Welcome to 2015, Donation Bins.

 
by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
January 4, 2015
 

Here in Seattle, we’ve seen vast changes to the technological landscape. To put it in perspective, Seattle Goodwill predates cheeseburgers and bubble gum, and we started serving the city of Seattle shortly after Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize. The vintage typewriters we now sell in stores as collectible antiques are what we used to do our work on—and now you’re reading this blog… and you’re likely reading it on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet.

One thing that hasn’t changed much in our 92 years is the basic metal donation bin. Sure, they look different now than they did in 1923, but for almost a hundred years, they’ve remained very much the same—a weatherproof donation collection point. Until now, that is. In 2014, we began installing SmartBin sensor technology in all of our metal collection bins, and began using SmartBins. Why is this so exciting, you ask?

First of all, we’re Seattleites—so we tend to get a little nerdy over technology and the data we can get from it. Second of all, the SmartBin technology allows us to monitor our bins in real time in a way that we never could before. Having this donation bin data helps us provide better customer service—while simultaneously reducing our environmental impact (per pound of donated goods). Here are a few ways SmartBins have changed how we collect donations at Seattle Goodwill:

SmartBin sensors let us know when our bins are full.
In the past, we either needed to check each bin we have located throughout the region—or we had to rely on someone reporting to us that a bin was full. That meant a lot of overflowing bins—or a lot of trips out to nearly empty bins. With SmartBin technology, we can empty bins before they’re overflowing—without taking trips to bins that aren’t ready to be emptied yet.

SmartBin technology helps us make our pickup routes more efficient.
With real time data pouring in from each of our bins, we can adjust our routes accordingly. By planning our pickups around bins we know need service—and skipping the ones that don’t—we can reduce our fuel use, wear and tear on our vehicles, and ultimately be better environmental stewards.

SmartBin technology allows us to put a bin almost anywhere—and monitor it from afar.
We have a wide variety of donation bin sizes and shapes, and since we don’t need to worry as much about checking in regularly (because the SmartBins sensors do that for us), we can put a bin almost anywhere—like in the parking garage in your apartment building or office, in or near your campus dorm, or at your community center.

Did reading this blog just make you think, “wow—a SmartBin at my apartment complex would be awesome!” or something like that? Reach out to us! We’d love to talk to you about where a SmartBin would best serve you and your community. We would love to your idea on where a SmartBin could be—and we can do the follow up work!


 

Kim fancies herself a professional communicator. She has experience in writing, graphic design, and social media, and is always looking to expand her knowledge base into other fields of communication. She loves people, coffee & Seattle (including the rain).

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