Every time I put a piece of plastic in the trash I wince. We’ve talked about this before. Materials can only be recycled if a viable post-consumer use exists for them. The amount of plastic in our lives that isn’t being recycled is overwhelming.
That’s why I’m so excited by a Howard County non-profit called Upcycled. You may remember them as a participant in this year’s Changemaker Challenge. Upcycled was founded in 2019 by Orlando Goncalves and Freddie Striano in response to the amount of plastics they were finding on their outdoor hikes around Howard County. As they collected trash and plastics on their hikes, they challenged themselves to answer this question: how can we give single-use plastic a long-term purpose?
Their solution: building materials. It works like this. Upcycled holds trail cleanups around the county in collaboration with other community groups. Plastics that are labeled 2 and 5 are brought to their recycling center. Those materials are then processed and turned into building materials. Like this:
Photos courtesy of Upcycled
Upcycled has formed a partnership with the Community Ecology Institute, the folks who run Freetown Farm. That’s where that colorful raised garden bed structure is located. You can also drop off your clean 2 and 5 plastics at the Farm during their regular business hours. It’s very cool to see this kind of collaboration between Changemaker Challenge participants.
Upcycled has begun a new initiative called Waste to Wonder.
Thanks to the Live Green Howard project, put forth by the Howard County Government, we have been able to create a line of UV protected structures such as our gray picnic table.
The objective of this project is to expand community awareness regarding the plastic crisis and encourage recycling in Howard County through the creation of building materials from recycled plastics.
For the next steps of the Waste to Wonder Program our team will highlight a park in Howard County for a beautification project. This will include trail cleanup(s) as well as installing three UV protected structures into the park. (from Upcycled’s Facebook page)
Here’s what you can do right now to help. Learn more on their Facebook page and on their website. Save, clean, and donate #2 and #5 plastics. And - - drumroll, please - - come to their Fundraiser/Happy Hour this Sunday at Lost Ark Distillery to learn more about Waste to Wonder and enjoy great food and drink. Event sponsor Sobar (another Changemaker Challenge alum!) assures me there’ll be great sober options on hand as well.
Sunday, March 6, 2022
1:00 PM – 4:00 PM EST
Lost Ark Distilling Company
9570 Berger Road #L
Columbia, MD 21046
Buy tickets and/or make a donation here: Waste to Wonder