C&C goes DIY for HI-5

The city is building on a grassroots recycling initiative, with a goal of 1,000 bins by the end of this year. Want to help?

Hawaii Independent Staff

You’ve probably seen these bins at public locations around town. Amazingly, the City & County of Honolulu has adopted the program as an official city project, with a goal of 1,000 community-based recycling bins around O‘ahu by the end of 2013.

We interviewed Gaye Chan, an artist and activist who is part of the Eating in Public collective that originated the idea.

When did you start the HI-5 bins? How many did you put up originally, prior to the city adopting the project?

It all started around late 2004 when one day the city dropped off a blue recycling bin at our place. We were so happy. “FINALLY!!,” we thought. We put all our recyclables in it and waited for the pick up. And waited. And waited. And waited for two years and they never came. Frustrated we took matters into our own hands. We made a simple wire mesh bin along with a sign that said, “Hi-5 / Take, leave, whatevas”, put in our redeemables, and set it up at our front yard. And viola they were picked up. Then people dropped off their own redeemables!! And then these were picked up too!!! We thought if it worked so well at our front yard we should put them everywhere. The idea caught on very quickly. People invited us to do workshops. We collaborated with community groups. We even received a small grant from the Hawaii People’s Fund. I’d say we have put up nearly 1,000 bins on Oahu and an isolated few on Maui.

Say a little about the philosophy underlying the project.

Eating in Public implements free, anarchist, autonomous, systems of exchange. Not a cent changes hands. None of the systems are owned, managed, monitored, surveilled. They only keep going if the people using them continue to keep them going. Through our various projects we aim to create a consciousness of our interdependency through actual practice and real relationships, not based on abstract notions of groups or communities.

We have set them up in private and public space. Unless we are working collaboratively with an organization, we don’t ask for permission. We don’t because we don’t believe that anyone has the authority to grant or deny us permission. Why? Because we want to make trouble and fun of the state and capitalism. We want to prove that it is possible to take care of ourselves while we take care of each other.

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