Think before you throw

Look out for the new recycling signs designed by students.

side of recycling bin reads "Make every day earth day. Think before you throw."Some new signs on campus are vying for community members’ attention, requesting people to “Think before you throw” or boldly asking “Care about the planet? Prove it.”

These slogans, and a few more, are part of the new branding of the University of Utah’s multi-bin recycling system on main campus. The slogans are accompanied by a clear color scheme and bin labels, including plastic, cans, paper, glass and landfill. During winter break, the University of Utah’s recycling team in Facilities Management started to change out the recycling bin signage on main campus.

The project was several years in the making. The Sustainability Office and Facilities Management launched the redesign after a consultant’s report noted the need for more consistent bin signage and location to make recycling easier for students and employees at the U. To make sure the new signs were meaningful to the largest cohort on campus—students—Sustainability and Facilities hired ADTHING, the student ad agency.

“We spent a lot of time with sustainability experts, but we were also very focused on keeping the design and language really accessible, and above all, easy, for students,” said Zak Fox, creative director for ADTHING and now University of Utah alumnus. “For example, instead of ‘mixed paper’—who knows what that means?—we kept it to simply ‘paper.’ And ‘aluminum’ became ‘cans.’”

Bill Oakley, the executive director of ADTHING, said he believes most students want to recycle, but the previous bins were “designed by recycling experts for recycling experts.”

“This new, bold, simple and contemporary identity and signage is designed by students, for students. Very friend to friend. With an optimistic, lighthearted look and feel,” Oakley said.

The slogans vying for attention are also part of the lighthearted approach to try to get people’s attention. Oakley notes some might raise a few eyebrows. There are seven slogans total, including:

  • Think before you throw
  • Care about the planet? Prove it
  • Because planet
  • Recycle like you mean it
  • Make every day Earth Day
  • 1. Recycle 2. Go to class
  • Don’t be a trash hole (available by request only)

Josh James, the University of Utah’s recycling manager, directed the content for the stickers on the top of each of the bins. The stickers outline in more detail what should and should not go in the bin.

“I love the design’s simplicity and it has been a long time coming. The previous designs have been around since 2007,” James said. “The students’ work will help breathe new life into the recycling program and get people engaged. It will catch the eye of people who hadn’t noticed them before.”