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Brooksby ‘toters’

Win-win program helps environment, local community

Created date

August 23rd, 2011

Almost two years ago, Ellen Dunning saw redeemable bottles and cans leaving her Brooksby Village neighborhood without being redeemed. A longtime recycler, Ellen sprung into action and began collecting these items from the recycling bins in her building and redeeming them for charity. Gradually people knew about it and began to save for me, but I could only get to one or two buildings, so then we got the idea that there are a great many more that we didn t touch, Ellen recalls. Ellen collected about $300 over the course of a year from the five-cent deposits she received per item she redeemed herself. She donated that money to Haven from Hunger, a local organization dedicated to hunger relief efforts in Peabody, Salem, and Lynnfield, Mass. Shortly after she started collecting the redeemable items, Ellen brought the idea of expanding her mission to members of Brooksby s Energy and Conservation Committee, on which she also serves.

Expanding mission

Ellen wanted to provide an easy way for those living in the Erickson Living community in Peabody to redeem their recyclables and help the greater community. To see her mission fulfilled, Ellen worked with fellow Brooksby residents Marguerite Pfeiffer and Dorathy Stewart to devise a plan, then involved Energy and Conservation Committee members Barbara Hooper and Carolyn Williamson, and Brooksby Housekeeping Manager Nancy Duffy and Community Resources Coordinator Mary Landry. Duffy ordered recyclable toters, or bins for the recyclable items, Landry made arrangements with Haven from Hunger and took charge of publicity, and Ellen encouraged her Brooksby neighbors to conveniently drop off their bottles and cans every Wednesday in toters in one of three designated areas on campus. Haven from Hunger picks up the recyclables on Thursday and redeems the items. The Energy and Conservation Committee used Let s make magic and turn empty bottles and cans into food for those who need it as its publicity slogan for the program, which launched in May and was a resounding success.

Tremendous response

We re very enthusiastic about the activities of the residents regarding this program, says Walter Ross, chair of the Energy and Conservation Committee. They ve really responded to it 100%. He adds of the program s leaders, I think that they re doing a tremendous job. Landry adds, We contribute about $30 a week. Haven from Hunger is very pleased with this contribution. I think many of our residents are really pleased to see this project continuing after our trial period during the month of May, Barbara Hooper says. We feel it is a win/win project for all the residents don t have to return their bottles and cans to the supermarket; at the same time they are contributing to a worthwhile cause and helping to feed those who are less fortunate than we are. The overall recycling efforts at Brooksby have also been a success, Walter explains. In 2010, the community reduced its trash by 4.2% from 2009, while it increased recyclables 20.67% compared with 2009, recycling an additional 203.5 tons. Those involved in the redeemable program want to see their efforts replicated in other communities. Ellen adds: I don t like wasting things. I hope other Erickson Living communities in states where they have the refundables do this.