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A few years ago, New York City took a fair step forward into the Green Age with these trashcans that today, are probably no less common than a taxi or a street lamp. While a few conventional trashcans (as in, ones that don’t run on solar power and automatically compact their trash as the day goes on) remain scattered around the city, these Bigbelly solar trashcans are everywhere. To date, the company has placed hundreds in New York and plenty more in cities nationwide. Able to hold five times the capacity of any run-of-the-mill trashcan, they’ve helped clear thousands of pounds of trash produced by the city each day.
As if that weren’t enough, some of these Bigbelly trash cans are functioning as free wi-fi hotspots. Bigbelly Solar, the company behind the trashcans, has teamed up with NYC’s Downtown Alliance to repurpose the trashcan’s existing wireless link to include wi-fi capabilities.

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The trashcans are already built with an internet link that is able to notify the city when their capacity is nearing full. In the words of Leila Dillon, Bigbelly Solar’s Vice President of global marketing, “We are incredibly unique in that we are this incredible tech platform sitting on some of the most precious real estate in the world. So we started thinking what else can we do? And that’s where the Wi-Fi came in.”
Safe to say, it’s worked out pretty well. Bigbelly reported to PSFK that a lot of New Yorkers are using the trashcan wi-fi, probably without even knowing it. The plan is currently to install more trashcans and similarly increase their wireless capabilities. Because ingenuity like that is valued in a city where problems of water supply, trash buildup, and internet connection are rendered exponentially larger due to the concentration population, we accept this trashy Wi-Fi with open arms.
Next, read about some dirtier times when the great Garbage Strike hit NYC in 1968. Get in touch with the author @jinwoochong.