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Europe

Helsinki Hopes Celebrity Bins Will Encourage Clean Streets

Forget about the sports field. The Finnish capital of Helsinki is the new center of trash-talking.

Speaking trash can in berlin

In Berlin, too, citizens will always have someone to talk to

In a bid to curb littering, some creative types at Helsinki's city planning department have borrowed a page from the city of Berlin.

Starting August 22, Finland's capital will distribute trash cans that say "thank you" ( kiitos) or leave other messages in celebrity voices when they are fed trash, city project managers said.

A detector in the bin will activate a loudspeaker as soon as rubbish is put in. The conscientious user will hear the voice of a city leader or Finnish celebrity thanking them for their effort.

Previous use in Berlin

"It is great that you care about the city. Cool, isn't it?" says city mayor Jussi Pajunen in one message.

The project was drawn up by a company called Public Side as part of a broader campaign aimed at animating the capital.

"The idea is to make a thing that is considered lifeless alive," company project manager Janne Wrigstedt told AFP news service.

live-character Mickey Mouse

Mickey can always visit with Push

Talking trash cans have previously been used elsewhere, including the UK and, not surprisingly, Walt Disney World, in Orlando, Florida.

Push, the Disney Trash Can

Disney's Push the Trash Can character -- so named because of the big PUSH written on its sides -- is actually a robot, discreetly operated by a Disney employee. He or she uses a voice transmitter to make Push interact with people at the park.

In comparison to Push, the Berlin trash cans, which were installed back in 2005, were low key. They merely said " vielen dank" (many thanks) whenever an item was placed inside.

Random moves

In a thoughtful gesture, the cans were set to talk only during the day, to avoid scaring rubbish-discarders in the middle of the night.

As for the Helsinki trash-talking plan, four cans will be moved around the city randomly, at one week intervals, for a month.

The only requirements for taking part in the experiement are a sense of civic duty, and a passing acquaintance with Finno-Ugric languages.

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