Thinking creatively with waste

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By Kirsten Laskey

Once the juice from a bottle has been drunk or the final chip from the bag has been eaten, it seems like that plastic bottle or bag is no longer any good. Its use has been used up.

Not so, according to TerraCycle, a company in New Jersey that turns non-recyclable waste into affordable, eco-friendly products.

Furthermore, Chamisa Elementary School is among the 60,000 locations that supports TerraCycle’s claim.

The school participates in the company’s Capri Sun brigade, which collects the empty juice drink pouches and sends them to TerraCycle to be used as anything from backpacks to pencil pouches.

Cathy Cleland, a parent of Chamisa school students, said she learned about the endeavor after purchasing a box of Capri Sun and noticing that there was a message on the box about recycling with TerraCycle.

Cleland said she immediately thought it was a great idea since she is a “recycling freak.”

As a result, she introduced the program to her students’ school at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year. So far 8,000 Capri Sun pouches have been sent to TerraCycle.

The school does receive a little money for its involvement – 2 cents a pouch.

Although less than $100 has been raised, something even more valuable has been gained.

“I think it’s been a great program because it introduces (students) to recycling and teaches them that they can make a difference,” Cleland said.

Plus, she said when students throw their empty juice packets into the marked bin for TerraCycle, they can see how it fills up by the end of the week.

Its shows students that this waste could be dumped into the landfill but instead is reused. Therefore, the elementary grades realize that every little bit makes a big difference.

The juice pouch brigade is just one of several brigades TerraCycle offers. Amelia Nunn, account manager for TerraCycle, said there are 27 different brigades that range from Cadbury wrappers to Elmer’s Glue sticks.

“It’s a great program on several levels,” Nunn said, “It encourages students to care for their environment and think creatively about waste.”

She added TerraCycle products are available through Wal-Mart, which is featuring the company’s products through this month in recognition of Earth Day.

Any interested organizations can learn more or sign up for free at www.terracycle.net.