MEET THE FOUNDER
RE.BIN was founded by Whitney Ferrell, an Environmental Lawyer who lives between New York City and Miami.
Whitney founded RE.BIN after three years of practicing Environmental Law with the Environmental Integrity Project, a public interest law firm in Washington D.C. RE.BIN is a culmination of Whitney’s two passions: the environment and her love of design.
Whitney holds a B.A. in Art History from the University of Virginia, a J.D. from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and an LL.M. in Environmental and Natural Resources Law from Lewis & Clark Law School. She is admitted to the State Bars of Florida, Colorado, and the District of Columbia.
WHY DID YOU START RE.BIN?
RE.BIN really began from a realization I had in 2011 - that the main reason people across the United States don’t recycle is because it’s not convenient.
At the time, I was living in Portland, Oregon studying to receive my Masters of Law in Environmental Law at Lewis & Clark. In Portland, recycling is a way of life – nobody thinks about it, they just do it. I remember being at a coffee shop my first week there and taking the wrapper off my straw as the barista asked, “can I recycle that for you?” After almost a year in Portland, recycling was like a religion for me.
I started traveling the country for job interviews and realized recycling in other cities wasn’t always so easy. I would carry around empty water bottles in my purse for an entire day before stumbling upon a recycling bin. I wanted to make recycling easier for people and thought the best place to start was inside the home and office.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE FINAL PRODUCT DESIGN?
I wanted to design a product that fit seamlessly into our busy modern lifestyle by making recycling as easy as possible. I looked at how I recycled, and how my friends and family recycled. Because many of us already used paper grocery bags for our recycling, I focused on designing a bin to fit that bag.
Most importantly, the design had to be sustainable. I refused to make a product that would create more waste, so I decided to create RE.BIN from 100% recycled plastic that is also recyclable. It was also important to me to manufacture the product here in the United States to assure compliance with U.S. environmental standards and to minimize the carbon footprint.
I wanted a modern aesthetic that would not only communicate the bin’s functionality, but that would also say – look, recycling can be beautiful; being an environmentalist can be beautiful.
HOW HAVE YOUR PAST EXPERIENCES TURNED RE.BIN FROM AN IDEA INTO THE PRODUCT THAT IT IS TODAY?
My mother is an interior designer and the former President of the Miami Art Museum (MAM). Growing up, I spent hours flipping through art books in the MAM gift shop, visiting galleries and museums, and sitting in her office comparing fabric samples and paint colors. These early experiences sparked my love and appreciation of art and design.
While practicing Environmental Law, I witnessed first-hand the environmental impacts of every action we take. I knew I could make a difference by combining my environmental advocacy experience and my design background to create products that made it easier for people to make a difference in the world on a daily basis.
WHEN IT COMES TO RECYCLING, WHO DOES IT BETTER - EAST COAST OR WEST COAST?
As a native Eastcoaster, I wish I could say the East Coast, but the award definitely goes to the West Coast. The reason I say that is simple - West Coast cities have more recycling bins in public areas, which makes recycling easier.
In downtown Portland, it seems like there is one recycling bin for every trash can. In New York, you can walk a mile before finding one. It’s basic human nature. If there’s a recycling bin in front of you, you’ll recycle your water bottle; if there isn’t, you’ll throw it away.
WHEN YOU'RE NOT WORKING ON RE.BIN, WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR FUN?
I’m usually spending time with close friends and family, or relaxing at home with my dog, Mocha. When I can get away from the city, there’s nothing better than a long hike to hit the reset button. I try to fit yoga into my schedule on a regular basis to stay balanced. I also love to snowboard and play tennis any chance I get.