Partnered with Jesi Carson, we tackled the issue of bin pickers facing high injury risks while collecting refundable containers. Tasked by the Binner’s Project, our goal was to design a solution to make this process safer and more efficient in alleyways.
Our approach included an ethnographic field study, documenting alley spaces and interactions, and engaging both residents and waste pickers in body storming and brainstorming sessions. These activities highlighted the impracticality of a universal "box" due to varied alleyway infrastructures and the inefficiency of adding steps to the waste pickers' process.
Insights revealed the most practical solution was a simple, universally understandable hook system for hanging bags, which could be easily installed across different surfaces. This approach was validated through community engagement, ensuring a cost-effective, accessible solution to enhance safety and efficiency for waste pickers.
Like so many other metropolitan cities, Vancouver has a vibrant and diverse community of folks collecting refundable beverage containers from alley ways. Myself and design partner Jesi Carson was approached by the Binner’s Project to help expand capacity for waste pickers by designing a “box” to keep refundable containers aside from the garbage and recycling to simplify the user experience for waste pickers. An early prototype was presented to us as a departure point. 
The Binners’ project is a non-profit organization situated in Downtown Eastside where the largest portion of low income communities converge in Vancouver. The “Binners Project fosters social and economic inclusion, builds community resilience and stronger networks, and engages on sustainability issues.”
The problem waste pickers face lie in the physical collection of containers in neighborhoods. As one can imagine climbing into dumpsters can present a plethora possible literal pain points eg. pathogens, sharp and broken objects etc. 
The secondary issue waste pickers face is stigmatization of this activity, mostly due to the noise at hours that residents may be resting. Some residents have tried to mitigate this by separating their containers and putting them in a disposable shopping bag and placing them in the alley for waste pickers to collect. This is essentially the opportunity our client wanted to capitalize on, by formalizing the action by providing an easy drop-off mechanism for residents and an easy collection point for pickers. You might suppose it can be left on the ground, yes, but the client wanted to find a “cleaner” solution to encourage this action.
Binner's User Experience.
We were able to have an initial consultation with waste pickers involved and ask clarifying questions on the context of use and experience they were having in the alley.
We then walked through some alleys in Strathcona, a neighboring area to the Down Eastside to try and understand where “boxes” might be able to be mounted in a wide variety of back alley spaces. We designed flyers and reached out to residents and invited them to a community consultation and waste picker consultation/brainstorming event at Makerlabs Vancouver. Few residents showed up along with waste pickers and we then presented some possible directions,
In an AHA moment, we realized that a simple “coat hook” type of solution, mounted somewhere near each alley/residence on power poles/fenceposts or fence walls in visible spaces, could potentially be a viable solution to this problem as the plastic bag is the common touch point for both picker and resident.
We prototyped a hook as the client wanted something unique for their use and prototyped its use. After a few design iterations we gave the client design drawings and proceeded to run the pilot project for the hook. 
Over the past few years, the hook has been distributed in Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal.
in collaboration with Karl Simmons