Despite what you may be imagining, this isn’t another cookie-cutter article about the importance of dropping glass bottles, metal cans, plastic containers and old newspapers into your curbside collection bins – good ol' recycling. It’s awesome that you do that week after week – and mother nature is definitely smiling ear to ear – but considering the bloated state of our landfills, we’ve all got to do even more to reduce the amount of waste that we produce.
Pretty much everything that passes through our hands can be repurposed and recreated with the right vision and (in some cases) technology. Not just old textiles and rubber tires, either. For starters, chicken feathers can now be transformed into biodegradable plastic, human excrement into an edible meat alternative (yup, you read that right) and lobster shells into earth-friendly golf balls, which suggests that it’s entirely possible for us to reinvent every post-consumer item that we’re normally inclined to kick to the curb.
Before we get ahead of ourselves though, let’s take a minute or two to appreciate the admirable efforts of the following non-profit organizations. Why? Simply because they’ve created some rather nifty recycling programs for items that aren’t typically even on our radars. What they’re doing is definitely inspiring enough to make you rethink what you chuck into your garbage can.
Ever wonder what happens to the miniaturized bars of soap and body care products that remain once you’ve officially checked out of a hotel? That’s precisely what Paul Till and Shawn Seipler contemplated before learning that across the country – and around the world – they’re given the heave-ho. What a waste, they thought, in light of the fact that individuals in third world nations consistently succumb to easily preventable hygiene-related ailments simply because they don’t have access to one key bacteria-busting ingredient – soap. That’s when they decided to make a real difference. Clean The World was founded with the sole purpose of enabling the hospitality industry to responsibly recycle body care products (they actually sanitize soap bars) so they can then be donated to nationwide homeless shelters and impoverished countries with high rates of disease. Thanks to their vision, well over 380 tons of body care products – that’s the equivalent of 4+ million individual bars of soap and 200,000 pounds of miniature shampoo and conditioner bottles – have been diverted from landfills.
There’s one toy that every single one of us grew up with and since it’s so readily available, we take it for granted. A ball. Amazingly, children in economically depressed regions rarely get the opportunity to play with a conventionally manufactured one. Instead, they fashion a somewhat decent replica out of a bag stuffed with garbage, old clothing bound with rope or a wad of tightly wrapped banana leaves, but it’s really not the same and certainly doesn't bounce as it could. In light of this issue, World Vision has, for years, enabled lucky kiddies to kick their first official ‘real’ soccer ball courtesy of their “Get a Kick Out of Sharing” initiative and the generous donations of people like you.
The USDA admits that despite the sweeping food insecurity in our nation, 100 billion pounds of food (or one pound per person daily) is discarded every year in America due to various issues including poor storage, insect infiltration, cosmetic imperfections, spoilage and simple household/food industry waste. If that’s not bad enough, approximately 40 million gardeners in the United States either allow the excess fruits of their labor to decompose on the vine or they compost or discard whatever they can’t or don’t want to eat. Ample Harvest enables backyard gardeners who have an abundance of extra produce to donate it to local food banks without breaking a sweat, doing something good for the community as well as the planet.
Bicycles are a dime a dozen, right? Perhaps if you’re blessed with economic stability they are, but in the case of quite a lot of other individuals – even in the states – they happen to be so financially challenged that owning a bike seems like a pipe dream. The non-profit organization Recycle-A-Bicycle is more than happy to put your unwanted two wheeler to good use, whether you live in the Big Apple (where they’re located) or you choose to mail them your donation. In exchange for your generosity, they bestow all of the newly acquired bikes that are in sound condition with the necessary tweaks to make them run smoothly and appear snazzier. (Those that are beyond help are used for parts and sold at a steep discount to avid bicyclists.) Then, through their Earn-A-Bike program, they allow community youth to score a freebie bike of their choice upon the successful completion of a specified number of volunteer hours.
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