Honorable mention: UCan
In households that recycle, nearly all the plastic, metal and paper come straight out of the kitchen. But what about all the recyclable material from bathrooms and bedrooms?
"I feel that for recycling to be more widely adopted, it must be made as effortless as possible," says Justin Atwater-Taylor, a senior at the University of Kansas.
"I narrowed the problem down to the household bathroom because there is so much recyclable packaging sent from there to the landfill, even in households that recycle, because of convenience and sanitation issues."
Atwater-Taylor designed UCan, which divides trash from recyclables, to ship flat (the user assembles it) and to sell with no exterior packaging.
UCan itself is made of recycled materials, too. If you're wondering whether you can reduce your ecological impact without going too far out of your way, this clever receptacle has the answer: Yes, you can.