Designing “Badges of Honor” for Organics Recycling

Every day countless businesses across the country take extra time and effort to minimize the impact their operations have on the environment.  One of the areas in which a lot of progress is being made is in Organics Recycling. Organics recycling includes both traditional composting, as well as innovative programs such as “Food-to-People,” in which edible food is donated to people in need, and “Food-to-Livestock,” in which organic waste is sent to local farmers for hog-feed. Food scraps and food-soiled paper make up a ¼ of our garbage, creating methane (a potent greenhouse gas) when landfilled.  Recycling these organics reduces garbage in our landfills, creates valuable resources and provides economic development opportunities.


We want to make it easier for anyone to know which restaurants and businesses go that extra mile to make our world better.  We believe if people know which restaurants donate their food scraps to a local food shelter, or what businesses recycled their organics by participating in a local composting program, they will choose those businesses over others.  By recognizing these businesses for their efforts, we hope to encourage others to participate in cutting down their waste.

To get the ball rolling, we’ve teamed up with Minneapolis’ Hennepin County Environmental Services to host an Iconathon design workshop with the goal of creating a badge system that can be displayed on storefronts across the city.   These “badges of honor” will be similar in nature to the Yelp or Zagat rating stickers that can be seen on restaurants around the country.  The Iconathon will be held on Sunday, March 24th as part of University of Minnesota College of Design’s Public Interest Design Week.


We’ve chosen Hennepin County as our partner in this because they have been at the forefront of the organics recycling movement.  The county has assisted businesses, schools and cities in setting up organics recycling programs, including providing a grant to the City of Minneapolis for a pilot curbside organics recycling program in the Linden Hills neighborhood. Currently, about 150 businesses in the county, such as Target, MSP Airport and IKEA, as well as numerous schools and colleges, participate in organics recycling.

When the recycling movement began in the early 1970’s, a 23-year-old college student Gary Anderson created the now universally recognized recycling symbol that has since had a tremendous effect on our environment.  Our goal is to engage the design community and civic activists to create new “badges of honor” to encourage more recycling programs around the world.  The icons created during the Iconathon will be released into the public domain to be used by anyone interested in engaging in recycling programs.

The Organics Recycling Iconathon is sponsored by the University of Minnesota College of and The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.


Event Details:

When: Sunday, March 24th from 10:30am to 3:30pm

Where: University of Minnesota, College of Design, Rapson Hall at 89 Church Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455.

RSVP: Seating is limited, RSVP for free tickets.


Yelp sticker photo taken by Robyn Lee.