Vote with your butt: Ballot Bins appear in Leith

'Ballot Bins' in Leith. Source: Pau Llosa

In the wake of President-elect Donald Trump’s victory in the US, City of Edinburgh Council have installed light-hearted ‘Ballot Bins’ along Leith Walk.

The bins allow the people of Edinburgh to vote with their cigarette butts and settle the question: ‘President Donald Trump: ‘Dream’ or ‘Nightmare’?’

These bins are part of an initiative that wants to set up more Ballot Bins in the Leith Walk area later this month. It is hoped that the campaign will ease strain on the area’s communal bins, identified as ‘hotspots’ for overflowing and fly-tipping.

'Ballot Bins' in Leith. Source: Pau Llosa
‘Ballot Bins’ in Leith. Source: Pau Llosa

The initiative, which encourages people to bin by asking them colourful and topical questions, is not a new idea.

“Our Edinburgh” triggered the Ballot Bins project earlier this summer, in an initiative to address littering and other anti-social behaviour. The drive is now in its second phase and the bins are said to appear all over the Leith Walk area.

Lesley Hinds, Environment Convener Councillor, said:

“We want to ensure our streets are as clean and welcoming as possible for both visitors and residents, and we need the public to help us do this by binning their own litter.

“Innovative solutions like the ballot bins are a great way of encouraging people to do this, and they have already proved to be a great success in the Grassmarket.

“The first phase of Ballot Bins in the City Centre has been effective in engaging the public through popular and topical questions on matters like the new Trainspotting film. We plan to continue this kind of interaction with the Leith Walk Ballot Bin questions.”


Source: Pau Llosa
Source: Pau Llosa

Conservative Councillor for the City Centre, Joanna Mowat, has also praised the initiative. She said:

“Given that the election of Donald Trump is the biggest current news item, using this sentence seems to fit the brief.

“We are a country which cherishes freedom of speech and healthy debate is part of this. When we start shying away from potentially controversial subjects we are one step closer to allowing rule by tyranny. My only concern is that given the general opprobrium around Donald Trump, we might encourage people to take up smoking so they can make their view on him known”.

Members of the public expressed their hopes that the bins would encourage smokers to dispose of cigarettes properly.

Tony Merchal, 49, said: “It looks like ‘nightmare’ is more popular, we will see what happens. But it is a good idea, better than throwing them out on the floor.”

Talha Sadale, 19, echoed his thoughts.

“I don’t see why it is relevant but I think putting cigarettes in bins is a good idea. I think it is a creative way to promote it.”

It’s especially good news for members of Edinburgh’s street cleaning team. A 48 year old refuge collector, who preferred to remain anonymous, welcomed the news.

“This is also good news. He said: “This save me a lot of time. I think it is promoting enough. It takes cigarettes off from the floor”.

However, not everyone in Edinburgh seems to agree with the ballot bins. For instance, McGarry, 60, disapproved of the method of questioning.

“I don’t think why it is an issue. I think this is not a nightmare. I can’t understand why they use nightmare, it is a strong word. America has made a democratic decision, and America is a democratic country”.