We’ve all seen the donation bins for clothing and shoes. The large metal boxes, usually languishing in parking lots, are uninviting, to say the least. Goodwill knows that these bins leave something to be desired, and they’re doing something about it.
Goodwill partnered with hip global design firm Frog to trash (pun intended) the old bins and go back to the drawing board to improve textile recycling. The result: a sleek, technologically savvy and user-friendly design known as the GoBin.
The creaky trap door on bins of yore has been replaced with a slot on the GoBin. (Co.Exist writer Adele Peters notes that the deposit slot looks like a smile.)
The design aesthetics are just the beginning. The new GoBins feature two impressive technology features:
1) A scannable QR code that allows donors to instantly access a tax form for their donation; and
2) An internal sensor that alerts Goodwill when the bin is becoming full so Goodwill can pick it up.
Here’s the kicker: Goodwill knows that convenience is one of the biggest barriers to donation. That’s why they’re hoping to place GoBins in “every large apartment building in San Francisco.”
That’s a lot of GoBins.
Peters reports that “many San Franciscans live in apartments rather than houses, and some people have bikes rather than cars (making it harder to drop off donations).
Perhaps the convenience barrier is part of why nearly 40 million pounds of textiles wind up in the landfills of San Francisco each year.
That’s a big problem, and GoBins may be the solution. Some of the donated textile will be re-sold, while others will be broken down and used for insulation or other fiber-based products.
Many people don’t realize how many textiles can be recycled. To optimize the GoBin effort, the city will also initiate “a multilingual campaign to give citizens pointers on how to recycle textiles.”
That’s a smart move. As we always say: when it comes to recycling, awareness is the first step.
If the GoBins are successful in San Francisco, other cities may take note. Americans throw away 21 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”) pounds of textiles each year, so an investment in strategically placed GoBins could go a long way to divert waste.
After all, smart recycling habits are always in style.