Holly Smith works at Hubbub, a charity that takes a fresh approach to communicating environmental issues, focusing on people’s passions such as fashion, food, homes and neighbourhoods. It avoids doom, gloom and lecturing about carbon footprints, instead keeping its communications and events positive, sociable, collaborative, relevant and open to all.
Festivals provide a chance for attendees to let go of their workload, worries and inhibitions. Unfortunately, guests also tend to let go of whatever they are holding, thereby generating vast amounts of litter. One of the hardest items of litter to clean, but least stigmatised, is the cigarette butt.
The tiny butt presents a big problem. One third of cigarette butts find their way into the ground or into waterways. That’s 1.69 billion pounds of butt clogging up our natural environments and ecosystems. The filters they contain are made of a type of plastic that degrades very slowly and is toxic to wildlife.
This is why we need to change both actions and attitudes towards dropping the sickly cylinders, which is where the Ballot Bin comes in.
These bright bins went viral on their first trial in London by asking smokers engaging questions such as ‘Lionel Messi or Ronaldo?’, ‘Grand Prix or tennis US Open?’ and ‘Batman or Superman?’. The questions reached six million people online and reduced the rate of smokers dropping their butts by 20%.
The bin taps into people’s desire to participate and to voice an opinion through the polling mechanism – by casting a vote with your stubbed out butt and watching the ‘ballots’ pile up through the glass panels.
The customisable question panel allows owners to spark conversation, drive debate and interact with audiences, fitting in with the online generation constantly posting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Created in collaboration with Common Works design agency, the Ballot Bin engages people in positive behaviours without them realising. Interaction with the bin and other people provides positive reinforcement for disposing of butts in a sustainable way. What we’ve seen on social media is that smokers want to use the Ballot Bin.
The bin can hold up to 600 butts and is bigger than many other wall mounted ashtrays, ideal for when there are large numbers of people and it is not convenient to empty the bin frequently. The cigarette butts can be collected and recycled via TerraCycle. What’s more, any profit from the sale of the bins goes back into Hubbub’s charity campaign.
The Ballot Bin will be visible at the Bernaza Music Festival in the US this summer and the We Love Green festival in Paris.
For questions about Hubbub or the bins, get in touch with Holly.