Design on a Dime - Recycling Project

Have you ever thought, “there must be a better way to do this?” When the challenge involves humans and behaviour, there may well be an easier way. You might even know the solution yourself. At the Sibley Innovation Hub, we use a three-stage process for innovation projects. We call it Listen, Imagine, Do! In this “Design on a Dime” series, we will be discussing some projects that didn’t take long at all to implement.

The first project in this series was led by Rob Jewel, a leader in the Environmental Services Department here at Sibley Hospital.



Rob noticed there were four various receptacles for four different types of waste. He watched employees in the cafeteria throw out waste in the wrong bins. He suspected employees might not fully appreciate the recyclable material and proper sorting of it.



After Rob had gained enough information, he went into the Imagine phase of the Sibley Innovation Method. He drew from his past knowledge of places that have successfully made trash sorting easier and more obvious. Rob thought of college campuses where they often have physical representations of the waste which should go into specific cans.



Rob entered the Do phase. This is prototyping, testing and implementation. He started by prototyping signs to would hang next to the corresponding containers. He glued on real-life utensils and bowls (the ones used in the hospital cafeteria) to make it easier for employees to recognize by examples.

After his testing was complete, Rob put tape next to the containers and wrote the corresponding word on it. This made it obvious to employees where the different types waste should go. Lastly, Rob tested his prototypes by watching as employees spent more time considering where to place their waste.

This project is just one of many examples proving that design and implementation does not have to be a long process. All it takes is a little listening, imagining, and doing.


Tucker Hemphill

Experience Design Intern

Johns Hopkins Sibley Innovation Hub