Inside Iowa State

Inside Archives

Submit news

Send news for Inside to, or call (515) 294-7065. See publication dates, deadlines.

About Inside

Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Feb. 9, 2007

Interactive recycling

by Samantha Beres

This was no ordinary recycling bin. It was a five-story "bottle sock" - a tube of chicken wire mesh supported by bicycle rims in the Design building atrium. Last semester, in just six weeks, the tube filled one and a half times, collecting 4,757 cans and plastic bottles.

bottle sock

The "bottle sock" that collected thousands of empties. Contributed photo.

Keihly Moore, a senior in architecture, and fellow design students who belong to the Iowa chapter of Architecture for Humanity (AFH) constructed the bottle sock to kick off a recycling campaign. AFH is a professional, national organization that uses design to solve problems and improve society. AFH-IA was started by Design faculty and students.

"We were looking to make a public statement that there's a need for recycling. It's a need that is unfulfilled right now," Moore said.

The sock enticed people to take part. People brought their empties in from football games and from other buildings - a custodian from the Armory contributed more than a thousand cans and bottles.

"People adapted to it and it was fun," said Moore. "Every time someone was looking at it, they were smiling."

They may have been smiling at the clinking sound cans made as they dropped their way sixty feet down the sock, hitting the wire mesh and bouncing off of one another. This sound was a featured "SoundClip" on National Public Radio's All Things Considered program Jan. 8.

When the sock came down at the end of fall semester, AFH-IA wanted to keep the recycling momentum going and held a contest open to the public. Participants had three hours to design and build an interesting recycling bin, one that was fun. Supplies were scrounged up from around campus.

Moore, along with Grant Nordby (architecture) and Mark Pieper (mechanical engineering), built a 3-D recycling bin with a pallet, wire mesh left over from the bottle sock and other odds and ends. Moore described it as Plinko-like.

Users chuck an empty into the top and see which of three paths it tumbles down. The receptacle is on a wall in the Armory centerspace.

The $237 garnered when cans in the bottle sock were returned and money collected from the current recycling projects will help fund future AFH chapter recycling projects both on campus and statewide.

can drop

Architecture student Grant Nordby pours cans into a Plinko-like recycling receptacle as Keihly Moore looks on. The two built the receptacle to encourage recycling. Photo by Bob Elbert.


"We were looking to make a public statement that there's a need for recycling. It's a need that is unfulfilled right now."

- Keihly Moore