Blog 2: Zero Waste Project

What has been done so far (achievements to date)?

✔Completed our project proposal

✔Conducted our first observation at Kerrisdale community center on February 10th

✔Had second meeting with our community partners

  • discussed decal designs and findings so far from this project


Objectives for this week

  • Meet with our community partners to discuss findings and get feedback to improve our decal designs.
  • Discuss findings from the data collected as a group so that everyone in the group will be on the same page.
  • Modify decal designs prior to their implementation.
  • Plan for the next data collection (who is going and on what day)


It is the 4th week of February. That means midterms…are you happy (to be done) or sad (not to do well)? Well, let’s not think about our individual accomplishments for now and look instead at what we had done collectively as a group.

Our story started on Fri

day February 10, 2017 when three members of our team went into the Kerrisdale community center. When we arrived at the community center, it was nearly empty inside at 1PM so that we decided to conduct the second-round observation from a quarter to 3PM as we have heard from a community staff that their busiest hour is around 3PM. Since it was such a small community center and only a few zero waste stations’ users out there, we watched out for two different zero waste stations to increase the sample size. Although our tasks seemed simple, it was challenging to observe what people di

scard while remaining inconspicuous because we had to sit somewhere in the middle of the both stations in order to observe the two different garbage stations (it was hard to see). In fact, we had to go closer to the bins and opened the lids to see what people put into bins.

*Kerrisdale Community Center


Our moment of significance came after analyzing the raw data. The correctness for female and male is 60 percent and 57 percent, respectively when it comes to sorting waste accuracy. This is well below the diversion rate of 79 percent presented by our community partners. To our surprise, kids had the highest average of correctness (67 percent) while seniors had the lowest rate (50 percent); however, our sample size is extremely small: 3 kids, 8 adults, and 6 seniors. As a result, we cannot draw any conclusion with this small sample size. Another thing we noticed is that people are less likely to sort mixed paper items correctly. This implies that people are often confused when dealing with paper items or perhaps they assume that paper typically goes into garbage instead of mixed paper. We hope that we can find a reasonable answer for the result by analyzing the data more carefully.


So What?

Our initial observation findings at Kerrisdale Community Center revealed that the community center users are not performing particularly well in terms of waste sorting activities, represented by approximately 60 percent accuracy in sorting waste regardless of their gender. This implies good and bad because at present, people are not well informed of what goes into what bin but at the same time, it is a sign that there is a lot of room for improvement, which we hope we can help with using our decals. Thus, we probably should make it clearer that what goes into mixed paper bin and garbage bin when designing and modifying our decals before introducing.

As discussed above, people seem to be confused with paper items, such as paper, paper towel, scrap paper, and tissue. This could be explained by the fact that even same types of paper go into different waste bins depending on the condition of an item: clean or dirty and dry or wet. We believe that this is fairly upsetting for most people and we would probably need to tackle this to increase diversion rate.

If we break it down into different age groups, it shows that children did well relative to adult and senior groups. Yet again we have to note that the sample size is quite small. However, it is promising to raise awareness of sustainability to any further if that is truly the case because younger generations are the ones grow up with more knowledge about sustainability or at least they are more exposed to the idea of sustainability and later on educate future generations. Ron Finley articulates “To change the community, you have to change the composition of soil” (Ted Talk, 2013). The kids are the primary soil that will nurture the future crops and he echoes the idea that educating children will change their community. The behavior of children at Kerrisdale Community Center perhaps reflects the effort of current educational system in Vancouver. We expect that younger generation will even perform better to achieve sustainable lifestyle if they become familiarized themselves with zero waste stations and other sustainability promoting programs.


Now What?

Although the demographic statistics (gender, age, race) in our research does not reveal anything significant at this moment, we plan to continue collecting these information for our second observation, hoping that there might be some coloration between these attributes and waste management activities to identify certain groups of people who struggle the most for waste disposal. Thus, we can recreate decal designs, more specifically targeted to the group we identified.


Upcoming objectives and strategies to achieve them

  1. Analyze the data obtained from our initial observation as a group to make any improvement in our decals that target people struggling the most in terms of waste management behavior. We collaborate with the other zero-waste project group to exchange ideas and findings to come up with more efficient decal designs. Come up with ways to improve observations as it was relatively hard to identify what was being sorted for some items.
  2. Redesign our decals based on the feedback from our community partners and then print it off the decal designs to tape to the bins in the Kerrisdale Community Center to test out how they work.
  3. Come up with ways to improve observation procedures as it was relatively hard to identify what was being sorted for some items while not approaching to the zero waste stations (it was suspicious to some extent).
  4. Conduct 2nd observation at Kerrisdale Community Center. To keep things consistent, we will be using the same observation methods as our first visit but we will do it in a different time frame to maximize our sample size because their busiest hour is 3-5PM. Also, we will informally approach people in the center to ask them their thoughts about the decal and the zero-waste station to gain additional feedback.


TED Talks. (2013, March 6). Ron Finley: A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA. Retrieved


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