10 Yellow Bins

The story of how Hong Kong gets its first designer recycling bins and two inspirational women

Six foot two bright yellow paper recycling bins make their appearance at the Hong Kong Outlying Islands ferry piers in November 1997. The words “Time to recycle” boldly printed around a red, blue and green recycling logo make a strong presence to inspire change and raise awareness.
After many months of hard work, envisioning, design challenges, limited budgets, red tape negotiations, corporate dealings, Government approvals and sponsorship hassles… Our vision and dream to give Hong Kong its first attractive, functional and educational bins is realised.
Thanks in part to the forward thinking Body Shop and their kind sponsorship and trust, a willing EPD & FEHD, ABLE Charity goes ahead to manufacture and put up 10 big yellow bins, as they become fondly known, on the streets of Hong Kong.
It was a glorious sunny and fresh November’s day back in 1997 as we all gathered in front of pier No.4 for the official ceremony of launching Hong Kong’s first conscious paper recycling bins.
We were so excited, we all put on our crisp white ABLE Charity long sleeved shirts to meet up with: friends, supporters, Government officials from the EPD and the FEHD. The Body Shop representatives of Hong Kong and Macau, Marcus and Margarette Tancock came along with the legendary founder of Body Shop International and global activist the late Anita Roddick who had especially flown in were also present. I, myself was representing ABLE together with co-founder Tobias Forster, someone who had tirelessly worked on this project.
I mention these two women with pride as they both became friends of mine. I had so much respect and awe for both women, powerful, integral and conscious activists fighting big battles on behalf of women and our Mother Earth. The Body Shop was one of my first true inspirations as I stepped into the world of conscious entrepreneurship back in the late 1980’s. I remember walking into their Oxford Street shop in London and being blown away by the concept of effortlessly marrying business with environmental and social awareness. The feel of their packaging, conscious messages about not testing on animals, the environment, bigger picture living  all put across in a creative, graphical and appealing way inspired me. This had a massive impact on my young mind and helped guide me into finding my own voice and message moving forwards.To eventually become her friend was a blessing. Sadly and tragically she left us far too soon but not without leaving our planet a much richer and safer place.
Margarette Tancock was my first inspiration here in Hong Kong. She introduced me to the world of meditation and showed me that Hong Kong had plenty of spirituality to offer anyone seeking. As the founder of the Body Shop Hong Kong she also showed me how to marry both business and activism harmoniously. She always had a kind word and encouragement to give me any time I needed it.
She too tragically left us far too soon but also not without leaving Hong Kong and our world a much better place in her wake.
The ceremony was successful and the 10 big yellow bins graced our outlying ferry piers for another 5 years. During their short lifecycle they graced and greeted daily commuters as they stepped on and off their ferries with heaps of daily newspapers and other packaging they were bringing from their homes and offices to very openly and clearly recycle. Looking back they were perhaps not the best designed bins, but they worked and above all raised our city’s awareness for the time to recycle.
Hong Kong has come a long way since those early days and now paper recycling is part and parcel of our daily lives but back then it was revolutionary.
I for one miss seeing those big happy yellow bins.
Bobsy, Chair of ABLE Charity.

Celebrations ensue

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