The Greater Columbus Convention Center, a facility in which huge groups of people wander around drinking from cans and bottles, does not provide recycling services. Looney Labs Recycling Rabbits hopped in to fill this need, collecting over 1,000 beverage containers at Origins 2002.
This year, we were allowed to set up recycling bins outside our own spaces, and the convention center provided us with bins that were a different style from the garbage cans. We wrapped the bins in tie-dyed cloth to make them eye-catching, and each bin had a sign made from a giant cardboard Icehouse pyramid. We also put a cardboard insert into each bin with round cutouts to drop containers through, in order to discourage people from putting trash into them. Bins were located in our booth, our Lab, the food court, and the miniatures gaming room (an enormous hall filled with people playing games and drinking sodas). We definitely collected more with our improved bins, and we hope to have them in even more locations next year.
The majority of Origins attendees were very cooperative about recycling. We put a trash can right next to each of our recycling bins, and almost no recyclables wound up in those trash cans. We also found that trash cans within 50 feet of a recycling bin contained many fewer cans and bottles than those located farther away. This demonstrates that most people will recycle when it's relatively convenient.
Convention center staff also cooperated with our recycling program. Not one of them damaged our bins or tried to throw their contents into the garbage. Several employees picked some bottles and cans out of the garbage for us, and several more thanked us for providing a service they feel their employer really should be providing.
The city recycling program in Columbus requires that beverage containers dropped off at recycling centers be rinsed and have the caps removed, and aluminum and plastic containers must be crushed flat. With a lot of Rabbits working together, that wasn't so difficult. At one point, we processed 4 huge bags of recyclables in less than an hour! We set up shop in an out-of-the-way space in the hallway outside the lab, near restrooms where we could rinse things. We got a little sticky, but crushing all those bottles and cans was fun!
In addition to the required processing, Rabbits patiently counted the containers as they put them into bags. Here's what we collected:
(Facts about recycling and energy are from yesworld.org and soulitude.net.)
We made a difference! Not only did we save some resources, but we helped convention attendees to do something they know is right but find difficult to do when away from home. We got a lot of people thinking about recycling bins in public buildings--how rare it is to see them and how nice it is to have them. We may even have gotten the convention center to consider setting up recycling service for their facility. If not, the Recycling Rabbits will be back next year!
If you'd like to organize recycling for an event (large or small) but aren't sure how to do it, e-mail 'Becca with your questions.