Wooh, it’s been a while since I’ve updated this GYK blog — sorry to you, both readers and the blog! I’ve been truly busy with my job and the whole New Year/Decade thing, that I hadn’t been keeping up with this blog. But from now on, I’ll make sure to check in more often and update regularly & better ūüėČ

Beautified Dumpster

A"beautified" NYC Dumpster (source: The New York Times)

Anyway, the real reason I came to write on this blog today is to discuss this article I read earlier today, and the concept of ‘beautifying ugly objects’ which was discussed in the article. (By the way, this post is not related in anyway with kitchen or food — instead it focuses fully on “green” part of this blog Green Your Kitchen) You can see the full article¬†featured on New York Times¬†by clicking here, but to give you a brief summary, the article talks about how a young Roman woman —¬†along with two of her friends —¬†wallpapered a couple of dumpsters on the streets of Manhattan, NY. And it added how ‚Äúit‚Äôs a simple concept, beautifying an ugly object.” Basically, the article was showcasing an example of how the public space/fixtures could turn from ugly to beauty with a simple idea, and how that task of “beautification” was able to turn ugly dumpsters into ‘street artifacts’, only with a little extra care.

As I was reading through the article, I was able to recall a same idea that I encountered back in 2002 — back then, my home country co-hosted the FIFA World Cup — when more than half of the public trash bins were painted/decorated to be soccer-themed in my hometown.¬†Since I was only 15 at the time I don’t recall much detail about it. But as far as I can remember, those soccer-ball-looking trash bins¬†were not¬†only¬†successful in raising the World Cup spirit for visitors and citizens during the event period, but also were successful in keeping streets look clean & unique for a short while after the event was over. Even as a citizen living in the country, I was quite impressed by how those beautified-trash-bins could transform the entire look of the streets and the city. I also recall how, at the time,¬†I wished those nice looking trash bins would be kept that way (though their looks would change over time) forever after the World Cup — only to find out that was never going to happen — and how I was disappointed to see the¬†ugly trash bins¬†back in action, or I should say back on streets, again soon after the even had ended.

Ordinary, Ugly Dumpster

An ugly dumpster of NYC

Ever since then, I never really went back to thinking about” beautification” of trash bins,¬†dumpsters, or any other ugly, worn-out¬†street fixtures; until today, when I encountered the article I mentioned earlier in this post.¬† The article led me to look back at my great memories about soccer-themed trash bins on one side, and the ugly & dirty trash bins and dumpsters I encounter on the corners of every block here in NYC on the other side.¬†And I’m thinking that¬†maybe this idea of ‘beautifying¬†ugly objects’ could be implemented¬†widely through out¬†different cities and countries, and it could be more widely used to beautify not only trash bins and dumpsters but also any other public fixtures that are¬†ugly¬†or dirty, such as old postal boxes and manhole covers.

With a little more background knowledge on financial relationship between an investment (executing costly projects) and returns (benefits those projects bring) as a grown up, I understand that a¬†project to beautify ugly public fixtures may not be the smartest investment knowing it would not produce any direct & immediate economic benefits.¬† However,¬†if you’ve lived through last decade of 20th century until now, you all probably had noticed that all the electricity poles & cables have been hidden from above-ground to below-ground, and are hard to encounter anymore. And it may be hard to remember, or notice, the difference in looks between before & after hiding the poles & cables, but if you have a chance to actually compare the two and see the difference, you’ll be surprised to discover the extreme disparity in looks between the two — this whole concept of ‘beautifying ugly objects’ is not much different from the idea of hiding electricity poles and cables.¬† YOU ARE INVESTING YOUR EFFORT and/or MONEY for A GREENER, BETTER-LOOKING ENVIRONMENT FOR EVERYONE.¬† The primary return we should look for in an investment like this is the “environmental transformation” of the town or country, and NOT something like ‘bringing in certain figures of money’ — though it could even create some economic benefits in the long run with rising reputation as a “green” town or country, which then leads to possible increase in tourism, etc.

The point I’m making here is that as a person who has¬†experienced and felt the beauty of beautifying ugly street fixtures, such efforts are really worth the money and the effort. And while such investments, or efforts, may seem unjustifiable financially in a short run, we must realize that though not financial, greener environment is a wonderful asset everyone can enjoy and a huge, intangible benefit that such investment in time, effort, and money can bring to us all. I hope the general public as well as policy makers are able to realize the value in- and beauty of- ‘beautifying ugly objects’, and wish that people would become more and more willing to contribute in making our environment better and cleaner — whether that be in a form of smaller voluntary activities or as a part of larger public policy/project.