It all started one day in 2004 when the city dropped off a blue recycling bin at our place. We were so happy. “FINALLY!” we thought. Nerdily we put all our recyclables in and waited for the pick up. We waited, and waited, and waited for two sad years. They never came. Frustrated, we took matters into our own hands. We made a simple wire mesh bin and attached a sign with a tongue-in-cheek anarchist message, “HI-5 / Take, Leave, Whatevas…” We added our redeemables and set it up at our front yard. Viola they were picked up. Soon unknown people dropped off their own redeemables, and these too were picked up without ceremony!!! If it worked so well at our front yard, we thought why not put them everywhere.

The idea caught on very quickly. People invited us to do workshops. We collaborated with civic groups. A few people sent money for materials. We even received a small grant from Hawai‘i People’s Fund. By our unscientific estimate, over 1,000 bins have placed on O‘ahu along with a few on Maui.

In 2011 the unexpected happened. The coordinator of Honolulu City and County’s Environmental Services (ENV) called us. Instead of being defensive or charging us a fine, she told us she liked the simplicity of our design, concept, and its community-building potential. To make a long (and painfully bureaucratic) story short ENV officially adopted the HI-5 project in 2013. Like we did before, ENV will work with anyone, particularly groups, to make and set up bins, providing instructions and all needed supplies. Most miraculously ENV kept the language of our “TAKE, LEAVE, WHATEVAS…” motto as well as our DIY instructions that explicitly say to trust without apology! To prove that they meant it, they do not provide pickups. A major triumph over the irrational fear of strangers! Anarchists are everywhere.

So go ahead…
– Request a bin-making kit or a workshop from C+C Environmental Services (
– Or better yet, downloadable step-by-step instructions and take matters into your own hands

Lastly, we must acknowledge that recycling, no matter how comprehensive, do nothing in dealing with gluttonous First World consumption patterns and the excessive packaging around all the sad shit we buy. The larger purpose of the HI-5 bin project is to create a consciousness of our interdependency through actual practice and real relationships, not based on abstract notions of groups or communities.

Lastly lastly, for a truly inspired idea see this.