Take your trash to the libraryOne person's trash is another persons purse. The Hammond Public Library is collecting waste items to be turned into useful items, and earning a little money for the library through TerraCycle.
By: Gretta Stark, New Richmond News
When some Hammond residents are finished drinking their Capri Sun or eating a bag of tortilla chips, they don’t throw the trash away. Instead, they bring it to the Hammond Public Library and put it in one of several blue tubs near the entrance.
The Hammond Public Library is working with TerraCycle, a company that collects trash and turns it into useful items, like purses, tote bags, pencil cases, recycling bins and much more. People collect specific trash items, like Capri Sun pouches and tortilla chip bags, and send them to TerraCycle headquarters. There they are turned into those useful items.
Hammond Library director Michelle Johnson said the program earns money for the library as well.
“It’s a way that people can be earth-friendly and help the library in one fell swoop,” Johnson said.
According to their website, TerraCycle was founded in 2001 by Tom Szaky, who was a freshman at Princeton University. The company started selling fertilizer in used pop bottles but branched out from there to re-use or “repurpose” items in other ways. Now TerraCycle creates more than 1,500 products that are sold at different retailers across the country and online.
Individuals, groups and businesses can sign up for “brigades” or programs that recycle specific types of waste. According to the website, the company recycles many products that were not previously considered recyclable. The Hammond Library collects items for 36 brigades, including MOM Brands Cereal, Kashi Packages, Scott brand, Huggies brand, Scotch Tape brand, candy wrappers, and of course the chip packages and drink pouches.
Johnson said she feels this type of recycling is important for the protection of the environment.
“I really like the idea that we would not have to put things in landfills,” Johnson said. “And that we actually had a place that was starting to repurpose our materials, our wrappers and other things, into new items that we could use.”
The other reason Johnson said she brought TerraCycling to the Hammond Public Library is because it was so easy to do.
“We could incorporate it into the library with very little effort,” Johnson said. And, she added, the library gets 2 cents for every unit of waste they collect for TerraCycle.
“It’s not a huge fundraiser,” Johnson said, “but it does start to add up after a while.”
Johnson said she first discovered TerraCycling when she read an article about Szaky in a magazine. She looked it up on the Internet when she got to work and brought TerraCycling to the library shortly thereafter.
Johson said that while the library will collect for all 36 brigades it belongs to, people have yet to bring in items for some of the brigades, such as the MP3 player, digital camera, inkjet, cell phone and keyboard and mouse brigades.
The Hammond Library collects these items, Johnson said, in a series of labeled blue bins by the entryway. When the bins get full, Johnson said she puts the items into a box or envelop, prints a label and mails them off the TerraCycle headquarters.
“It’s easy to use,” Johnson said. “It takes very little effort on our part. Maybe once every other month we need to print off the mailing label and get it ready to be shipped to them.”
The Hammond Library has been TerraCycling for about two years, but Johnson said she likes to remind people of that every so often, especially the items people don’t necessarily realize they could be TerraCycling at the library.
“This is an ongoing program throughout the year,” Johnson said. Johnson will be creating brochures that give the full list of brigades the Hammond Public Library is a part of for people to take home with them and put up on their refrigerators.
For more information on TerraCycling visit www.terracycle.com.