Zero Waste Misfit Illustrations

Background: The Office of Sustainability is the hub of the University of Alberta’s campus sustainability initiative, developing communications campaigns and outreach programs. Through these efforts, thousands of students, staff and faculty learn how to change their lifestyles and workplace behaviours in the pursuit of long-term social good and ecological health.

The Design Problem/Opportunity: The University of Alberta’s Sustainability Plan sets a goal to ensure 90% of waste is recycled or composted by 2020. As of 2016, we have reached 55% and the majority of possible gains can come from increasing organics diversion. Increasing organics diversion requires educating the public about what is compostable and should no longer be placed in the landfill bins.

Illustrations: We illustrated 14 items found in University of Alberta food courts that are commonly discarded into the landfill bin when they should instead be composted or recycled (or vice versa): pop cups, crumpled paper bags, half-eaten doughnuts, styrofoam containers. These items are not truly “problems” but are rather “misunderstood.” People just don’t understand that a paper sandwich wrapper belongs in the organics bin, not the landfill bin. The illustrations should play off of this by anthropomorphizing the items. The personalities should come across as downtrodden but pure-hearted. These misfits just want to find their true home!

The illustrations align with the university’s Zero Waste system of colour-coded bins (Blue – recyclables; Green – organics; Yellow – mixed paper; Black – landfill), with a goal of being fun and colourful, and engaging/educating students instead of lecturing them

See the illustrations on the Office of Sustainability’s instagram account @greenuofa!

Illustrations by: Sarah Jackson