Recycling and fundraising

April 1, 2014 

April is many things to many people. It is a time for budding plant life, baby chicks, planting a garden — a time when spring is in full bloom. It's a time to reflect on spiritual matters and our environment. This year Easter, Passover and Earth Day all fall between April 14 and 22.

As we celebrate Earth Day, we can ponder what we can do both personally and as a community to make our environment a cleaner place to live. Our group, Keep our Mountains Beautiful (KOMB), set goals for 2014 which include our May litter abatement event, and continued advocacy for expanded recycling opportunities in the mountain communities. As we were planning the year's activities, we stumbled upon a great discovery — a company named TerraCycle (terracycle.com).

Founded in 2001 by Tom Szaky, then a 20-year-old Princeton University freshman, TerraCycle began producing organic fertilizer by packaging and selling liquified "worm poop" in used soda bottles. Since then, TerraCycle has become one of the fastest-growing green companies in the world. The company describes itself as striving "to be a driving force behind increasing environmental awareness and action."

TerraCycle works with more than 100 major brands in the U.S. to collect used packaging and traditionally non-recyclable waste that would otherwise be destined for landfills. It repurposes that waste (that others deem as garbage) into new, innovative materials and products that are available for purchase online and through major retailers.

Some of these upcycled products: garden pots made from crushed computers, wall clocks made from reclaimed vinyl records, picture frames made from discarded circuit boards, and tote bags made from recycled Capri Sun drink containers. In 2012, TerraCycle diverted 2.5 billion pieces of waste from landfills and donated over $6 million to schools and charities.

Individuals and groups are encouraged to sign up and join a "Brigade." These Brigades collect items that range from food packaging (drink pouches and candy wrappers) to office supplies (pens and tape dispensers) to personal products (cosmetic, beauty products and diaper packaging).

There are specific Brigades for drink pouches, dairy tubs, writing instruments, snack bags, and more. When your waste is ready to be sent in, download a shipping label (shipping costs are free) from TerraCycle's website. Once received, your group will be credited with TerraCycle points that can be redeemed for charitable gifts or a payment of one cent per point, which can be two cents per waste unit, to the non-profit organization or school of your choice.

This is a golden opportunity for Mountain Area schools and charitable organizations. Do visit their website for more information.

Many schools will be participating in Earth Day events. You can encourage your child's teacher or club sponsors to look at TerraCycle's website for ways to be more environmentally aware and to learn about rewarding recycling projects.

Earth Day events are scheduled this month in Oakhurst and North Fork. Look for details in the Sierra Star.

Article written by Judy Linda-Horn and submitted by KOMB.

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