Bottle School Blitzing

Bottle School Blitzing

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Ever since my freshman year at Mount Union, I have been fortunate to be a part of Raider Relief, an awesome student organization here on campus. We have an underlying mission statement: Student-driven humanitarianism, helping those in need with passion, love and good deeds. Basically our group recognizes the needs of people less fortunate than ourselves and acts upon those needs in a fashion that is timely, sympathetic and rewarding. Some of our past philanthropic projects have been Soles for Souls, Hugs for Haiti, Help to Others, March Makeover and most recently a Walk 2 Remember.

Not only do we strive to impact Mount Union’s local community of Alliance, Ohio, but we extend help to people all over the world by partnering with other charitable organizations. By teaming up with other charities we have declared our organization as a non-profitable group, where 100% of all of our earnings are donated to those in need.

This year our project is a Bottle School Blitz – a 10-day community and campus-wide fund-raising effort. The project will benefit Hug it Forward, a not-for-profit organization with an innovative approach to improving the educational infrastructure of developing nations. Hug It Forward focuses on building schools in Guatemala out of plastics bottles and non-biodegradable trash. The area of Guatemala has around a 25% illiteracy rate and many places don’t even have schools for children to learn in. These places are recognizable from the non-profit’s executive director, who used to do Peace Corps work in the area, and is able to recognize communities in dire need.

The Bottle School Blitz project consists of two phases. The first of which (the community blitz) will take place on Saturday, November 19. Teams of student volunteers will staff tables set up outside of more than a dozen high-traffic retail locations throughout Alliance, asking shoppers for donations to support the project’s cause. The second phase will be campus based. Empty plastic beverage bottles will be issued to hundreds of students before they head home for Thanksgiving break. Each student will be challenged to fill his or her bottle with spare change from home and return to campus with a coin-filled bottle.

The last, and ongoing phase, is an online donation site for those who cannot help with the community or campus initiative. If you would like to donate or share the donation site with anyone, please click this link! I sure hope that everyone reading this can help our project in any way possible. Share it with friends, family and online … a little help by a lot of people can go a long way. Help be the change we want to see in the world!

The Game Day Challenge: Attempting to Go Zero-Waste

The Game Day Challenge: Attempting to Go Zero-Waste

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One of the university groups I am involved with at Mount Union is the Sustainable Management Advisory Committee (SMAC). Part of my role within this group is to help assist in the decision making process of socially and environmentally sound opportunities to create a sustainable atmosphere for students. I have helped promote awareness for sustainability on campus by doing some marketing in the library and writing green facts in The Dynamo (our school’s weekly newspaper). One project this year is the Game Day Challenge, which will be held at our last home football game of the year against Baldwin-Wallace.

The Game Day Challenge is a groundbreaking event for sustainability on the campus of Mount Union. Mount Union Stadium will host the first ever near-zero waste event. Universities nation wide sign up for this event to measure and report recycling, composting, reuse, donation and trash disposal in pounds at sporting events. The EPA will recognize all Game Day Challenge participants in December of 2011 and present awards in the following five categories: waste generation, diversion rate, greenhouse gas reduction, recycling and organics reduction. Several of these categories are measured by taking the pounds of waste and dividing it by the total attendance, leaving a rate of per capita waste generation. The colleges and universities with the highest rates will be presented with awards. Basically, much of the trash generated at the game will no longer just go to a landfill.

At the game, there will be several stations set up where fans will be engaged an educated on where to properly dispose of concessions and refreshments. Recycling will still be taken to the schools municipality, the organics will be composted at our school’s Nature Center and the waste that cannot be handled will have to go to a landfill. One part that I am really excited about is how we will recycle our chip bags and candy bar wrappers. We will be putting different collection bins out for these and sending them to TerraCycle, where I interned this past summer, and they will be turned into eco-products. This is just another big step Mount Union is taking to become a more environmentally sound campus. Come out and cheer on a Purple Raider win, but also do your part to help a win for the environment!

My Internship at TerraCycle

My Internship at TerraCycle

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I posted in my first blog about some of the cool jobs and internships I have been fortunate to have. I wanted to take the time and talk about my most previous internship in the business development department at TerraCycle this past summer. I moved out to Trenton, New Jersey to work for a company that is simply eliminating the idea of waste. CEO Tom Szaky, from his book Revolution in a Bottle, says it best that “in looking at waste as an entirely modern, man-made idea, I stopped viewing garbage as garbage and instead slowly started to see it as a commodity.” The private company’s goal is to engage consumers and communities in the collection of non-recyclable waste, things that you ordinarily cannot throw away into a recycling bin. Through a collection process, or Brigade™, consumers can send in their used products to TerraCycle where they will transform the waste into eco-products. They also incentivize the collections by rewarding consumers with $0.02 per item to a charity or school of their choice. This is able to close an environmental loop for brand’s consumers, and help them realize that there is an end of life decision for all the products they are using.

From corks, cameras, cell phones, any sort of packaging, pre-consumer waste, shoes, diapers, energy bars, pens to yogurt containers, TerraCycle handles them all. They are very proud to say that they have not yet encountered a form of waste in which they can’t handle. Also, the whole Trenton office is upcycled featured conference rooms made from bottle walls and reclaimed doors used for desks (the office was voted the “Coolest in America.”). Some of their more successful products can be found in Walmart and the Home Depot like the Capri Sun backpack and the garbage cans made from 1,500 Frito-Lay bags. Next time you’re at the grocery store, be sure to look at the back of a Capri Sun box!

By being a part of the business development team it was my duty to research and reach out to prospective brands to sponsor a specific Brigade™ or waste stream. Some of the companies that I was on conference calls and in contact with were Adidas, Puma, Mary’s Gone Cracker, ReBounces and KEEN Footwear. I actually helped facilitate and close a deal for ReBounces where TerraCycle will collect and reuse tennis balls. This was truly an amazing experience and I learned valuable skills like brand management, business etiquette and abstract thinking. An internship experience is a great way to help someone better understand and mature in a real world business environment. I also was able to explore the east coast, a place unfamiliar to me. It was fun to go to Times Square, Philadelphia for the 4th of July, and different beaches along the coast as well as go surfing. I actually was able to surprisingly see P Diddy and the Jersey Shore cast on two different occasions!

If it wasn’t for some of the classes I took at Mount Union, I may have not been able to land the internship. There are several courses in the Department of Economics, Accounting and Business Administration offered like life and career plans that helped me construct proper resumes, cover letters, references, acceptance letters and allowed me to participate in mock interviews. I found the internship online, and all the tools I learned in class were put into use. I really loved working for an eco-capitalist company, and I hope to implement some of the ideas here at Mount Union. Maybe one day our campus will be completely off of waste!