I’m working on a logo/branding/identity concept right now so I’ve been thinking a decent amount about the intersection of branding and environmentalism generally. I thought now would be a decent time to share a recycling logo I did in 2006 for recycling at the Basilica Block Party. I was part of a small group that worked to start recycling for the event and the logo was designed as a piece of that. This isn’t strictly a happify design, but it came out of the same ethos of sustainability that drives my brand.
The logo plays off of Celtic/Catholic trinity imagery/iconography in particular. The tagline I came up with for it was plastic thou art and unto plastic thou shalt return, which is a reference to the pretty ubiquitous Catholic phrase dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return. Somewhere in my five digits of digital photos are examples of the logo in situ on banners at the Block Party and I’ll share those if/when I stumble across them.
I’m not sure what has happened to the logo since I created it, though I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see it pop up on the Basilica’s materials from time to time in place of a more standard recycling logo. Our success with the Block Party was pretty amazing–within the first two years, our recycling rate was at about 97% (by volume? by weight? Google isn’t helping and my gmail is disappointingly full of references to the number, not citations to the source). That’s not terribly surprising, though, as event-goers seemed to be very happy to recycle–the first year, the recycling bins were laughably undersized but instead of turning to the huge trash bins, the crowd continued to pile their bottles in ever-more precarious cairns on and around the recycling bins. It’s the power of design! When people are given the low-effort opportunity and small reminder to make more responsible choices, they do!
Additionally, the service itself was provided by my long-time favorite recycling company, Eureka Recycling out of St. Paul. On my list of Things St. Paul Does Better Than Minneapolis is:
1. Recycling/composting and it’s almost entirely because of them. Locally owned? Yep. Zero waste before it was cool? Yep. Also a vendor of post-consumer paper so you can close the loop? Yep, twice annually!
2. Pending. (Ha! St. Paul, I love you even if I hardly know you and even though you pronounce Maria as Mariah!)
It’s hard to say whether the logo/tagline were part of the initial success of the Block Party’s recycling efforts given the advantages already present, but I do think that it helped, if for no other reason than providing a visual and linguistic reminder that fit within 1) the Catholic vernacular, 2) the playfully “irreverent” Basilica Block Party marketing, and 3) the ubiquitous recycling movement symbolism.
At any rate, I’d like to clean this logo up at some point. I still like the basic idea but I’ve never been satisfied with the angularity of the arrowheads, the way the lines join to them, or the swoosh of the thickening line itself. I think there might be something to be explored in the negative space. I’d also enjoying playing with it in relation to the annual identity/narrative for the Basilica Block Party, or as within the context of the upcoming Papal Encyclical on Climate Change.
Lastly, and tangentially, I wish I could provide a better look back at the campaigns for the Basilica Block Party over the years. While I’ve never been a fan of the music (I don’t dislike it; it’s just that my musical tastes run more towards folk/indie, rap, and dissonance, and less to the easy listening side of things), I’ve frequently been a fan of the marketing and narrative voice, especially in the context of its intended audience.