A group of designers in Taiwan developed a friendly trash bin in order to treat homeless people with dignity.
During their commutes, Mars Chen and Kevin Tseng noticed hungry people in the train station rummaging for food in the trash cans. Perhaps more importantly, Chen and Tseng noticed the looks of disappointment when the individuals couldn’t find anything edible.
While the team’s invention doesn’t get to the root of homelessness, it makes searching for food easier on a desperate population.
From the front, the bin looks like any other receptacle. It has a hole where you toss rubbish inside. But the back of the can is a little different. There’s a shelf where people can place uneaten food that someone else might need. Instead of digging through unsanitary waste, people now have a designated area where they can pick up the items.
“This little behavior can not only let the homeless people enjoy a meal with dignity but also reduce the waste of food,” the designers wrote. “Usually, we only used the lower half of the trash can to throw away the trash. That is why we use the upper half to let people put the unfinished food on there.”
As a demo, Chen and Tseng placed the friendly bin in a high-traffic area. Passersby stop and read the label which indicates how to use the trash can. Some opt for the shelf, others for the bin. Eventually, a few homeless people walk by and grab the leftover food from the stash.
The designers later followed up with some of the people who collected the food. Each said the device was helpful and that they hope it becomes ubiquitous.
“It is helpful,” one man said. “You know that I have nothing to eat at night. We have to wait until people donate to us.”
If you liked this story, check out In The Know’s article on the “floating” trash can that drove some Reddit users wild with questions.
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