Money & Power

Free Chocolate, Yoga Classes in Amsterdam Using Plastic Coins as Cash

To get these coins, residents of Noord play a part in recycling plastic waste.
IMAGE Wikimedia Commons
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Flashback to when we were little children playing with plastic currency and pretending it was cash.

Our younger selves would be pleased to know that one neighborhood in Amsterdam is using little plastic green coins to encourage the recycling of millions of tons of plastic waste. These coins are as good as gold, accepted as currency by several local businesses as payment. Coins can be traded in for freebies or discounts from over 30 local businesses, including yoga lessons, free chocolate, and buy-one-take-one deals on coffee.

Why green coins?

An upcycling laboratory called Wasted is giving away these green plastic coins to encourage the community to collect plastic from the streets, landfills, and various bodies of water. It recycles this plastic to make objects of use for the community.

Studies have found that humans discard between 5.3 million to 14 million tons of plastic into the ocean.


How does it work?

The green coins fuel a reward system that allows the community to participate and benefit. Citizens of Noord may opt to receive special garbage bags for plastic. After filling the bags, they leave them outside of their homes for pickup. In a few days, the house receives special green coins courtesy of Wasted.

What happens to all the plastic?

Since 2016, Wasted has worked in collaboration with the local government to transform the plastic into public infrastructure objects such as benches, tables, furniture, and playground structures. As of this writing, Wasted has collected 15,221 kilograms or 12,684 bags of plastic. A portion of the waste is transformed into colorful building blocks.

While the project is still in its infancy and remains within Noord, 700 households have already signed up. Since its inception in 2015, Wasted has collected an estimated 16.5 tons of plastic. The Guardian reports that a survey found that 52 percent of respondents have changed their attitude toward waste disposal habits and 23 percent have reduced their plastic consumption.

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Imagine what more this project could achieve if Wasted expanded outside of the district of Noord.

h/t: Upworthy, World Economic Forum

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About The Author
Hannah Lazatin
Senior Staff Writer
Hannah is a communications graduate from Ateneo de Manila University. She’s originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
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