Recycle Or The Puppy Gets It

I love it when a client says, “do something really different…something that will stop people in their tracks.”

A few months ago, my clients at Idaho Power Company came to me with such a request. They wanted to replace their old “Please Use Proper Trash and Recycle Receptacles” sign with something new. Their park visitors were throwing trash in the wrong bins and spoiling the recycling.

These days, we are so overwhelmed with signs and messages, it’s hard to get people to stop, read, and pay attention to anything—especially a Rules Sign. Plus, many Americans seem to feel the Land of the Free means “Free to Do Anything I Want.”

So, my client and I decided to try a different tack—something that would appeal to peoples’ better natures. Animals.

After all, we all love animals, right? How could you ignore this?









I painted watercolors of wildlife and scanned and placed them (in Photoshop) roaming all over the classic recycle symbol.

The Message: These are the animals that really need you to recycle. They depend on a clean, healthy environment. They need you to follow the rules.

Here’s the finished sign:


Sign designed and illustrated for my Idaho Power Project


So, how successful is the sign at changing behavior? Have people stopped throwing trash in the wrong bins?

The result is still less than 100% compliance. And, unfortunately, since it only takes a few bad apples to ruin the recycling, well… there you go.


It’s so frustratingly true:

People. Don’t. Like. Rules.


I wonder though….do they like puppies and kittens?

I may have an idea.


6 thoughts on “Recycle Or The Puppy Gets It

  1. That was a hoot ! And a real attention-getter. The trick in using it these days would be to create a graphic that was more politically correct than the pistol – maybe a muddy puppy being held over a pan of sudsy bath water.
    Thank you for the laugh in dealing with a serious issue.

    • You are SO right! Why didn’t I think of that – it would be perfect! Maybe I’ll try it next time. Do you hire out as creative consultant?

    • HAHAHAH! THAT’S where it comes from! I was racking my brain yesterday and doing google searches to find “vintage ad gun to puppy head”. I couldn’t remember…but I knew I’d seen it somewhere back in the day. National Lampoon. Ah…those were the days. Thank you for solving the mystery!

    • Yes, I’m a dog person, too. I once heard of a natural history museum that had two entrances to an exhibit room on wildlife. One entrance was labeled “Dog People”, and the other was labeled “Cat People”. Each door led you into a different section of animal exhibits. I would have gone through the dog door, for sure.

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