Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Recycle or Upcycle?

Yesterday I bought a bag of M&Ms. I know that sounds exciting, right? Well, when I got home, I noticed that on the back of the bag there was an infinity sign and the name Terracycle.  Next to that it says, "Mars is turning used candy wrappers into eco-friendly products," and gives the website terracycle.net. I proceeded and checked out the website.

I first watched this pretty awesome video about garbage or at least I thought it was a pretty awesome video.

What Terracycle does is have schools (elementary to university) collect non-recyclable items and send them in to Terracycle. These non-recyclables are then made into usable products, like backpacks, pencil pouches, bags, stuff for your pets and gardens, etc.

It all started in 2001, by Tom Szaky, a Princeton University freshman. He first started it as an organic feritilzer company and it's grown to what it is today. He wanted to create a way of doing business that is good for the environment, good for the people and is good for the triple bottom line. Terracycle has won many awards for its environment business model. A few awards won were from Home Depot, The Environmental Business Journal, and Zerofootprint.

To join in on this fun, you can join a brigade, which is a specific collection of waste stream. Each brigade is different in what they collect. There are brigades that collect candy wrappers by Mars and Cadbury, collect chip wrappers, yogurt cups, plastic cereal bags, and lots more. Once the minimum of 500 items is collected, you send it in and Terracycle will donate $0.02 per item to a charity or non-profit organization of your choice, or if it's your school collecting, you get to keep it. The companies that are supporting the brigades, pay for shipping.

Interesting fact: In July, they changed the minimum items sent in from 100 to 500 to help cut done even more on people's environmental impact. So instead of having 10 shipments of 100 waste items, there's only 2 shipments of 500.
There are about 30 different brigades. They range from candy and chip wrappers to Scotch tape dispensers to the plastic paper towels come in to corks and the plastic bag of diapers. Like I said before, after the collection, these non-recyclable products are made into new ones. These products will be available to buy in stores like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Target, and K-mart (in selected cities). We won't see them for a while because Terracycle has to build up their inventory. Currently, they have made 186 items out of waste and have collected 1,853,931,933 pieces of waste.

This is a great idea to recycle those items that are non-recyclable. They arecreated into something usable and trendy. I think that we should do this here at WWU to help reduce our garbage even more. It's so easy to get involved and there are so many brigades to choose from.

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Do you use reusable bags when you go grocery shopping?