Have Trash? Turn It Into Something Fabulous
By The Frugal Girl on November 18, 2010
In some WalMart parking lots in the state of New Jersey, you can do just that. Walmart has placed Terracycle recycling centers in some of its parking lots, and at these centers, when you insert your trash, Terracycle donates money to New Jersey schools.
Usually Terracycle acquires their trash from organizations who band together and round up large quantities of wrappers to send in, and in return, Terracycle pays several cents per item to the school or non-profit organization.
In contrast, the Terracycle recycling centers in the Walmart parking lot don't require you to amass an enormous collection of wrappers ... you can donate as many or as few as you like, and you don't have to organize a large group of people to do it.
I definitely respect the work that Terracycle is doing, and I think that making the trash donation process simpler is a fabulous idea. And the fact that the trash is exchanged for a charitable donation adds a nice layer of feel-good to the whole process.
Of course, if everyone on the planet was inspired about recycling, we wouldn't need to make recycling so easy. But the long and short of it is that a lot of people aren't going to bother to recycle unless it's easy and rewarding, and for that reason, I can definitely get behind Terracycle's idea.
The W Word
Now, what about these centers being in Walmart's parking lots? I've written before that I'm no fan of Walmart (mostly because the store is too darn big and I lack the motivation to walk half a mile to obtain shampoo), and I'm well aware that Walmart has some very large downsides when it comes to the environment. But like it or not, Walmart is probably here to stay, and I for one am happy whenever that large corporation does something that is healthy for the environment.
Would our environment be healthier if Walmart didn't exist? Probably. But if I have to choose between a Walmart with no Terracycle and a Walmart with Terracycle, then I'm definitely going with the latter.
Recycling AND Reducing
I don't usually shop at Walmart, so I doubt I'll be making use of the Terracycle centers even if they do make their way to my local Walmart (if they start putting them in Goodwill parking lots, though, I'll be all over that!)
The type of thing Terracycle does is just part of the green picture, though, since recycling alone is not the answer to our trash problems. Because the recycling process itself uses resources and produces pollution, I think the best way to deal with trash is to reduce the amount we produce in the first place.
To that end, instead of buying individually packaged drinks like Capri Sun, my family and I fill our Klean Kanteens with water. Instead of putting individually wrapped crackers and cookies into Mr. Frugal Girl's lunch, I buy larger packages and divvy the contents into small glass containers. Instead of buying packaged produce, I put it into my cart all bare and naked. Instead of buying yogurt in little cups, I make my own and store it in glass Mason jars. I've even recently found a store that will sell unpackaged chicken to me if I bring my own glass container.
As I mentioned before, though, the fact of the matter is that not everyone is able or willing to put in the effort required to reduce their trash consumption. And despite my best efforts, my household is nowhere close to being a zero-waste zone ... every week I have a pretty respectable amount of trash that needs to be recycled.
And because of that, I'm not going to get on my "We should all be so fabulously green that we produce no waste at all" high horse. Terracycle provides a valuable service, and I hope their centers will pop up in more and more parking lots.
What do you think? Are you enthused about Terrcycle's centers? Or are you soured by the fact that they're in Walmart's parking lots?
Photo Credit: TheImpulsiveBuy.
Kristen writes about cheerfully living on less at The Frugal Girl. She's a photography and baking nut, and a happy wife (of one) and mom (of four).