Fri January 22, 2016

Rum River North placed first in textile recycling challenge

Originally published in Mille Lacs County Times


Kevin Baglein presents a check for $250 to Joanna Wuornos, Rum River North Program Coordinator, for placing first in the ninth annual America Recycles Day Challenge. Photo provided by Jill Puffer.

Milaca was recently recognized for its outstanding used clothing collections, placing first in the ninth annual America Recycles Day Challenge hosted by clothing recycler USAgain.

The contest began on Oct. 15 and ended Nov. 15. USAgain monitored clothing donations made to all bins located at schools throughout the state. Rum River North in Milaca placed first in the state, recycling 1,240 pounds of textiles. “This friendly challenge encourages students to learn more about recycling and its impacts on the planet,” said USAgain CEO Mattias Wallander. “It’s a great way for schools to engage with students and their communities about the importance of keeping textiles out of landfills, while raising money and reducing carbon footprints at the same time.”

More than 85 percent of unwanted clothing is thrown into the trash each year in the United States, totaling about 12 million tons of textiles that are buried in landfills. However, the 15 percent of clothing that is recycled is the equivalent of taking one million automobiles off the road for a year.
Harding High School in St. Paul took second place and Como Park Senior High School in St. Paul placed third.

“We have 88 schools that host bins, some large like St. Paul Harding, Cretin Durham Hall, Minnetonka schools, others in smaller towns,” said Kevin Baglien, Community Recycling Specialist at USAgain. “We built this event around America Recycles Day. We selected one week around the actual day and monitored collections from our host schools. All schools hosting a bin were entered. (Milaca) did a great job and consistently collected a nice volume.”Baglien visited Rum River North on Jan. 5 to present the school with $250 and an award certificate.

Jill Puffer, administrative assistant at Rum River North, said the school had no idea the collection was being monitored for the contest.“It was a big surprise,” she said of their win. “It’s really cool that such a small program like us was able to host such a good location.”

Minnesota schools collectively recycled 19,600 pounds of clothing during the challenge, which will prevent 294,000 pounds of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere.“We are planning on using the money to make repairs and improvements to our program,” Puffer said. “We are very thankful to Milaca. We are proud to be part of such a fantastic community!”Milaca beat second place by 80 pounds of textiles. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the average individual discards around 70 pounds of textiles annually. “It’s kind of unbelievable for such a little town. It says a lot about the community itself. It’s typical Milaca!” Puffer said.