By Karen Neder
A little over 4 years ago, I went on-line to the Tom’s of Maine website to find out how to recycle my Tom’s of Maine product packaging and stumbled upon a recycling company called Terracycle that specializes in recycling hard-to-recycle waste. I spent the next 4 hours reading everything I could about the company and promptly signed up for every free recycling brigade that I could. Then I talked with the director of the preschool at my church, signed them up as a school fundraising recipient and started recycling otherwise not-recyclable items. Four years later, we have diverted more than 1800 lbs of waste from our local landfills and have raised over $1200.00 for scholarships for Blessed Beginnings Preschool at Trinity Lutheran Church in Moline through Terracycle.
So how does Terracycle work? For the free fundraising program, they offer Brigades that are sponsored by specific companies (e.g. Tom’s of Maine, Colgate, Brita, etc) that you join by going to their website, www.terracycle.com. Once you have joined a brigade, you start collecting items accepted by that brigade at your home, school, church or office. When you have enough to send off to be recycled, you simply download a free shipping label and send the waste to Terracycle. Depending upon how much waste you send, you receive points that are converted to cash for designated schools or non-profits. The list of items we accept at Trinity Lutheran is very specific because the companies that sponsor the free brigades only recycle the specific items that they produce, e.g. Larabar sponsors recycling of any brand of energy/granola bar wrappers and Malt-O-Meal sponsors the recycling of cereal bags. Sorting our items into their specific brigades for shipment is currently our biggest challenge! We have monthly ‘sorting parties’ and have enlisted some of our youth to help, as well.
Terracycle also sells what they call Zero-Waste boxes. (see link below). These are boxes that you can buy to recycle specific items that are not accepted in our city bins or through a free Terracycle brigade program. Personally, we have a large Plastic Packaging box at our home to recycle flexible plastic packaging and our church has purchased a large Coffee Bag zero-waste box for the coffee bag waste that we produce on a weekly basis. These boxes can be expensive but the cost includes the box itself, shipment of the box to and from your location (empty and full), and recycling of the product inside. Both of the above-mentioned boxes have lasted more than a year and have made us realize how much waste we produce and encouraged us to find alternative products that use less packaging.
So if you can’t Reduce it, Reuse it, Refuse it or Recycle it in your city bin, recycle it through Terracycle! Check out the list of things that we take at Trinity and be sure to call me or e-mail me if you have any questions!
Items to Save for TerraCycle
To benefit Blessed Beginnings Preschool, Trinity Lutheran Church, 1330 13th Street Moline, IL
From the Bathroom: (Any brand – no razors, please)
- Mouthwash bottles and caps (leave caps on, please)
- Deodorant containers and caps (caps on)
- Toothpaste tubes and caps (caps on)
- Soap packaging
- Floss containers
- Toothbrushes and outer packaging (including electric toothbrushes-no batteries)
- Hair care containers with lids on (NO AEROSOLS, please)
- Skin care containers with lids on
- Cosmetics containers
- ANY BURT’S BEES PRODUCTS AND PACKAGING
From the Office: (no crayons or wooden pencils, please)
- Pens, mechanical pencils, markers, highlighters, and permanent markers
- Glue sticks, glue bottles and refill bottles, any brand
From the Kitchen:
- Energy bar/granola bar/protein bar wrappers – any brand (please separate from snack bags listed below)
- Plastic cereal bags or plastic cereal bag liners (inside the cereal box)
- Snack bags – Family size/Individual/Multi-pack – any brand (not candy)
- Entenmann’s “Little Bites” plastic pouches (separate from snack bags, please)
- Cleaner Packaging – pumps/caps, pouches, flexible cleaner packaging and Arm&Hammer/Oxyclean pouches (includes baking soda pouches).
- Air Fresheners (e.g. Febreze) – All brands of air freshener cartridges and plugs, packaging, trigger heads and aerosol containers (please put smelly-leaky plugs in a ziplock bag)
- Juice Pouches (e.g. Capri Sun, Honest Kids, etc) Please put in airtight ziplock bag.
- GoGo Squeez or any healthy snack plastic pouches with caps on
- Any Brita or PUR or EVERPURE filtration device and its packaging (make sure filters are dry). Includes in-sink purifier parts and residential water filters as well as old pitchers and filters.
Please contact Karen Neder at (email@example.com) or 309-517-6972 if you have any questions. Sorting your recyclables is appreciated! Drop off at Trinity at the address above – 309-762-3624.