Greening UNICEF

Piloting a centralized waste collection system to increase rate of recycling at the office


WHAT
Fostering sustainability and behavior change is one of the goals of the eco-efficiency team at UNICEF New York Headquarters. When I joined the team, I helped address the challenge of getting the staff to recycyle more and trash wisely. We conducted qualitative assessments, observed staff consumption and trashing patterns over a week, facilitated ideation sessions ‘Let’s talk trash’ and designed a pilot to centralize waste collection, which led to an increase in the recycling rate at the office. As part of the UNICEF New York Headquarters Green Team, I also collaborated with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to design, manage and organize a series of events at the Annual Green Fair held at the UN.

WHY
80% plastic bottles, even if thrown in a recycling bin, never get recycled. Instead, they end up in landfills. It is quintessential to boycott single-use plastic, and be mindful of the trash we create on a daily basis, in the first place. In pursuit of the SDGs, at the UN, it is even more important to ‘walk the talk’ and set a precedent for other workplaces.

OUTCOME
As part of a multi-project initiative, we created a series of communication material, as well as a toolkits to assist teams in country offices lead change and transition to eco-efficiency. The efforts were supported by the Executive Director, who enforced a ban on plastic water bottles from the office. We also  developed strategies to sustain change and encourage staff members to carry their own reusable bottles. This included, redesign of trash bin signage, placement of ‘prompts’ that read: ‘UNICEF is a plastic water bottle free zone’ in cafeteria and conference rooms on all floors. We also initiated an onboarding strategy to acquaint new employees with the adoption of a more sustainable work-life.
WHEN
2018

ROLE
DESIGN STRATEGY
SYSTEMS THINKING
COMMUNICATION DESIGN

TEAM
CHHAVI JAIN
HEIDY MARTINEZ
SUCHITRA SUGAR
WILLIAM A. ABDALLAH



Chhavi Jain 2019