Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Let's talk about bins

Over the Earth Day weekend I enlisted my family to participate in the Green City Race, organized by Evergreen (an uber cool environmental group that brings amazing green projects to cities and schools across Canada). I wrote about our amazing family adventure in my Tales of a Green City Racer on our family blog, but I first want to thank Sandy and Kia (Info Centre staff extraordinaire) who both took a quick turn trying to help us answer clues on our racing journey.

As our cell phones are not the smart kind we needed 'phone-a-friend' back ups with internet access that we could call upon. In true Green Team spirit they both patiently tried to look up what we needed to move on when we called - and our family really appreciated them sharing a moment to help keep us going! :)

Not only was my Green Team brain actively imagining all the wonderful places that could be mapped out around Britannia for a similar community-scale green race event (one day my friends), I also found myself thinking about our recycling challenges!

One way we could earn bonus points during the race was to take pictures of at least one teammate posing with an item from their recommended list - and one was 'posing with various garbage/recycling containers'. So, I actually had a reason to take pictures of garbage and recycling bins that day (as opposed to all the times I do it just for fun)!

If  I could wave a magic wand to transform the Britannia complex into a landscape of holistic waste management that everyone could love, the number one thing I would wish to appear with a blink of an eye is containers everywhere they are needed.

Alas, I have no fairy magic. I pretend I do every day with my daughter, but haven't yet figured out how to make my fairy magic abilities into 'reality'.

There is magic in the sharing of ideas though, so here is where I ask all of you green keeners to recommend what kind of bins and things we might want to consider as possibilities for our site.

I'll start the discussion off by sharing random photos of some of my favourite bins, and you can all share your comments below with what you like, or don't and why. While it's all hypothetical is the perfect time to air out all the pros and cons of each bin model, and perhaps have fun with the debate around them.

Today I'll start with bins we need for the public spaces on our site. Don't worry, I will get to the bins we need for staff areas and other spaces (and compost bins too) in another post or three that I know you all can't wait for! ;P

People that use the various facilities on site have nowhere to recycle most things. We have vending machines on site, but not a lot of places for people to recycle those drink containers unless they ask the staff.

We have places for people to sit and read, but nowhere for them to recycle their newspapers unless they are in the library.

It should be easy for the users of our facilities to dispose of things responsibly and by increasing the number of bins, odds are they actually will. So an option I would love to see in public areas is something similar to:this RIO*CAN model on the left; a simple 3 bin option found in Creekside Community Centre;

or one of these totally awesome Big Belly Solar Trash Compactors with side attachment for recyclables.

Please don't be shy about sharing photos of your own favourite bins! What do you think of a something like this one that Robert shared with me?

Our community complex is also full of people during the year when we host our amazing events like the upcoming Stone Soup Festival. So what do you think of a Zero Waste Station like this one for Britannia events?

Many people say "why not just call the City and order some bins?" - but actually placing bins on site is only one part of the solution. I have realized this topic is one of many opinions, so we might as well get the dialogue going around these things together in various ways (like here on this blog where comment threads can provide space to unravel ideas), and once we've contemplated what kind of bins we need and why, we can start to consider what will be needed to deal with any of these potential new bins on site.

While working our way towards something truly magical - the perfect place to dispose of every thing in a convenient way. I aim to work with all the varying relationships and community partnerships on site, because it is due to all of them together that make this place so amazing. By showing respect and consideration, we can ensure this change will be a stable, happy and long lasting one. 

So what do your dream recycle bins look like? C'mon...I can't be the only one that dreams about this stuff can I?
Even if you don't dream about it, your thoughts are still welcome here - so share away green keeners!


  1. Also check to see what UBC is using. They also sometimes have older recycling stations that they will give a way from time to time. I forget the contact, but if you check in with facilities, you may get somewhere.

    We also set up a recycling and composting station at Stone Soup, though not as elaborate as these,though the signage is important. I will ask our team what the plan is and make sure we create some eye catching signage.


    1. Thanks for the lead on potential containers Ian!
      I'm happy to help with signage for a Stone Soup recycle/compost station :)