The New York Times – Shopping With Scott Henderson

Cleaning Up the Trash

JUST because bins are used to separate trash from recyclables doesn’t mean they must look like garbage. The industrial designer Scott Henderson said, “If you have to throw trash away, you might as well use some kind of clever container.”

Mr. Henderson, based in Brooklyn, specializes in giving everyday objects a little more life, a process that he describes as “transforming the mundane.” Over the years, he has created everything from an ergonomic dustpan and brush for OXO to a circular baby-bottle-drying rack that resembles splashing liquid, with an integrated scrub brush holster, for Skip Hop, a maker of baby products.

Lately, he’s been thinking a lot about bins. Come July 1, 2010, the New York City sanitation department plans to stop collecting electronics as trash and require that they be recycled. In response, a group of technology and design organizations started a competition to develop ideas for a collection container and logo for the so-called “fourth bin” — beyond the three bins that exist for paper, plastic and glass, and trash. Their Web site,, has been receiving proposals, and a jury, including Mr. Henderson, plans to announce the winners on Sept. 19.

With or without the new rule, managing trash and recycling at home can be a messy business. During a shopping trip in Manhattan and online, Mr. Henderson selected a few products for getting these jobs done with flair.

At the Alessi store in SoHo, he admired the Blow Up magazine holder by the Brazilian designers Fernando and Humberto Campana. A sculptural piece made from sticks of mirror-polished steel, it is a stylish option for gathering old magazines and newspapers in plain sight before they are put in the recycling bin.

To help sort cans and bottles from kitchen trash, he suggested the Simplehuman Butterfly Recycler at Bed Bath & Beyond in Chelsea. It looks like a typical stainless-steel container but has two compartments — one for recyclables and the other for trash — and has top flaps that reminded him of automobile gull-wing doors.

He also liked the DCI Clothespin Trash Can from for its simple design and its emphasis on recycling: composed of a set of clothespins on miniature stilts, it turns paper or plastic bags into wastebaskets. For storing those bags until they are ready to be used, he suggested OXO’s stainless-steel bag holder at Crate & Barrel, which has a divider to help organize different sizes of bags.

For a classic trash bin, he liked a container originally designed by Holger Nielsen in 1939 — the sturdy Vipp 16 pedal bin, in taxi yellow, at the Conran Shop on the Upper East Side. “It will last forever,” he said (although the company still offers repair parts, just in case). At $349, it may cost more than other bins, he said, but “I like the idea of buying something only once.”

It’s a trash container that should never have to end up on the curb.



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