Ever lose one of your favorite shoes and feel like it’s a shame to throw out the other one? Well you don’t have to! That lonely shoe can be recycled and made into fences, cutting boards, watering cans, and even benches. This is all done through a company called TerraCycle. They take many products that you would normally throw out and make them into something new.
What I have been doing with the Office of Campus Sustainability for the past three days is cutting up people’s old shoes that have been donated to the Free Store. The shoes that don’t have a partner or are all worn out are cut so they can better fit in the box to send to TerraCycle, where they will turn them into new park benches. Cutting them up effectively doubles the amount of shoes that can fit in a box to be shipped.
TerraCycle even makes it easy for you to send products to them by having pre-paid shipping labels that that be printed of their website. When they receive the product you have shipped them in the facility, they reward you with TerraCycle points, which can be paid out for $0.01 per point to a variety of non-profit organizations of your choice.
Maybe you’re saying to yourself “I don’t have that many old shoes, how am I going to fill a whole box?” Well, they don’t recycle just shoes. You can find out a list of items they collect on their website here: http://www.terracycle.ca/en-CA/brigades.html . They collect a variety of things from cigarette butts, which you could easily collect on any street downtown, to old electronics, to a variety of plastic packaging for products. You could even place a box to collect the Tassimo coffee cups next to the machine at work, rather than have them thrown out.
It was great to volunteer at the Office of Campus Sustainability and learn about great companies like these that make it so easy to help reduce waste. This experience has inspired me to better reduce waste at home, and I hope it does the same for others.