Dumpster Painting

In 2014, to commemorate their 10 year anniversary, Revolution Recovery commission RAIR to paint 10 of their dumpsters as part of the #DumpsterDoubleTake campaign. The goal of the campaign was to get people to think twice when they see a dumpster and to spur conversations about waste instead of perpetuating the status quo, "out of sight, out of mind." RAIR's team solicited designs an selected local artists Andrew Jeffrey Wright, Steven Dufala, Leks Kamihira, Lucia Thomé, and Billy Dufala to paint on the dumpsters. 

In 2015, RAIR invited artist Kaitlin Pomerantz of the botanical arts and outreach project “We The Weeds” to paint one of Revolution Recovery’s recycling dumpsters. RAIR’s painted dumpsters can be spotted all around the city at new construction and building demolition sites. For her design, Pomerantz found inspiration in the plants that grow around RAIR’s facility, highlighting parallels between “weeds” and “waste” as valuable materials.

The plants that we call “weeds” that we see growing in vacant spaces all around Philadelphia are up to a lot more than we give them credit for . . . Most of these plants are serving some ecological function: cleaning air and soil, creating oxygen, stabilizing soil, providing habitat and nourishment for pollinators and other wildlife. So, these plants are kind of magic . . . they’ve managed to thrive in awful conditions without any attention or cultivation, and they are actually engaged in a process of recycling and transformation. When RAIR asked me to design dumpsters that related to themes of nature and recycling, my mind immediately went to these plants which grow all around RAIR.
— Kaitlin Pomerantz

In 2015, RAIR also brought dumpster painting into a more educational setting by working with educator Desiree Bender to design and pilot a program integrating art education and environmental sustainability. Bender and members of the RAIR team visited a middle school class at George W. Nebinger School to give a series of presentations on the waste stream. After taking a field trip to RAIR’s facilities, students presented their observations of the recycling center to the class, and drew a series of dumpster designs. One design was selected to be painted on a Revolution Recovery dumpster.

RAIR also helped 9- and 10-year-old boys from Saint Dorothy School in Drexel Hill compete in the First Lego League (FLL) Competition. For their FLL project, the team organized a school-wide competition for a design to be painted on their school’s recycling dumpster. With the guidance of their coach Jenny Spinner and a RAIR team member, the boys held a latex paint drive to source recycled paint for the project, ran the competition’s selection process, and worked with the winning sixth-grade girl to trace and paint her design on the school dumpster. helped 9- and 10-year-old boys from Saint Dorothy School in Drexel Hill compete in the First Lego League (FLL) Competition. For their FLL project, the team organized a school-wide competition for a design to be painted on their school’s recycling dumpster. With the guidance of their coach Jenny Spinner and a RAIR team member, the boys held a latex paint drive to source recycled paint for the project, ran the competition’s selection process, and worked with the winning sixth-grade girl to trace and paint her design on the school dumpster.

The painted dumpsters have been positively received by both the construction and art communities.