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A Regular Helping of GREENS

APRIL 9, 2007

Large pile of empty plastic jugs
Izz

Posted by: Izz
6:45am

This month we'll be looking at green fashion, so we're kicking off early with an interview with Rob Wallace of Keep America Beautiful. Their Great American Cleanup last year collected 37 million plastic bottles.

Dex

Posted by: Dex
6:47am

I thought you said this was about fashion, Izz. What's that got to do with fashion?

Izz

Posted by: Izz
6:48am

Over to you, Mr. W.

Rob Wallace

Posted by: Rob
7:15am

Well, we all know that recycling is important, but we don't always see the RESULTS of recycling — what happens when all that old stuff is reincarnated as new stuff. Believe it or not, empty plastic bottles can be pretty fashionable. How? The plastic (Polyethylene terephthalate or "PET" for short) that gets recovered from the old bottles can be turned into some pretty amazing stuff, and one especially cool recycled PET product is (drum roll please...) fleece jackets and coats. Turns out that fleece jackets made from recycled PET are incredibly warm, soft and breathable. They even retain their warmth when they're soaking wet! That makes them great for outdoor activities like camping or snowboarding where you might get wet and cold at the same time.

Last year, we did a project called "Return the Warmth." Through our partners in the project (Sam's Club and Aquafina water), school kids around the country collected those 37 million bottles, then we "returned" them... as 100,000 fleece jackets that we gave back to the schools. Most of the schools that received them donated them to kids' charities, and that was especially heart warming.

We'll be doing pretty much the same thing this year, only we hope to get 45 million bottles this time around, and this year we'll turn them into PET backpacks.

Dex

Posted by: Dex
7:25am

I'll admit that's pretty radical. So what else does this Great American Cleanup do? And do you do kid's bedrooms? Because mine is looking a bit crusty even by my standards.

Rob Wallace

Posted by: Rob
7:30am

The Great American Cleanup is our signature event. Actually, it's about 30,000 events with over 2.5 million volunteers cleaning and greening communities around the country from March 1st to May 31st. Because the events are local, the volunteers take on what's most important to them, and it's a really diverse and creative selection of activities: tree plantings; recycling drives; litter cleanups; people building parks and hiking trails; kayak brigades cleaning trash out of rivers... you name it.

As for your bedroom... hey, keeping America beautiful begins at home, but don't expect a team of volunteers to come over and clean up for you. You're on your own there.

Dex

Posted by: Dex
7:40am

It was worth a shot.