Indiana University student helps recycling co-op find its voice

Student designer works with local recycling co-op to develop a strong brand and increase community engagement


Carl Nelson


Jacob Simpson, Marshall Curry


Orange County Recycling Co-Op, Paoli IN
Community Size
19,646 (2019 Census Estimation)
Indiana University
Sustaining Hoosier Communities
Case Type
Project Stories
EPA Region 5, USA
Sustainable Development Goals
12 Responsible Consumption and Production

Orange County is a rural southern Indiana county comprising four incorporated towns and a number of unincorporated communities. Residents are intent on celebrating the county’s industrial roots, natural beauty, and historic architecture while embracing and preparing for the future. Local progress is driven in large part by “grassroots cooperative leadership” (Report, Pg. 4), while legal and medical non-profits provide essential communal services. This community-oriented mentality lends itself to innovative partnerships between various actors working towards common goals in areas like infrastructure, culture, tourism, and healthcare. 

Local recycling co-op aims to expand its reach, promote sustainability

The cooperatively owned Orange County Recycling Co-Op operates a re-use store and a recycling program for local families and businesses. As the only recycling service of its kind in the county, the organization plays a vital role in facilitating sustainable community habits. In addition to collecting, sorting, and processing recyclable waste, it also aims to combat climate change through community education (Mission Statement). As an active presence in Orange County, the Co-Op wished to develop its brand in order to effectively promote its message and increase community participation. 

The co-op heads to the drawing board with the help of a student designer

Seeking to build a resilient brand, the Orange County Recycling Co-Op partnered with the Sustaining Hoosier Communities (SHC) program at Indiana University. This unique project was one of two involving a single student participant on the university side, a graphic designer supervised by Professor Jenny El-Shamy in the School of Art, Architecture, and Design. The student designer worked with Co-Op community partner Tim Schmidt, who provided feedback throughout the process. Together they worked to define and express the Co-Op’s brand and visual identity. 

A strong brand for an indispensable service

Through this collaborative project, the Orange County Recycling Co-Op was able to build a brand capable of clearly representing its mission and engaging the community in its recycling program. Guided by a strong voice, the partnership empowered the Co-Op to expand its reach as a community educator and service provider. On the university side, the student designer learned from the experience of working closely with a real-world client. 

A thoughtful brand is key to a great first impression. With its fresh face and steadfast values, the Orange County Recycling Co-Op can continue to build lasting relationships with the community. Longterm, increased co-op participation has the potential to divert local recyclable waste away from landfills.

Sustaining Hoosier Communities Contact Info
Jane Rogan
Sustaining Hoosier Communities Director
(812) 855-0568

Indiana University Faculty Contact Info
Jenny El-Shamy

Read the full story of the partnership.

Read the final student report delivered to the local gov/community partner.

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