Can’t recycle it? Upcycle it.

Ever heard the phrase “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?”

The environmental organization on campus has, they are going to take this phrase up a notch.

Graphic by Seth Anderson

What Students Allied for a Greener Earth actually mean by taking it up a notch is introducing a new concept called “upcycling.”

Upcycling is a specific kind of recycling that converts waste that isn’t able to be traditionally recycled into better quality products of higher environmental value, according to sustainabilitydictionary.com.

SAGE member and senior Alexandra Pitsch said she introduced the idea of joining TerraCycle, the program that promotes upcycling, at a group meeting after coming across the program’s website one afternoon.

“Recycling is very much a part of what SAGE does,” Pitsch said. “I thought that getting involved with TerraCycle would make our campus a greener one and get the word out about SAGE and what we do.”

Pitsch got involved with SAGE last spring after asking a friend what her plans for “Make a Difference Day” were.

“I had heard about SAGE but was too shy to get involved at first,” Pitsch said. “I fell in love with it after I went with a friend to a meeting.”

To make upcycling happen on our campus, the organization said it will get in touch with TerraCycle, which will send them boxes for collecting the items. These boxes will be placed around campus near garbage bins, campus halls and buildings.

After members of SAGE have collected the items, they will mail the boxes to the TerraCycle headquarters in New Jersey, where the items will be turned into new products.

“TerraCycle does everything on their dime,” Pitsch said. “They send us the boxes, stamps and everything else, so all we do is spread the word and collect the items from everyone.”

According to its website, TerraCycle can take items deemed non-recyclable, such as wrappers, ink cartridges, pens, pencils and other objects, and turn them into new items like bags, garden items, recycling bins, fences, picture frames and office supplies.

It also states that for most of the items that are sent, the program will donate two cents per unit of waste collected to any charity of that group’s choice. Since the program began, it has donated more than $1.5 million to charities all over the world and has collected almost 2 billion units of waste.

TerraCycle.net states that its major hope is to “eliminate the idea of waste by creating collection and solution systems for anything that today ends up in our trash.”

SAGE said it plans to work with Residents Life and other student organizations on the TerraCycle project to get the campus involved.

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