Trash to Treasures in Batavia, NY




While on assignment in Batavia last week I spend the day buried in hundreds of feet of curbside recycling: plastic bottles, jugs, newspaper, magazines, cardboard, steel cans, glass bottles, jars, pizza boxes, Styrofoam, cans, catalogs and phone books.

Now I’m sure that the western New York town is a vibrant, safe and beautiful place to explore but my assignment kept me hostage at the Genesee Trash & Recycling Center but quite happily might I add.

What I thought was going to be a foul-smelling, dirty, cold and loud facility turned out to be just the contrary as well as an eye-opening experience. Here I was in a community with a population of only 25,000 surrounded by hundreds of tons of recyclables, albeit it recyclables that will get sorted, re-purposed and re-used again but the magnitude, the scope of the amount collected and being collected was overwhelming. Rubbish of all kinds had accumulated to landslide proportions and this was but a small town. Imagine, I thought to myself, Buffalo or Albany or Goddess forbid, NYC!

As soon as I got home, I began to re-examine my buying habits. I use my own grocery bags, avoid additional packaging and reuse materials in DYI projects. But, when I found TerraCycle I realized others were way ahead of me in their resourcefulness.

This fairly new small up-cycling start-up in New Jersey is incredible. It’s a national recycling system for hard-to-recycle waste like cigarette butts, potato chip bags, toothpaste tubes, corks from a wine bottle, candy wrappers, flip-flops, calculators, jewelry, even scotch tape dispensers. Everything gets turned into something useful again like a mop bucket, park bench, kids backpack, etc…

A community like Batavia doesn’t have to be the only conscientious game in town. Not only that, TerraCycle contributes money towards your favorite charity every time you send them your junk. They provide UPS shipping and free boxes.

It’s definitely something a community should consider after all the presents are unwrapped this holiday season.