the people

clean bin projectWe are Jen, Grant and Rhyannon! The Clean Bin Project started in Vancouver, BC.

I’m Jen, and I do the blog. (I also do more than my share of organizing recycling bins and washing out the few used plastic bags we still have.)

Grant was the one who actually sat up in bed one night and said “hey, let’s stop buying stuff for a year”. He’s also the one who said “hey, you should write a blog about it”. He and I made an award winning feature documentary of our project that has screened across Canada and is now playing at film festivals. We we still live together, in Vancouver, BC, continuing our zero waste lifestyle.

Rhyannon was our roommate when we did the project, and we managed to pressure her into participating in our environmental antics. Just kidding, she loves it. She now lives in Edmonton, Alberta, but she visits all the time.

But who are we really? When I read other peoples’ blogs, I always wonder what they do for a living. How the heck do they have time to sort recycling and write lengthy installments daily – they must be journalists or independently wealthy, unemployed insomniacs or something. Au contrare. Rhyannon was a social worker during the project (she is now studying Law), Jen works for a green building non-profit, and Grant is a music producer and filmmaker. See, we’re just regular working professionals like yourself; don’t you feel satisfied now that you know?

During the project, we each had a separate garbage bin. In the end, we were each responsible for our own trash, but the group mentality kept us honest. We shared recycling bins, otherwise it could gotten out of control with bins around here (we already have about 10 different options going on).

The Clean Bin Project is more than just a personal challenge. We want to challenge others out there to become aware of how much waste they generate too. We love it when people say “I was recycling my shampoo bottle the other day, so I thought of you” (that is an actual quote). There are many many people out there trying to reduce waste, and only if we share our stories can we make any difference.


38 responses to “the people

  1. Emma Gault

    Hey Guys,

    This idea is fantastic and the website is stellar. I am so proud of you guys for embarking on this mission and I am excited to hear about your journey throughout the year.

    Regards Emma

  2. Bryan McPherson

    Awesome work! I am inspired to find further ways to reuse and reduce.

    Can’t wait to see the documentary!

    Cheers, Bryan

  3. Louise Evans-Salt

    what do you put your actual garbage into that is going to the land fill i am trying to get away from plastic bags completely but not sure what to put my garbage in

  4. Jen CleanBin

    Well actually, we don’t put our garbage in anything. It just sits in the little bin. We don’t have anything messy or smelly in there because we compost food scraps and wash and recycle everything we can. Our landfill garbage only has things like broken glass and dishes and a popped bicycle tire.

    However, if we did have to bag our garbage before we put it on the curbside (as some municipalities make you do), I guess we could just put it in a paper bag or wrap it in a newspaper like they used to do “in the old days”. Or we could buy compostable plastic bags which are actually made from corn or some such other degradable material.

    Luckily, we won’t have to deal with that for for a year as we are keeping our garbage until next July (not putting it out every week is another incentive not to put smelly stuff in the bin).

  5. So glad I found this blog! Best of luck to both of you!

  6. Pingback: Interview with The Clean Bin Project « Greenbudget’s Blog

  7. Susan Stepanchuk

    HEY! I never new you guys were blogging this! Sweet. How inspiring!

  8. jake daly

    this is the most radical thing ive heard about all day. inspiring! youve given us many ideas…

    i cant wait to see the documentary!

    good luck!

  9. Hey Grant – great to have shredded with you on the weekend at Backcountry Snowcats. Your mission is truly inspirational and an awesome challenge. I will keep an eye on your progress. The very best of luck.

    Jim Morris

  10. I am intrigued & inspired by your project!

    Just last week my partner and I were discussing how we could reduce our garbage as much as possible… and along came the MEC catalogue yesterday with your story on page 79!

    We have a monthly ‘Be The Change’ film series here (in Collingwood, Ontario) and I am excited to recommend your documentary once it has been released!

    Thank you for taking on this challenge and sharing it with all of us.


  11. Colin

    I think the Clean Bin projet is a good proget. I think most people aren’t aware of global warming and the Clean Bin projet is a good way to raise awareness of global warming. It is a good way to help the earth but if you recycle some thing it will sooner or later end up in the garbage. I have a question. What do you do if you whant to reuse but don’t know what to do with it?

    Colin grade 5

    • Hi Colin,
      You’re right. Recycling only goes so far because most things that are recycled eventually find their way into a landfill. Reusing is something that we should all think about before recycling.

      You can reuse lots of things just as they are. For example, I reuse pasta sauce jars to hold things I buy in bulk like beans and raisins and even buttons or coins. You can also look on the internet for good reuse ideas. Sites like or have some good ideas on how you can reuse everyday objects.

      If you have something that you think that someone else might want to reuse, you could post it on craigslist or freecycle or take it to a local charity shop. Usually each Province or State has a Recycling Council that can provide answers. For example, in BC, I would look at the Recycling Council of BC. In Ontario, I would look at the Recycling Council of Ontario. I hope that helps.

  12. Great project! Can’t wait to follow along with you.

  13. Leighton Balagno


    You came to my school (Boundry) earlier, I think that your mission is amazing. I am in love with your ideas and the experiences and not gifts, wow!

    I am humbled by you and your mission


    • Thanks for checking out our blog Leighton! I’m glad you related to our project. Actually, we were pretty impressed by how much you guys already knew (and by the huge pile of recycling in the hallway). You had some great ideas for experiences of your own – I especially liked the idea to make a donation in someone’s name. I hope that you all use the great brainstorming session you did to create some great changes around the school!

  14. Kyler

    Hey Jen et al.
    Awesome project, nice blog, I only regret that it wasn’t ’till you posted the Globe article on Facebook that I heard about this.

  15. Aaron Livingstone

    Hey Jen. I caught your movie at Granville cinema, and was impressed with what you three have done for a year. I noticed you had what looked like a comprehensive list of recyclables (as well as the methods one would use to recycle materials not easily facilitated by municiple blue-bins?) inside your pantry door. This seems to me a key item in making purchasing decisions and organizing household bins, and yet I can’t find anything like that on the internet. Did you compile it yourself, and if so, can I cheat offa you? It seems to me part of the answer to organizing a messy materialistic world is nice, handy lists to sort things out with. Thanks much for the inspiration.

    • Hi Aaron,
      On our pantry door, we have a list of all the types of plastics – I think we got it from the City of Vancouver Website. If not, the North Shore Recycling Program likely has some good resources. In our house, we have the following little bins under the sink: Blue box (tin cans, plastics 1,2,4,5), newspaper, regular paper, low grade paper (ie iceceam boxes), metals, unnumbered plastics (lids etc), soft plastics, compost. I hope that helps a bit!

  16. Karim

    I saw the two of you–no Rhyannon–in Kingston last night, and I think it is excellent.

    I can reduce getting more and wash/reuse those plastic veggie bags we get at the grocery stores. They are easy to rely on [abuse] now that I bring my own bags. Also, I plan to stop buying white pants and listening to Toto.

  17. christine

    I was in Kingston on the 13th and am so sorry I missed you. Any chance you will be doing another tour and could fit in Southwestern Ontario (I live in Waterloo)? Will your film become more widely available for public screening or for used in classrooms? (A few years ago Al Gore’s film was made available to Ontario teachers for use in schools. Unfortunately, the content was a little out of reach for most children 12 and under but was terrific for the middle- and secondary schools.)
    I am an elementary teacher and would love to be able to introduce your project and film to junior grade level students. In a couple of weeks, my Grade 5 students and I will be spearheading our school’s incursion into a school GreenBin curbside composting program and I’ve been dreaming up ways to get a group of 10-year-olds excited about weighing garbage, monitoring waste, and learning (then teaching other students) how to refuse, reduce reuse, recycle. Right now I’m literally in the process of planning my year (hence my procrastinating detour through your website : ) –turns out I’ve struck gold, though). I’m heading in to the school in a few minutes to ensure that the Board does not have a filter that blocks your website and blog. I’d like to use it as part of my language and science program as well as to provide inspiration for furthering the school eco-program.

    I’m also a mom. For years the “joke” around my family has been that kids won’t want to come to my son’s birthday party because the party favours are likely to be broccoli in washed out milk bags. These days, my colleagues can’t understand how I can manage to get around without the daily use of a car. I tell them it is all about mindset and routine. You just start doing it and soon you’ve established a routine, including always knowing where your mittens and rain suit are. ; )

    I’m looking forward to knowing more about how and when your film will be made more widely available. In the meantime, best of luck with the rest of your tour and congratulations on making your project so public. That’s always been a difficult issue with environmental educators; how to get the word out. You’ve done a great service by showing this can easily be accomplished.


    • Karim – nice catch on the Toto tape!
      Christine – sorry for the late reply. I’m super stoked that you want to use the blog as fodder for classroom work! Let me know how it goes! For the film – sorry we missed you – I’m going to put a newsletter sign up option at and we’ll use the newsletter to let people know about screenings and DVDs and film festivals etc. Thanks so much for your positive feedback and educational ambitions. And for the record, I would LOVE to receive broccoli in my goodie bag.

  18. sheena


    Hav eyou put any thought into showings this winter? I am looking to bring you to University of the Fraser Valley and am wondering what your plans are. I enjoyed your show in abbotsford. – sheena , sustainability coordinator.

    • Hi Sheena,
      Thanks for the feedback! We are taking a break for December and most of Jan while we focus on other projects and wait to hear from festivals (cross your fingers for us!) After that, we’ll be back on the community screenings.

  19. Ashley

    Ever since I met you guys in August when you cycled through Sault Ste Marie, I have felt more conscious of ways I can reduce my waste. Seeing your big triumph has inspired me to adopt some of the little tips you used on your trip.
    Thanks so much.

  20. Alyssa

    I find your intiative super inspiring! I’m always really keen on learning about environmental causes that other people are inspired about. I am president of the environmental club at my school located in north of vancouver in Powell River, BC. and my first thoughts upon stumbling upon your blog is “hey we should bring this to Powell River and have some sort of environmental awareness event regaurding waste reductions and plastics”. I am not sure if your group would be interested in making a trip up to present the film and answer questions about it but I know that there is a great support system of local environmental groups in my community who would love to see this come to town. I am unsure what your guys schedules are like or if this would even draw your interest, however, if you are keen to putting something together I would love to organize an event like this. I hope we can work together! and thanks so much for the empowerment! PS: The cycle up hear is gorgeous! 🙂

  21. Zoe

    Just saw your documentary at my school yesterday (Vancouver Technical Secondary) and I loved it! It was funny and informing! But I have an odd question, what is the name of Grant’s band? And was the music in the film by his band? I think what you guys are doing is amazing, and it inspires me to do the same! Hopefully it’ll catch on, and Vancouver will be one of the first cities to help eliminate our waste!

    • Hi Zoe, I’m so glad you liked it! We were so excited by the great response at Van Tech. Grant’s band is called Phontaine – you can find them on myspace. Most of the music in the movie was scored by Grant specifically for the movie, but there some of the songs are by his band. There are also a few songs from local artists. You can find out more about them at

  22. Dea'

    I just came home from the ‘Reel Waste’ screeming of your film. Loved it. LOVED IT. It was SO worth my time and I can’t wait to see what conversations and actions of change come about (in my family, in the greater community, etc) because of it. Yay to you guys!

  23. Nice work folks. It is tough to find what environmental action to take while living in the industrialized world. It seems like you have found a good start.

    We would like to invite you to come visit our project. It is a little permaculture farm in the middle of the woods.
    In April we have a sustainability festival and you could show your film there!
    Cumbre Yah!

    -Brian Fey

  24. Kristin Henry

    Hello amazing people

    I literally just finished watching your movie, and you are truly inspiring. I hope you will be pleased to here that you have convinced me to never buy anything packaged in plastic again. The easiest, most simple change I can make that i saw in your movie is to not bag the vegetables and fruit I buy at the store. For some reason, I thought it was mandatory to have them bagged at checkout. Thanks for paving the way.

    I am a vegan, for environmental and moral reasons. As a communication student, I am extremely critical of consumer culture, and even last semester did a presentation on the drastic impacts that the amount of unrecycled plastic is having on our environment, I buy used clothes, and of course nothing with any leather or animal products. I never buy plastic packaged drinks and bring my own bags to the store. Your movie put into words and actions everything I feel no power to do. I feel helpless in changing the ideology of consumer culture, but I think your movie is an amazing way to get the message across, and start the way. The same way that meat is thought of as a crucial aspect to the North American diet, plastic is seen as just another inevitable part of every day life. This is not the case, and changing the worlds perspective is a daunting task,

    THANK YOU FOR MAKING YOUR MOVIE! CONGRATULATIONS! You have successful changed my outlook on shopping for good. No more plastic, ever.

  25. Amber Sager

    Awesome website! My new, new years resolution. It helps to read all these great tips on the blog.

  26. I’m very impressed that you are doing this project! An Earth is our only planet, so we have to protect our green planet ourselves. We will be able to do that when we practice using less stuffs, not trashing lots of garbage, and not using eletric devices.

  27. I just finished watching the movie CleanBinProject with my wife. I admire you three (why only Zen and Grant in the movie, but not Rhyannon?) for doing such great things. The movie is really inspirational, and the idea is really worth spreading. I am now more conscious about my behavior and shopping habits regarding to the recycle aspect of things. I just went through your blogs and found really interesting articles there. My favorites are Unpackaged and Do The Stomp. Wish you well and hope to see more from you!

    • Thanks for your feedback! We all participated in the challenge, but Grant and I (Jen) were making the film, and we didn’t have tons of footage of Rhyannon. Plus once we edited, the dynamic of him vs me was a compelling story, so we stuck with it 🙂

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