Trash Tracking

Ever wonder what happened to that old worn out pair of shoes you threw away. How about the coffee pot with the  broken carafe? Sure you have or you should have. If you live in Seattle, you may not  have  to wonder any longer. With the voluntary assistance of a number of Seattle residents, MIT  researchers have started a project to track that last journey to the landfill or recycling center.

The project uses a matchbook sized device that can be monitored  in real time by MIT computers. It will allow researchers and residents to follow that trash. The public will be able to follow the approximately 3,000 pieces of trash at an exhibit set up at  Seattle’s Central Library. In case you are interested, the migration can be followed beginning September 18.

Ahh, but what is the goal of this project? E nrtainment, it is not. It is meant to stimulate changes in behavior. So says Assaf  Biderman , a project leader. He is also of MIT’s SENSEable City Lab. He says that  “Seeing where your trash goes allows you to  change your behavior. Will you refill a cup instead of throwing away a disposable one? ”

Interesting idea, is it not? Mrs THT and I have recycled for years, far before it was in vogue and far before algore said it was the thing to do. I agree with its importance, but believe  a   better incentive is the ease of the process. provide the containers and they will recycle, in most cases. But still, it might be  fun to go the library and trash track instead of the old mundane reason of checking  out  a book.

Of course, this idea is better than San Francisco which will  be implementing tougher  laws, coupled with possible  fines for not sorting your trash properly. Does Obama have a trash czar yet? Any volunteers?

By the way, Frsico has a 72% recycle rate versus a paltry 50% in Seattle. Do you know recycle rate?


September 14, 2009 - Posted by | Culture | , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. McGee is a an MIT guy, glad he does other things besides study trash

    Comment by Tarheeltalker | September 19, 2009 | Reply

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