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It would seem wheelie bins would serve only one purpose...as a place to put your refuse for the garbage collector to pick up and take away. Normally, one doesn’t think of a wheelie bin as anything other than a utilitarian device that serves its purpose well – and conveniently – but lacks any “pizzazz,” and certainly isn’t particularly visually appealing. It is fair to say, historically, that’s how they’ve always been. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and there’s certainly no reason not to add visual appeal to these useful containers.
For instance, wheelie bins of all sizes are no longer automatically just ugly containers that come in a dull, seemingly universal grey or green colour, or hunks of metal that easily dent and look battle-worn. No, they aren’t that way at all, anymore. Today, these necessary containers are often made of a highly durable and easily cleaned injection moulded plastic that can withstand the harshest of conditions and the worst possible abuse. This switch to plastics has had other benefits, including making them far more lightweight and easy to transport, whether you’re rolling them to the curb in front of your house, or transporting them to industrial locations to handle construction waste. The switch to plastics has also made it possible for wheelie bins to be far more attractive and visually appealing, sometimes, to nearly unbelievable levels.
First, wheelie bins can now be made in a wide-range of colours, without adding significantly to production costs, which means more attractive bins are now available to consumers without any particular additional expense. Besides their more traditional looks of grey and olive green, today, wheelie bins are easily found in a rainbow of colours, including blue, brown, red, and yellow, all of which are certain to brighten up any area where they’re stored, and any curb on which they’re placed. But while that’s certainly an improvement from their earlier dull and drab days – and a great start – there are so many more options possible to make them truly an attractive sight, and quite possibly, one you’ll be proud of.
Today, wheelie bins also serve as artistic canvases, allowing the artist, the owner, or both, to personalize and impress others with what can be done with them. With just the right types of paint, ideally waterproof types, given the outdoor conditions most wheelie bins are subjected to, these utilitarian items can be transformed into unique, one-of-a-kind works of head-turning artistry. It’s simple for the owner of a bin to plan out and create a piece that reflects their own dreams, lifestyle, or creative vision over the course of a few dedicated hours of inspired creation, whether they’re the next Rembrandt, or just taking the opportunity to have some fun with an otherwise dull item.
Owners of wheelie bins can, and do, as has been shown in Oakland, California, turn their bins into visible, noticeable, and enjoyable pieces of public art. There, in Oakland, a recent initiative turned more than 63 public municipal bins into individually unique pieces that can’t help but draw attention, and perk up the atmosphere of any location in which they’re found. Not only do the bins bring visual levity to their surroundings, they also bring people together. "It was a great community organizing tool," said Beverly Shalom, a social worker who designed a few bins in Oakland herself. "We deal with crime and blight, and some of us felt that instead of only focusing on the negative, we would focus on something positive that would make people care more about their neighbourhood." And they did, as the project quickly spread to surrounding suburbs, luring in more artists in the process. "When I saw what they were doing, I knew I had to figure out a way to do them too," said Daud Abdullah, an artist who invested his time when he wasn’t busy with his day job working as an electrician. "I had done a lot of community clean-up projects," Abdullah said. "I liked the idea of making a trash can look so pretty that nobody could miss it."
While the Oakland project was organized in the community, there’s nothing stopping the individual owner of a wheelie bin, big or small, from turning it into their own artistic canvas, whether they do the work themselves, or turn this fun task over to someone else. What child wouldn’t enjoy the chance to turn their family’s bin into a cool-looking piece of roadside art they can point to and say, “I did that!” Of course, even if children aren’t involved, most people know someone who creates art, whether with big dreams of fame, or just as a relaxing-yet-stimulating hobby. Even if it is not their bin, many would be proud to have the opportunity to turn something as mundane as a wheeled waste bin into something that will be seen and admired by everyone who passes by.