I cringe when I toss wrappers and non-recyclables into the trash. I know that they’ll end up in a landfill not far from my home (and stay there for potentially hundreds of years). I hate throwing away used shoes, or binders, or containers. I hate throwing away anything that seems like it still could have a purpose, somewhere for someone, even if it feels too difficult to figure out how to get it there as I’m standing over the dumpster.
Reducing the amount of waste we send to the nearest landfill is crucial, and let me count the reasons why. It prevents pollution, reduces the need for new raw materials, saves energy, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, to name a few (don’t even get me started on how much of an impact donating used clothes and shopping at GoodWill can have).
Still not convinced? How about this: recycling just 10 plastic bottles saves enough energy to power a laptop for 25.4 hours. And if we’re talking 10 aluminum cans? That’s over 50 hours of powering a laptop, or nearly 200 hours of light from a 60W CFL lightbulb. It’s not rocket science. The more energy we save, the fewer natural resources we need to be digging up and burning in order to make our screens bright.
This is where TerraCycle comes in.
TerraCycle was founded in 2001 as a way to process organic waste into fertilizer using worms. Their first practice run: Princeton University’s dining hall waste.
Over the years, their endeavors ranged from increased fertilizer production to recycling Target bags, to reusing Honest Kids pouches as pencil pouches and tote bags in what was known as the Drink Pouch Brigade. In 2012, the company developed a recycling program for cigarette butts–the world’s very first.
This company is the real deal: since its founding, it has been given “over 200 awards for social entrepreneurship and sustainable business”, including the UN Leader of Social Change Award. Over 63 million people in 20 countries have already helped collect, send in, and recycle waste.
So where do you come in?
TerraCycle offers over 30 different FREE recycling programs, where we can collect and send in things like Garnier product packaging, Malt-O-Meal cereal bags, D’Addario instrument strings, Clif Bar wrappers, Colgate packaging, pesky daily Biotrue contact lenses and containers, and even #6 plastic cups, like the Solo brand (yes, my college-goers, those party cups can be RECYCLED).
Convinced yet? It gets better.
Once you’re a member of a free recycling program, you can earn points for every shipment of recyclables you send in. These points can be redeemed for a donation to an organization of your choice! You can donate funds to alleviate disaster relief, to Feeding America, to the National Wildlife Federation to protect land, or to the D’Addario Music Foundation to offer children free music lessons. TerraCycle has already donated over $15 million to charity.
Were you looking for the next step to reduce your impact? Look no further.