Facebooking Trash Bins Shame the Wasteful

"BinCams"—garbage cans with cameras—help college students think twice about their waste by sharing trash pics on Facebook.


Anyone who has had the pleasure (or misfortune?) of attending a college frat party has seen the mountains of plastic cups that accumulate by the end of the night. Chances are, they won't end up in the recycling bin. Nor will anybody chastise the frat boys for their epic wastefulness.

Yet researchers at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom have launched a pilot project that's getting student volunteers to acknowledge their excessive garbage—and do something about it. A trial run with the "BinCam"—a trashcan that posts a Facebook pic of each piece of garbage deposited— is proving successful among the four student households participating, according to the BBC. In the second week of their project, which began in May, researchers already observed that far fewer recyclables ended up in the trash.

While the element of public shaming on Facebook is potentially obnoxious or even worse, Big-Brother-style creepy, this project works by keeping participants mindful of their trash, even when it's no longer in their kitchens. "Normally, when you throw something away, the lid goes down and you forget about it," project leader Anje Thieme told the BBC. "But by taking a photograph and uploading it to Facebook, it's a bit like having your conscience sat on your shoulder."

Photo (cc) by Flickr user andydr\n