Talking bins have been wooing mainland Europeans for some time now. The UK is jumping on the band wagon too, in an effort to reduce littering. Should people be rewarded for throwing rubbish in the garbage, as they should?
According to Terence Black in The Independent the answer is no.
“Infantilising people, though, is hardly likely to make them more adult,” Black said and added, “Rewarding an activity which should be automatic merely makes it seem unusual. There may even be an instinctive awareness that the whole thing is faintly bogus: a campaign against litter is itself littering open spaces with the chirpy voices of TV personalities,” Black said.
The bins greet people who dispose of rubbish appropriately. Various celebrity voices can be heard thanking, singing or using catch phrases to commend the person for throwing rubbish away. The public have responded in a SKY report by calling the talking bins a, “gimmick.”
Black explained, “Anyone who happens to drop an item of litter into a bin in London or Liverpool in the near future maybe in for a surprise. The voice of Michael Palin is likely to issue from its interior, exclaiming, “Nobody expects the Spanish binquisition!” Alternatively, the Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden might hail them with the message, “This is Amanda and this city’s got talent!” In some places, Phil Tufnell will contribute “Howzat!,” Black said.
This reminds me of the 90’s in New York, being greeted by a celebrity’s voice as I sat into a yellow cab. During the 90’s, here on the US East coast, celebrity voices were recorded with various greetings and a reminder to use seatbelts in cabs. That effort lasted 6 years.
According to New York Times writer David Pogue,one of his readers asked for,
“a return of the celebrity recordings that, for six years in the 90’s, greeted everyone who entered a NYC taxi and urged them to buckle up. Danny DeVito, Eartha Kitt, Elmo—there were 38 different celebrity recordings in all.”
The practice was discontinued, “Because people hated it,” according Allan Fromberg, deputy commissioner for public affairs at the TLC
Sweden’s talking rubbish bins have met with great success. The bins take three times more rubbish than ordinary bins. You can’t question a success rate like that. What you can question is the need for talking bins during a recession. Are talking bins a priority right now?
What about putting those who caused mayhem during the recent riots to work and doing community service hours picking up litter?
I am all for keeping litter off the streets and in the litter/garbage/rubbish bins, but how much is all of this going to cost tax payers at the end of the day?
Although the goal is to initiate responsible behavior among citizens, according to Terence Black,
“It will take more than a nudge, or witty words from a celebrity in a rubbish bin, to change behavior.”
You can see and hear the talking bins here: