Your Trash Is Westford Schools Treasure

reposted from my ‘Greene Westford’ column

Have you heard about Upcycle It!?  Sustainable Westford‘s innovative program collects non-recyclables such as chip bags, granola bar wrappers, cookie wrappers and more to keep them out of the waste stream.
These items are sent to a company called TerraCycle. TerraCycle donates two cents per item and pays for shipping.  These items are then upcycled into new products such as backpacks, tote bags, and flower pots.

In only one year, $2314.38 has been raised and over 100,000 pieces of trash totaling almost 1300 lbs have been saved from the waste stream.  This money is being donated to the Westford Public Schools via a grant program.

These items are being collected all over town – in classrooms, school cafeterias, the J.V. Fletcher LibraryRoudenbush Community Center and theWestford Farmers Market.
What To Collect
It matters more what was in the bag or wrapper than the type of material it is made out of.  Sponsors, like  Frito-Lay for chips and Starbucks for coffee bags, pay the two cents and shipping costs so they are willing to pay for their industry’s waste.  
Think this way – if you can buy it in the “Chip” aisle of the grocery store, it’s considered a chip bag.    Even though a crouton or frozen food bag may seem like similar material, it does not qualify.
The program accepts wrappers or packaging that once held these items.
  1. Drink Pouches: Any branch of foil drink pouch such as Capri Sun and its straw. Please empty the pouch of all juice and place in a separate bag. No juice boxes.
  2. Elmer’s Glue: Glue bottle, stick or pen.
  3. Energy Bar Wrappers:  Any brand of energy, granola, cereal or protein bar wrapper.
  4. Chip Bags: Any brand, any size chip bag.
  5. Cookie Wrapper: Any brand of cookie wrapper.
  6. Candy Wrapper:  Any brand of candy wrapper or bag.
  7. Colgate: Any brand of toothbrush or plastic toothpaste tube.  Place toothbrushes in separate bag.
  8. Coffee Bags: Any brand of foil coffee bag. No cans.  updated July 2011, TerraCycle no longer accepts coffee bags
  9. Writing Instruments:  Any kind of pen, mechanical pencil, marker, or highlighter.
Volunteers must sort through all of the items by hand separating them into the categories collected. Familiarizing yourself with the do’s and don’ts really helps.
The overwhelming support from Westford residents, students, parents, Girl Scout troops, teachers, and businesses has been amazing. Let’s keep it going Westford! 

2 Responses to Your Trash Is Westford Schools Treasure

  1. May 24, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    You have done such an amazing job with your recycling efforts in Westford. Raising over $2,000 in a year, given the small amount earned on each item returned, is so impressive. Keep up the good work!

  2. The Greening Of Westford May 25, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    Thanks! It is pretty impressive. Although I have to say, that it has really opened my eyes to the amount of packaging out there! Our town has a little over 20,000 people in it. My guess is that 500 or so max are contributing. can you imagine this amount multiplied by the whole country! One step at a time!

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