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Recycle for a Good Night's Sleep. One for One program.

Ok, so we all know that recycling is really good for the environment but it's really hard to see how our recycling efforts actually impact the world around us. We can't conceptualise how our small actions impact our society or environment. It's also really hard to understand what you can make with recycled materials. Cue 'Recycle for a Good Night's Sleep', a one for one program that turns your recycling into a swag for a homeless person (an Australian term for a sleeping bag crossed with a tent). The swag is made with 100% recycled materials.

Photo of Jes Simson
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Explain your idea in one sentence

'Recycle for a Good Night's Sleep' turns a community's recycling into sleeping bags for the homeless so that they can have a better night's sleep.

The Problem

We all know that it's really important to recycle, but it's often really hard to image how our individual efforts could actually make an impact.  

It's really difficult to imagine what our recycled materials could become.  The fact that you can make a sleeping bag out of recycled plastic bottles is pretty mindboggling.  We need to see value in our waste if we are going to change our recycling habbits.  

It's also really difficult to imagine how our small recycling acts can actually make a social or environmental impact.  We need to humanise this problem.

Recycle for Good Night's Sleep - A One for One program 

A brand (let's roll with The North Face or Patagonia) launch a social advertising campaign to encourage people to recycle.  The brand allows consumers to donate their recycling and in return the brand donates a swag or sleeping bag to a homeless person (a swag is an Australian term for a cross between a sleeping bag and a tent).  The swag / sleeping bag is made from 100% recycled materials.  The brand would donate one sleeping bag per weight of recycled materials needed to create that sleeping bag.  Consumers are given feedback on what % of the sleeping bag their recycled material contributed to.  This would help people to see how their recycling can be used to make new products. 

The brand could even partner with  Swags for Homeless to launch this initiative.   

For more info on the genius behind one for one programs, check out Shane's great explanation in his 'Bottles for Smiles.  One for One' idea

About Swags for the Homeless 

Swags for Homeless aims to provide a BackPack Bed to every man, woman and child who is turned away from a homeless shelter. 

Check out some of their inspiring stories here and above.  

Making a swag or sleeping bag out of recycled materials

It's probably possible to create a swag or sleeping bag out of 100% recycled materials. Whether it's cost effective is another question. 

The North Face have already made a sleeping bag out of 100% post consumer waste (plastic bottles, garment scraps and factory yarn waste).  

Patagonia also sell waterproof jackets made of 100% recycled materials. 

Consumer recycles products

Consumers could tell brands that they have recycled products in one of two ways:

(1) Brand sets up a recycling drive at their stores - people can bring in their recycling and receive a 'sleeping bag credit' - where they can see what % of a sleeping bag they have contributed to.  This could be a great way to get people to interact with the brand and the product (in that the brand could display the sleeping bags, offer promotions, donate % of sales from those sleeping bags to homeless person charities).

(2) Brand sets up a social platform (similar to Shane's incredible 'Bottles for Smiles.  One for One' idea here) - user's create a profile, upload their daily recycling activity and convert their actions into a 'sleeping bag credit'.  Similarly, the brand could use this platform as a way to build engagement around the sleeping bag product. You would also be able to build community teams (eg: workmates / class / building / street) to donate together and generate bigger impact.  This could also help communities to help each other to change their behaviour.  It could also add a competitive elements which could encourage more recycling. 

More details needed

We would need to find out the nuts and bolts - like is it possible to design an appropriate sleeping bag or swag?  Are any brands willing to get involved?  How many recycled bottles does it take to make a sleeping bag - is this too high to illustrate the benefits of behvioural change? How can we enage people to accurately document what materials they have recycled (this problem has been discussed at length by Rob Han with his Less idea over here).  

Describe how your idea would help form new habits and improve recycling at home

It would inspire people to recycle by demonstrating what kinds of products can be made with recycled materials. It would provide people with a social and ethical incentive to recycle more (your actions can positively impact someone's life in a big way). If you went down the community platform route, it could use community to nudge and incentivise individual action by creating a platform that hold's people to account for their actions.

How might you design an early, lightweight experiment to further develop your idea?

A brand, like the North Face, could easily prototype this by setting up a stall in one of their retail outlets and allowing people to come in and donate their recycling. The store could then tell the consumer what % of a sleeping bag they have helped donate to a homeless person. The brand could then donate the appropriate number of sleeping bags through an organisation like a soup kitchen or shelter - any place where people who are sleeping rough that night would congregate.

What aspects of your idea could benefit from the input of our OpenIDEO community?

A great, catchy name would be great. Is this idea feasible and viable? What brands or charities might want to participate? What is the best way to encourage community participation?


Join the conversation:

Photo of Shane Zhao

Jes, this is also an incredible idea and thank you for building upon Bottles for Smiles! I love how you've thought about this idea holistically from identifying a brand partner, such as North Face, to non-profit partner such as Swags for Homeless. One challenge that I've thought about when it comes to the one-for-one model is the issue of how can we make these ideas viable as a business long term? Philanthropic and corporate organizations can support recycling habits by matching it with donations. But, where would the stream of funding come from? For your idea, I can see how brands can benefit by gaining increased customer loyalty. This would be a big incentive for a commercial brand support such a one-for-one recycling program as Recycle for a Good Night's Sleep.

Photo of Jes Simson

Thanks Shane - you had a pretty incredible idea to build on!

Your point about building a long term business model is a really valid one, I'm still searching for a better way to execute this too. This idea is largely imagined as an ad campaign where North Face can build its brand a socially and environmentally responsible company while showing people the benefits of the sleeping bag (they are warm enough to give people a good night's sleep). However, given that ad campaigns rarely run for long periods of time (they are expensive and people get bored so the message stops 'cutting through') this may not be particularly sustainable for an extended period of time.

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