Recycling is Boring But Does it Have to be?

Despite all the good it does, everyday recycling can be pretty boring.
Photo credit: Commons

For most people, recycling is boring. It's something they know is a good thing to do. But for many, that's just not enough motivation. I see recyclables in the trash all the time and the nation's horrid recycling rate (which estimates peg around 30-35%) is widely discussed.
Over the years, many paths have been tried: paying people money per pound, a nickel deposit back per bottle, curbside collection, and to make it as easy as tossing in the trash, the single blue bin that's been popular since the 90s. Recently, companies like Greenopolis have been getting creative with incentivizing recycling, as I discussed here last week.

But what about making recycling fun, something you'd even want to take an active part in doing? Is that possible? Our partnership with NBC New York is another step on that path for us. Putting the silly in recycling is a ridiculous animated Rube Goldberg style machine that "processes" things like Starburst wrappers, with the resulting new product popping out the other end.

And this NBC recycling machine doesn't just stay put on their site. We've made it embeddable, and shareable on Facebook and Twitter. It may look silly, but it does two things: gets people's attention, and makes it clear that things they're used to only being able to throw away can in fact be made into something else entirely.

It goes further.

Of course making recycling fun and approachable is not enough, the people need tools! The NBC upcycling widget invites people to create their own upcycled objects, with DIY projects containing all the instructions on how to do everything from turn a candy wrapper into a barrette to turning a soda bottle into a fancy toothbrush holder!

For those that are inspired to get fancier, or just want to see how we come up with the unexpected reuses, the widget links to a behind the scenes video of our designers, showing not only their design chops, but their passion and motivation, that I'm betting will be inspirational to many out there to use their creativity to reinvent or even make obsolete the term "waste."

Could a widget do all that? Yes. Is it the answer to increasing the amount of recycling happening? Not alone. It's a part of a bigger whole, of which I'd love to hear your ideas on what else can be done, below. Do you think making recycling fun, a game almost, is a good idea or bad idea?

Read more on recycling:
Recycling Artist Creates Portraits from Trash
Why Recycling Bottles Doesn't Help the Problem (Video)
New Recycling Process Could Recycle 100% of Plastic Packaging

Tags: Recycling | Reusability | Upcycling


treehugger slideshows