Fri May 27, 2011

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How a 10-Year-Old Has Kept 10,000 Pounds of Textiles Out of Landfills

Just last month, I asked you to take the Not One Sock Pledge, a pledge to recycle, reuse, donate, swap and otherwise repurpose all your unwanted clothes and textiles, thereby keeping them out of the trash and out of landfills.

In light of that challenge I want to highlight the efforts of one inspiring young individual who has taken on the cause of keeping clothes out of landfills. Ten year old Erek Hansen, who goes by Eco-Erek, has made incredible strides with his annual denim drives.

In 2009, Eco-Erek, who lives in Ohio, was inspired by an article he read in National Geographic Kids about how denim can be recycled into insulation for housing. That year, he held his first denim collection drive and collected 1,000 pieces. The results of the first drive led to a visit to the National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and participation in the Guinness World Record ceremony for the "Largest Collection of Clothing to Recycle."

Eco-Erek donates the denim he collects to Cotton From Blue to Green, which then breaks it down and remanufactures it into fiber insulation. One hundred percent of the insulation is then donated to homeowners who are rebuilding after a flood, tornado or other natural disaster. Eco-Erek and his mother, Amy Hansen, are working to see if some of the insulation can be used in northwest Ohio in areas damaged by tornados.

Fueled by this first great success, Eco-Erek continued his efforts the following year. In 2010 he collected a whopping 4,154 pieces of denim. That adds up to about 9,100 pounds of textiles and converts to about 13,800 square feet of insulation, which is enough to insulate just over eight homes!

This year Eco-Erek has partnered with USAgain and has expanded his recycling mission. He will now be collecting shoes in addition to denim. This year Eco-Erek is aiming to collect 5,000 pieces of denim and as many pairs of shoes as possible. See an up-to-the-minute count on his progress and find out about his June recycling events on his website.

I think Eco-Erek's efforts are incredibly inspiring: over 10,000 pounds of textiles kept out of landfills and recycled in two years... by one motivated 10 year old boy. Amazing. And age is no bar to join the recycling club.

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