Bangkok waste norms


To one unfamiliar with Bangkok’s sidewalk trashcans, the above photograph would look like a thoughtless act. Only when municipal cleaners have caught up with local residents’ pace of garbage generation and this key piece of sidewalk infrastructure is effectively “reset” does the act become recontextualized as considerate: one that saves the waste collector time and effort by keeping trash  concentrated in its “intended” space. A minimalist approach to a trashcan (a bare wire frame) becomes even more minimal (sans large bag) but not too minimal (spread all over the sidewalk).


Considering both the official municipal rubbish bin and the improvised rebar-crafted number next to this Bangkok construction site, could you take anything away from these two solutions and still call them “rubbish bins” (or trashcans, depending on context)? If you took something away, what would they become instead? Although possibly just hanging a bag on a wall, the part of a rubbish bin that identifies it as a rubbish bin to the rubbish-producers is necessary (perhaps a sign could be worked around by simply placing some “starter garbage” in and hoping crowds follow your example). Nonetheless, when you want the rubbish bin to entreat passerby to use it, best to make it at street-level, and include an appeal to use it.

“Pitch in!”


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