Wed October 19, 2011
Originally published October 19, 2011 by the Toledo Blade
Hannah Jacobs, Erek Hansen, and Brad Fields load shoes at the Owens campus into the truck. Owens Environmental Club collected shoes to aid Erek in his goal of promoting environmental conservation and awareness.
Erek Hansen is only 11, but the environmentally conscious sixth grader has spent nearly three years collecting thousands of worn-out jeans to be recycled for housing insulation for communities in need.
His latest endeavor?
Collecting shoes that can be transformed into playground surfacing, synthetic turf, running tracks, tennis courts, and car insulation.
Early this month, the Curtice resident got a little help with his project when Owens Community College's Environmental Club donated 659 pairs of shoes -- flipflops, high heels, and everything in between.
The club presented the shoes at the college.
"I was so excited," said Erek, a student at Eisenhower Middle School in Oregon. "I didn't think they would collect that many. 'That's fantastic,' I thought."
Brad Fields, an Owens student who is the club president, said the shoes were collected during a three-week period on the two college campuses.
Owens Community College's Environmental Club collected 659 pairs of shoes during a three-week period on the two Owens campuses. The shoes are to be recycled into playground surfacing, synthetic turf, running tracks, tennis courts, and automobile insulation.
So far, Erek counted his shoe tally at 2,816 pairs -- all collected at shoe drives and drop-off boxes in the community, plus the Owens contribution.
The shoes are to be sent to USAgain, a for-profit recycling company in Chicago.
"I just love recycling," said Erek, adding he wasn't sure what he wanted to be when he grew up. "I want to conserve our natural sources and help save the planet," he said.