AYER/SHIRLEY -- You have heard, no doubt, of the importance of recycling, but what about "upcycling?"
Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality, or for better environmental value.
Lou's Upcycling, one of many vendors participating in the fourth annual multi-town Recycling Your Reusables Day on Saturday, Oct. 20, is dedicated to the practice of creating new, functional pieces of wearable art from unrecyclable plastic packaging.
"Lou" is S. Lou Leelyn, who, after discovering how to make yarn from plastic bags, became an avid upcycler. She has since kept over 20,000 bags out of the landfill by turning them into sturdy, fun, graphically appealing fabric that she turns into tote and laptop bags, purses, pouches, and many other decorative and utilitarian items.
Exciting Additions Besides the addition of Lou's Upcycling, there are other exciting changes to this year's Recycling Your Reusables event. For the first time, it will be held at the Ayer Shirley Regional Middle School, located at 1 Hospital Road in Shirley, rather than at the high school in Ayer, and its hours have been expanded to 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Another new vendor this year will be More Than Words (MTW), a nonprofit that empowers youth who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless, or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business.
MTW youth work together
They will be collecting books, video games, DVDs and CDs this year for resale in their Waltham bookstore. The proceeds will go toward their youth development and job training.
Another newcomer this year will be Bay State Textiles. Over the last several years, this Massachusetts-based recycling company has been working with several municipalities to divert their post-consumer textile waste away from the general waste stream. The waste is primarily made up of clothing, household linens, and shoes, which are sold in thrift stores and exported to several countries.
Bay State will be accepting clothes, bedding, linens, towels, sheets, curtains, fabric, leather hats, gloves, belts, backpacks, plush toys, and other textile products to either resell or recycle. Items donated must not be wet or have a bad odor.
In addition, "No nonsense" hosiery company will be accepting all brands of pantyhose, nylon knee-highs, and tights for recycling.
John Bacon, owner of All-American-Recycling, LLC of Ayer, said that his company will be collecting "anything with or without a plug, or battery operated."
All small electronics such as speakers, printers, stereos, DVD and VCR players, networking equipment, laptops, and personal computers will be accepted for free. Televisions 27 inches and smaller are $10; any television above 27 inch is $15. Personal computer CRT monitors are $8, and Freon-bearing appliances are $15.
We'll also accept light iron, plastic (like plastic toys), and cardboard boxes," said Bacon.
Valley Green Shredding will be available for shredding paper, CDs and DVDs. The company requests that people bring no more than five banker's boxes worth of paper.
A Tufts University student environmental group will be collecting potato chip bags and granola bar wrappers to be upcycled through TerraCycle to benefit their organization, and People of Ayer Concerned about the Environment will be collecting used sports and work-out equipment and clothing to resell to benefit their nonprofit group.
Also in attendance will be MassToss and several local environmental organizations. The Ayer Recycling Committee will be selling Earth Machine composters for $40 each.
Returning vendors this year are The Lowell Wish Project, ReFoamIt, Bikes Not Bombs, Nike Reuse-a-Shoe, ReStore, Casella Waste Systems, Wheels for the World, and Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry.
The Lowell Wish Project is again accepting gently used household goods including clothes, furniture, mattresses/box springs, radios and TVs, appliances, computers, linens, Game Boys and baby gear.
They will not accept baskets, pictures, decorative items, toys or stuffed animals, outdoor furniture, bikes, grills, console TVs, extra large furniture or sports equipment.
ReFoamIt will accept Styrofoam food trays and containers (No. 6 only, rinsed clean), coolers, drink cups, packing peanuts, plastic utensils and other items made of Styrofoam.
Bikes Not Bombs is in need of used bikes, helmets and accessories for disadvantaged Boston youth and people in developing countries. A $10 donation is requested with each donated bike.
Nike Reuse-A-Shoe will be collecting all brands of athletic shoes to reprocess into athletic playing surfaces.
Habitat for Humanity's ReStore program will accept any usable construction materials: doors, windows (at least double pane), usable lengths of wood, dry wall, nails, screws, hardware, lighting, plumbing (no toilets unless brand new), bathtubs, sinks, tile, unopened paint, furniture, and electric appliances under five years old.
The proceeds from the sale of donated goods at reduced prices help local Habitat affiliates fund the construction of Habitat homes within their communities.
Casella Waste Systems will be accepting rigid plastics such as kids' toys and playground equipment, outdoor furniture, trash barrels, five-gallon pails, and milk crates.
Wheels for the World, a religious organization that provides free wheelchairs to children and adults affected by disabilities, will be accepting canes, manual wheelchairs, aluminum crutches, and walkers.
Loaves & Fishes will be accepting nonperishable food items, which will count as the suggested donation for participation in the event, which is sponsored by the Ayer and Shirley Recycling Committees.
Bigger and Better
We expect this year's event to be bigger and better," said Ayer Recycling Committee Chairman Laurie Sabol. "Last year we had 200 cars come through. I would love to have 250.
We still need volunteers to help us get the word out in all of the towns," she added. "If you are associated with a particular environmental or civic organization in another town and want to be a sponsor, we can go through the specifics of how to publicize the event in your town if you contact me.
We will also need volunteers that day to help people to unload their vehicles, help the vendors to load materials onto their trucks, and to direct traffic and help to pack the food for Loaves & Fishes. There are lots of opportunities to help during that day."
Sabol can be reached at email@example.com or 978-496-5839.
For more information, visit http://recycleyourreusables.wordpress.com.