Submit photos to #govbins

Four steps to help catalogue a nation’s bins

#govbins is a project to photograph wheelie bins in every UK local council.

It started sort of by accident when I noticed that bin designs varied in different areas. It’s a bit niche; each photo is like a postcard to myself. But it’s been nice and surprising when it’s got some attention (and some excellent puns) from places like The Guardian, The Atlantic and Creative Review.

This quest has ‘bin’ going for over three years. I have taken all the photos myself — travelling to 196 local councils across the country in the process.

But now, for a few reasons, I have decided to open up #govbins and encourage others to help catalogue them all. This feels like a good time to do this — we’re in lockdown. Travel is restricted. Plus it will save carbon from me not bumbling around the county and taking all the photos myself.

It’s hard to give up some control of #govbins, as it's been my baby over the last few years (as my long-suffering family, friends and colleagues will testify to). Yet I am really excited to get more people involved and see all the weird and wonderful bin designs where you live.

So, if you’d like to submit to #govbins, here’s how.

Step 1: check what #govbins are missing 🗺️

Check whether your bin has already been catalogued. You can use this map to find out. Hopefully, it’s still missing!

Find your local council if you’re not sure which one is yours.

Step 2: take consistent photos 📷

It’s important that #govbins photos are taken consistently. Consistent photos make it easier to see the difference between the councils’ designs, as this short video shows:

To demonstrate what makes a good, consistent photo, here’s an example. This is a bin from the fictional borough Walford, sent to me in June 2018 by the Eastenders production team (thanks pals!)

Make sure your photo is flat

Get nice and straight to the bin. I always try to line up my camera parallel to the bin, with the top of the bin above the logo.

Taking a flat image is helped by crouching down if you can, as I have on the side on this motorway.

Take your photo with plenty of space around

Have enough space around the bin for the image to be cropped. Don’t worry about cropping them, I can do that once you’ve sent them over.

Take your photo landscape

All #govbins photos have a 4:3 ratio. This is easier to do if photos are taken landscape.

Take lots of photos and pick the best ones

It really helps to take many photos of the same bin. I change the angle and position a little each time. That way, there will be plenty of pictures to pick from. The best are the flattest and most croppable images.

Step 3: send your photos 📮

Please email your best images to: harryroberttrimble AT gmail.com.

When sending photos, include:

  • Local council name
  • Your name (optional, so I can credit you)
  • Your Twitter or Instagram username (optional, again so I can credit you)

Step 4: take credit 💅

All missing #govbins images taken using the steps above will get posted on both govbins.uk and the #govbins Instagram account.

Your name and Twitter or Instagram username will be tagged to posts, but only if you decide to give them, of course.

That’s it! I look forward to seeing your images.

If you have any questions or feedback, message me on Twitter or send me an email: harryroberttrimble AT gmail.com.

Head of Design, Made Tech, previously Red Cross, GDS, NHS