By GREGORY ZELLER //
Like millions of other suburban homeowners, Julia-Ann Bodine has had it up to here with raccoons.
Specifically, she’s fed up with the mess, sanitation issues and other headaches created every time the masked rodents party down in an outdoor garbage can. Like many of those millions of other frustrated humans, Bodine’s tried most commercially available solutions – deodorant sprays, stick-on fresheners and a host of pest repellents – and found them largely underwhelming.
Unlike most others, she decided to do something about it.
The Seaford housewife and mother of two grown children attacked the problem like a scientist, despite no engineering training and no previous inclination toward invention. She eliminated the things that didn’t work and tested potential solutions for feasibility and effectiveness, and ultimately came up with the Twice As Nice Repellent and Deodorizer System, an odor-reducing add-on that promises to make any trash receptacle raccoon-resistant.
The securely-fastened, multi-part containment system offers several advantages over spray deodorants – which wash away in the rain and don’t last very long anyway, Bodine noted – and stick-on fresheners that tend not to stick around, often vanishing during weekly trash collections.
“They were a waste of my time and my money,” Bodine told Innovate LI. “I said, ‘Someone has got to find a better way, where the repellent or deodorizer doesn’t get thrown out.’ And that’s when I came up with this.”
“This” is two refillable compartments, one on the exterior of a receptacle lid, one on the interior. The housing units are securely attached with screws, nuts and bolts – “It’s very simple for the consumer to attach,” Bodine noted – and hold both a repellent to drive away pests and a deodorizer to downplay trashy odors.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Bodine’s design a utility patent in February 2014, giving the first-time inventor exclusive domain over what she dubbed “the first dual, refillable system designed to hold a repellent and a deodorizer at the same time.”
The Twice As Nice can be applied to indoor or outdoor garbage cans, commercial containers like dumpsters or “any other existing container,” according to the inventor, and can even be manufactured directly into trashcans and lids.
Right now however, it’s not being manufactured at all. While Bodine has patented her designs, she’s still looking for partners to supply the deodorizers and repellents, not to mention a large-scale manufacturer interested in a potential licensing arrangement.
“What I have is the system,” Bodine noted. “I’m looking for someone who can actually help with the rest.”
Once she finds those partners, the inventor has no doubts about the Twice As Nice’s commercial potential. Bodine foresees huge interest from commercial customers – everyone from preschools and hospitals to parks and restaurants – and of course homeowners who, like her, are tired of cleaning up after Rocky makes his nightly mess.
“It’s disgusting and can get embarrassing, with all of your neighbors knowing what’s in your trash,” the inventor noted. “This will work with any receptacle where foul odors attract small and large pests that are hazardous to our health and the environment.”
But finding the right partners has proven difficult. Bodine, a member of the Nassau County Inventors & Entrepreneurs Club, has presented the Twice As Nice at club meetings and met with a positive response from people who’d like to buy the thing, but is yet to find someone who can help her manufacture it, beyond two existing prototypes.
The first prototype was produced by a Long Island maker; a second, slightly smaller version that was produced off-Island attached to the receptacles more securely and became the design of choice, according to Bodine, who’s busy “making telephone calls and doing my research.”
“I’m calling repellent and deodorant companies,” she said. “I reached out to Rubbermaid. But it’s very difficult to get through to them – they’re not seeing the concept of this invention.”
Bodine is hoping to find repellent and deodorizer producers first, followed by someone who can mass-produce the Twice As Nice compartments. She said a durable material like plastic or rubber would work best against “any corrosive effect of the repellent or deodorizer, as well as the environmental conditions,” while ecologically friendly repellents and deodorizers would suit her best.
If she can’t find someone to license her invention, Bodine may consider financing a small production run herself, perhaps through Kickstarter or by appealing directly to angel investors. However the Twice As Nice system is finally produced, though, there’s no doubting its market potential, she said.
“A lot of people like the invention and want to know where they can purchase it,” the inventor noted. “I just need to get my foot in the door with one of these companies and get them to recognize the extreme need for a product like this, and also see the income potential.
“This device is refillable, and that’s what makes it unique,” Bodine added. “That’s where the money will be made, with the deodorizers and repellents. If this falls into the right hands, the potential is phenomenal.”