Let’s talk trash for a minute because what we do with our rubbish as people and business can be social, fun and lead to community benefit.
Trash has become a big reason for digital and social engagement, so much so The Wombles might well do their collections using their mobile devices now.
Recycling in itself has been the subject of a number of apps/initiatives such as Find Recycling, Freecycle, Recycle Now. Yet locating where your nearest recycling plant or bins are is just one part of a bigger movement.
Sharing is most definitely caring (and social capital)! Some very creative folk are coming up with some fantastic ideas to make the most of our trash.
Here’s a couple of really fantastic examples:
Trashswag: Trashswag.com is a crowdmap for people to share and post salvageable materials that have been left outside. It is in essence, and has been descrived elsewhere on the web, a Craigslist for dumpster divers. Using API, the Toronto-based initiative relies on users to pinpoint places on a map where treasures can be found. The potential of creating a global network of cities where this kind of initiative could fly is quite enticing …. or at least certainly in your home patch!
Users take a photo, add relevant information and then pin the item on a map. The item is then crowdsourced on its own page, which can be accessed by others keen to find out what’s available in their local area. No interaction needs to take place with the owner of the trash and people can also send their trash items via SMS, twitter (#trashswag) and email. Each item is tweeted via the @trashswag twitter feed. What a brilliant concept!
Goedzak: Pioneered by a Dutch design company, Waarmakers, the “Goedzak”, which translates to “good bag” or “do-gooder”, is a transparent bag with an eye-catching yellow stripe down one side, which you can put things out on the street in. If any of the contents catch the eye of a passer-by, they can feel free to just take them.
As Waarmakers state on their website, it is a very clever means of changing social behaviour: “starting from a thorough research into the mechanisms involved in altruistic behavior the goal was to design products that stimulate behavior to benefit others, preferably complete strangers.”
Taking items off the street may pose legal complications (Dutch law prohibits it) – but surely both concepts are a go-er in the UK or elsewhere? Surely?
I think this is just the start of such initiatives which encourage sustainability, where likeminded visible, sharing concepts can enliven our streets, give due respect to the local environment and encourage people to engage with each other.