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R-Blocks, Updated November 22

R-Blocks is a customizable and user-friendly recycling bin concept that helps people establish better recycling habits at home by simply changing the perception of trash.

Photo of Alper Yaglioglu
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Explain your idea in one sentence

R-Blocks is a wall-mounted recycling bin concept. Which means that the unit required to hang bins on walls is built-in. All you need to do is to buy blocks available in different sizes and colors according to your needs, draw your waste on them and create your very own customized recycling space.

What are the common problems of recycling bins ?

They are ugly. As we have discovered during the research phase, people don't recycle simply because they find bins ugly and prefer keeping them out of sight, which in turn discourages them from recycling.

They are not functional. Lack of aesthetics brings problems in function. Hiding bins makes them hard to use as we generally keep them in drawers or cupboards.

They are not customisable. Customization is an important factor to consider when recycling as everyone has different recycling needs.
 

How does R-Blocks adresses these problems ?

R-Blocks offers a new perception of trash. Instead of hiding bins, let's make them a part of your environment. During the first prototyping session, my friend and I tried R-Blocks for one week each and they were so nice-looking that our friends were surprised when they learnt these are actually recycling bins.
 
Using bins as a part of your environment brings functional advantages along. R-Blocks at your disposal throughout the day makes recycling an action much more easier than tossing them into trash can. Unfortunately,my friend and I were non-recyclers. As the main purpose of the first experiment, my friend and I experimented with R-Blocks to see if it helps us establish better recycling habits. We got used to recycling in 2-3 days and recycled almost every material throughtout the week. Adaptation process was so fast for some reasons.
 
  • They are at eye level and colourful which makes them almost impossible to ignore.
  •  It is so easy to toss something into them.
  • Using a bin completely different in concept than trash cans helped me and my friend differentiate recyclable materials than non-recyclable waste.

You can use R-Blocks customized to meet your spesific recycling needs. You can pick the blocks available in different colors and sizes and create your own recycling space.If you recycle too much plastic then you can have a large block. If you recycle not much metal than you can pick the smallest size. You can even devote one of the blocks to milk cartons and sketch a milk box on it. Also, blocks in different sizes makes it possible to use negative spaces and awkward corners in their rooms or kitchens.

"The more you like your bin, the more you recycle." Finally, "draw your waste" concept aims to show what's inside a block in a fun way. I asked my friends would they recycle more if they liked their bin more and they said it would definitely influence their recycling habits. However, this idea is yet to be experimented.
 

User journeys


Mike is a devoted recycler but he's been having hard time recycling since his bin makes it hard to recycle. Mike keeps it in a drawer in the kitchen because it is not nice-looking and he does not want his friends to see it. Also, the bin has 4 sections for different materials but they are all identical, which does not facilitate recycling at all. One day, Mike sees R-Blocks in a hardware store, finds the concept interesting and thinks these blocks can be a good match for the funny corner in his kitchen. Mike picks the bins in the colors and sizes that makes sense for him (aesthetically and functionally). He places the bins on the walls of the kitchen, where he can use them easily. After a few weeks of trying, R-Blocks changes Mike's recycling habits and helps him recycle more without any hurdle. He likes R-Blocks so much that he suggests it his friends who has the same problems that Mike had.

Jim is a friend of Mike, who is a non-recycler. Mike invites Jim over to his place. R-Blocks immediately catches Jim's attention and he asks Mike what those blocks are. After Mike explains what they are and how they changed the way he recycles, Jim finds R-Blocks concept very interesting and quite easy to use. He also thinks that blocks are nice-looking and inviting. He decides to give it a try and asks Mike where he can find R-Blocks. He picks the sizes that can fit his tight kitchen well. After a few weeks of using R-Blocks, he recycles much of his waste, which encourages him to recycle more and learn the new materials he come across.
 

Implementation

R-Blocks concept can be implemented in a small or large scale.
In a small scale, we can find people who are willing to give it try in their flats or offices. We can ask their experiences and insights during the process and get feedback to further develop the concept. At this stage, design support would be needed for functional and manufacturing details.

In a large scale, we can implement the idea in apartments or neighbourhoods. By this way, we can see how R-Blocks influence resident's different recycling habits.

I think the implementation of this idea might give us a lot information on these questions :
  • How does the design of a bin influence users' recycling habits?
  • How does the placement of a bin influence the way people recycle?
  • What kind of impact does the perception of trash has on recycling habits?
  • How does customization and personalization of recycling bins change recycling habits?
 

Prototype 2 ( Updated, June 14 )

  I've been working on R-Blocks concept for 2 weeks and I refined functional details. After everthing was done, a new question occured to me. But first, let me share my insights.

R-Blocks is human-centered. My friends tried refined prototype and they said that it is pretty easy to use and feels like "posting a letter" rather than throwing something out. They also found open-top option much more encouraging to recycle.

It sticks out of wall too far. I tried R-Blocks in tight kitchens and it definitely had to be slimmer. This model seems too slim but something between two models would do the trick.

They can be used as a recycling station or scattered. In large kitchens or in public places such as offices, there are huge negative spaces that enable R-Blocks to be used as a recycling station. However, you can also use them scattered around the room or even house! For instance, one of my friends said he keeps bananas under his computer desk as snack and so often goes to the kitchen to toss it. He said it would be great to have a small bin devoted to bananas in his room.
 
It would be made out of recycled PET. This material seems to work well for bins.

Here comes the new question:


Would you recycle more if you like your bin more ?

I was trying to find a way to show what's inside R-Blocks without drawing attention to the specific items. They are already colorful, on wall and at eye level. Also, they have a huge empty front side. It seems obvious that these bins are no different than post-its waiting for us to draw something on them !

Draw your waste!


There is no better way than drawing to explain what's going on inside the bin. Find your permanent markers and draw your waste! You can draw a milk box and a cow on a milk carton recycling bin, as I did , a rubber duck on the plastic recycling bin or what makes sense for you. This moment that you make your bin yours may create an emotional bond between you and your bin, which in return leads you recycle more and more. So, I asked many people what would they do and they said:

"The more you like your bin, the more you recycle."

They even said they wouldn't throw the bin out after it's broken or useless. If an idea that simple can change recycling habits, it would be so easy to make a huge impact in no time. However, this claim needs an experiment in a large scale.

 
 

Prototype 1 ( Updated, May 18 )

I've experimented with R-Blocks for one week then one of my friends who had hard time recycling gave it a try for again one week. We got almost the same results.

R-Blocks has changed our recycling habits drastically in a very short time. As you can guess, for those who are new to recycling it takes a while to get used to recycling. With R-Blocks this adaptation period was quite short (2-3 days). 

R-Blocks has grabbed my attention whenever I'm about to throw something away. It's almost impossible to ignore a colourful object which is at your eye-level. 

My guests liked R-Blocks so much. They said it looks very decorative and inviting. I'm also quite satisfied with the existence of R-Blocks in my room.

It was hard to carry the blocks. I should find a way to make blocks easier to carry. ( such as handle )

Further refinement is needed. R-Blocks would be made of plastic (recycled PET) which brings new opportunities for the design of blocks.

Do you recycle a lot of paper and not much plastic? Then you can have a large paper recycling block and small plastic recycling block.
Is there a special need to recycle milk boxes in your office ? Then you can have a recycling block devoted only to milk boxes.

R-Blocks is a built-in recycling system. Which means that the unit that is required to hang blocks to wall is built-in and all you need to do is to buy recycling blocks according to your needs and create your own customized recycling space.

All blocks can be independently hung or removed.

Evaluation results

12 evaluations so far

1. How well do you think this idea will create new habits for the people involved?

Really well. I can see it creating lasting behavioural changes - 75%

The idea is pretty good but I’m not sure it will make new habits - 25%

Not sure the idea would really help people establish long-lasting habits - 0%

2. Can the idea be scaled to work in different countries and with different people?

Yes – it’s clear how the idea could be adopted by people from far and wide - 83.3%

Seems like it could work but needs some fleshing out - 16.7%

I don’t think it could be easily used in different locations - 0%

3. Can the idea be used regardless of the local recycling schemes?

Yes – it doesn’t seem to rely on a particular collection scheme - 75%

Possibly – although it might work better under some schemes rather than others - 25%

I think it might only work under particular circumstances - 0%

4. How easy would it be to pilot a version of the idea to test it out?

Really easy – ways to test this idea further are already springing to mind - 75%

Piloting this idea would be possible but it could take a lot of time and resources - 25%

A pilot doesn’t seem easy at this point - 0%

5. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

It rocked my world - 66.7%

I liked it but preferred others - 25%

It didn’t get me too excited - 8.3%

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Photo of Jes
Team

Congratulations Alper! It has been incredibly inspiring to see your super prototyping efforts over the last few months. I can't wait to see how this idea grows and evolves.

Photo of Alper
Team

Thanks Jes! Way to go on your two winner ideas! Looking forward to see how they will grow.

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