Trash to Treasures

The students at the Hudson Maxim elementary school in Hopatcong consider their trash to be eco-friendly and worth a little bit of cash. They also know that little bit of cash adds up quickly, rising higher everyday…just like the landfills across the country. The popular juice pouches as well as chip bags are not recyclable. Billions of drink pouches and chip bags take up space in landfills every year.

SONY DSCThanks to the TerraCycle Drink Pouch Brigade that loss of resource can end. As an eco-friendly innovator, TerraCycle converts discarded drink pouches and chip bag material into unique items such as fashion bags, tote bags, pencil cases, and other items for both kids and adults.
Hopatcong parent, Donna Luciani brought the idea of TerraCycle to her schools Parent/Teacher Organization. By collecting the drink pouches and chip bags and mailing them to the company, TerraCycle pays the school 2cents per item, which adds up to serious cash especially at an elementary school where juice is a staple drink in cafeterias.

“I had pretty much stopped buying the pouches because I knew they weren’t recyclable. Instead I sent my kids drinks in reusable thermos’ and bottles,” said Luciani.SONY DSC

When asked to supply juice pouches for a class party Luciani read about the TerraCycle fundraising program on the side of the box.

SONY DSC“We set up the containers in the school at the end of October 2009 and to date we have collected over 50,000 juice pouches, earning over $1,000 for our school. We recently added the chip bags to our collection. So far we have collected over 500 bags, earning $10,” adds Luciani.

The students are well aware that their trash earns them money to buy school supplies and HEPTO funded programs. After finishing their snacks and lunches they separate their items depositing the drink pouches and chip bags in separate containers. Once a week Luciani collects the contents of the containers from the Hudson Maxim School and the other two elementary schools in Hopatcong. She then packs them up and ships them off to TerraCycle, who provides pre-paid shipping labels.

As the program caught on and became common knowledge throughout the schools, it is expected to continue to grow, earning additional and much needed funds for the HEPTO.

“Parents have even started collecting and saving the pouches and bags at home and sending them into school with their child. It may not seem like a whole lot of money but it’s a fundraiser done primarily by the kids and it adds up,” said Luciani.

“It’s a great fundraiser because it doesn’t cost the parents or the schools anything to run it. It also provides a great lesson for the kids about the importance of recycling.”

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