Savvy recycling initiative: Gathering unwanted items that can be upcycled into something useful

For instance, if you head to the Terra Cycle you will see that they are always actively seeking to develop “brigades”. These are groups that commit to collecting very specific materials such as candy wrappers, drink pouches, or soda bottles. The group that collects and submits the materials will get paid for each item (usually around two cents each) and will even be able to enjoy free shipping on each package they submit.

[image-1] This means that a classroom, school, or neighborhood might get together to “harvest” every juice pouch used by the kids. These are quickly rinsed, flattened and submitted to the upcycling group, and then a check  or contribution is made in return for their efforts. It is a win-win scenario and comes with plenty of rewards apart from the money.


People are-goal oriented and tend to love rewards for their efforts. This is a fact to remember when you are trying to start a recycling plan in your school or community. Why? Because there are actually many opportunities in community recycling that come with financial rewards. The thing to remember is that it also will require organization, effort, and a lot of time to make any recycling program “pay off”.

One of the simplest ways to get people involved in any sort of recycling program is to make it interesting and easy for them to do. This means selecting materials for recycling that are readily available and don’t require a lot of “dirty work” to gather together. Remember, people don’t like bags of smelly cans or bottles sitting around their garage, and choosing something that can be accumulated without odor, insects, or lots of washing is usually the ideal choice.

So, what is it? Well, it involves participation in an activity known as “upcycling” but it is a highly educational and beneficial thing to know about. Upcycling takes materials normally slated for the landfill and converts them into usable consumer goods. These goods might be unusual handbags or they might be fertilizers made from soda bottles, but they all repurpose garbage and reward contributors.

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