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From trash to treasure: Tempe finds good use for dumpsters

Tempe’s Public Works Department tests out the bench on the new mobile pop-up patio they created (City of Tempe)

Trash dumpsters are getting new life in the city of Tempe.

The city’s public works department has decided to repurpose a few dumpsters and turn them into mobile pop-up patios. These public spaces are part park bench and part garden.

“They have full-size trees in them, they have cactus and some flowers,” said Kris Baxter-Ging, spokeswoman for the city of Tempe. “One of them has a solar phone charging station.”

The park-like benches have room for several people to sit and relax. Baxter-Ging said the project comes at no cost to the community. She said it is a creative way to get the community talking while also being sustainable.

“We want to reuse, we want to repurpose, we want to recycle whenever we possibly can, and this is a really creative way of using something that wasn’t going to be used,” said Baxter-Ging.

Tempe’s public works department has repurposed three dumpsters so far, and Baxter-Ging said more may pop up in the future. Right now, pop-up patios are sitting in a vacant lot near 7th Street and Mill Avenue in Downtown Tempe, but Baxter-Ging said those patios will be moved frequently. Tempe is one of only a few cities in the United States turning dumpsters into public spaces.

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