RPGA Studio Redesigns  NYC Garbage Cans to Change Behaviors. Interview with Yvonne Shortt.


Interview by Evil E.

Yvonne Shortt is the head of a social practice non profit studio called RPGA Studio. She has been working in NYC with a focus on revitalizing spaces, transportation safety, garbage, inspiring youth, and commercial corridors for 10 years.

Tell my readers about your idea to get people to stop throwing garbage on the street?There are a lot of people in NYC and because of this there is a heck of a lot of garbage.  Some of the garbage is in garbage cans but there is also a lot of garbage that is just on the streets.  And, I wondered why.  One day I had the opportunity to observe a little girl walking and she just threw her candy wrapper on the street.  She was with her father and he said nothing.  Together they just walked into the school playground where the little girl found some friends to shoot hoops with.

Is this what gave you the idea of hoops on NYC garbage cans? No, like all ideas I just started thinking about garbage in my head.  I started wondering how we could consume less and when we do consume be aware of what’s left and the appropriate way to deal with what remains. Then, one year for our CC3DP challenge we asked kids to redesign garbage cans to make people more interested in throwing out their garbage.  And, wouldn’t you know it, most of the students had some cad rendering with a hoop.  It was really crazy.

I started to think maybe the kids were on to something. This is when I took the idea back to my studio and started working on a design that would be appropriate for NYC streets.

What was your design process like? I really thought a lot about what we were trying to do which was get kids to think differently about throwing out their garbage.  So I decided to use association to achieve this goal.  Instead of associating the garbage can with bad smells associate it with fun and laughter. I thought of  the fact that basketball was fun and decided to have my studio create something that associated garbage cans with hoops.

What materials are you using? Currently the frame is made of plastic and painted with outdoor paint. We have a net made of string. And we are using ultrasonic sensors and Arduino so when the garbage goes in the hoop the hoop lights up.

What has the community response been to the hoop? People are amazed that we actually designed it and have started testing it on NYC street, kids are excited to actually use it, and schools want to know do we have any programing around it.

Are you surprised at the community response? No, not really.

How do you think this hoop will  help get rid of trash?  We want people to associate throwing out garbage with making a shot so we are associating garbage cans with hoops.  Now when kids throw out garbage they are happy, smiling, and wanting to hold their garbage until they see a garbage can. We are using the hoop to change behaviors.

Is it working? Indeed it it Evil E.  Indeed it is!

For more information go to RPGA Studio.


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