Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Interview with Care Taker

Today I met up with the main University of Limerick care taker for a chat about the litter issue around the campus. This was very informative because it reshaped all my original ideas surrounding my initial designs. It turns out that the living bridge is very clean in comparison to other hot areas around campus that have a very severe litter problem. Tom Flaherty was very helpful in explaining in great detail the main concerns on campus. He took time to walk me about the campus to highlight certain issues that would go unnoticed to the everyday student.
In our discussion he explained that the living bridge is cleaned twice a day and that there is next to no litter issue there, only for cigarette buts and the occasional dog droppings. However he did go on to explain that the main hot areas are firstly the courtyard at the students union were the shop is. As we walked around the court yard he explained that the area had been cleaned only within hours and he pointed all the litter that had generated in such a short space of time. He even pointed out all the bins and showed me how much litter there was in them. I asked the question what he felt was the percentage of rubbish in bins compared to litter found around the campus and he explained that at least 20% is found around the campus in various locations and that 80% is actually bined. He went on to further explain that it was the new students that were starting in year 1 that littered the most and that as they progressed through the years they actually got cleaner. When I asked him about foreign students, he said that in his experience they were very good at disposing of their rubbish.
I questioned him about his concern of what litter was of the biggest concern. He explained that it was general waste and plastic around the court yard and the pavilion. Also another issue was glass and cans on the Thomond bridge because of the large number of students that live near by that socialize.
He explained that a bin that takes general waste which has a compartment for plastic would be helpful. When I asked about other recyclable materials he explained that there was not enough time for him to individually go through the materials for recycling. In the court yard he explained that there was not a concern about glass only litter and plastic. When we talked about the Pavilion and how there is two cigarette disposal bins at the doors of the concert hall he explained that people still prefer to use the ground to dispose of their butts. He felt that around the Library, all though there was litter about, cigarettes were the main problem.
We had a chat about the most appropriate bins that would help promote students and staff of disposing their rubbish and he explained that the on the Clare side of campus they have implemented a double bin that takes plastic and general litter. This he felt was a great idea because when the bins are emptied, all that is needed is the plastic to be bagged and tagged and the rubbish to be disposed off. However he was concerned about the size of the bins and felt that they would need to be emptied more than two or three times a day so that they don't overflow with rubbish because of their size. The good news was that he said within two weeks the University would be implementing these bins in the area of the students union and shop. However as I mentioned, he felt these were too small to deal with the heavy flow of rubbish. He explained that his day is over loaded and indeed the team of workers around the campus with just cleaning, starting early in the morning to get rid of Glass before college starts for health and safety issues to late in the evening to clean up the end of day traces of litter. Furthermore he said that Friday mornings he would always get a lot of glass because Thursday evening would be the busiest night out for students. 
When I look through my notes from the meeting, he did mention that the areas of most traffic of walking were the areas of most litter, and the areas of less traffic like the living bridge would be cleaner.  To finish off the meeting Tom showed me the tools he would use and the quantity of rubbish that would be gathered daily which really was huge. When I asked Tom would he like to see newer ways for people on campus to become more aware to dispose of their litter, he welcomed the idea. Furthermore when we chatted about the prospect of an interactive bin in the court yard were the shop is, he defiantly felt this could help students to dispose of their litter, however the main concern was the location of bin. 
Considering my initial observation, I felt that the bins are easily enough to miss, although they are big, they are not exactly inviting or on the main path of heavy traffic. I feel that further research would be needed to understand the flow of people better in the court yard so that bins could be properly placed strategically to help encourage the disposal of rubbish and two, making the bin more inviting and engaging to the public.