Grab today’s to-do list and check out your top five items. Buy bananas? Check. Hit the gym? Check. Watch the latest episode of Glee? Check. Recycle rechargeable batteries? Perhaps not.
Recycling these reusable power packs may not be on the top of your to-do list, but a recent campaign by Call2Recycle proved it’s a high priority for environmental enthusiasts across the country.
From July to October, the organization, which offers the only free rechargeable battery and cell phone recycling service in North America, challenged consumers to recycle 1 million pounds of batteries in three months through its MyCall2Recycle campaign.
“There’s so much green clutter out there,” says Dana Barka, senior manager, marketing communications, for Call2Recycle. “We couldn’t just be another person saying ‘you can recycle this.’ We wanted people to feel like they were a part of something.”
And indeed, people became a “part” of something.
Hitting the road
During the campaign, Call2Recycle drove across North America, hosting local collection drives to raise awareness of their free rechargeable battery recycling service.
Stopping in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Diego and Toronto, the events drew thousands of people looking to recycle their batteries. Atlanta’s constituents topped all other markets by recycling more than 63,000 pounds.
“It was pretty exciting because we had the four partners: DeWalt, Lowe’s, Staples and RadioShack,” says Barka. “Four out of our five collection drives were held at Lowe’s locations, so we got to speak to customers who already shop at there about how they can recycle there as well.”
Turnout was impressive at the events. “During the collection drive, we talked to over 3,000 people about battery recycling. So yeah, it was pretty rewarding to see people responding.”
For Barka, seeing consumers’ desire to recycle, but uncertainty about how to do so, gave her and the Call2Recycle team additional motivation to continue their quest to recycle 1 million pounds of batteries.
“Some people had never recycled batteries before, but they were holding onto them because they knew they shouldn’t be thrown away,” she adds.
According to Barka, their Canadian collection drive in Toronto garnered the most overwhelming response, where they nabbed more than 5,000 pounds of batteries from fans who came out to meet hockey legend Guy Lafleur or attend a baseball game later on that day.
“There was a little contest where you couldn’t meet Guy unless you brought batteries – people were bringing them in by the truckloads,” Barka recalls. “I had never seen anything like it. There were people lined up when we arrived two hours early.”
The crowd was an anomaly, according to Barka. “You couldn’t do that stateside. I don’t know who would draw a crowd like that. Maybe Lady Gaga?” she laughs.
Another exciting aspect of the collection drives was the enthusiasm the Call2Recycle team saw from the younger set. The final U.S. stop on the collection drive was at Poway High School, just outside of San Diego.
“We just learned about how passionate students can be. The students at Poway High School have a robotics team who brought their robots out to the event,” Barka says. “And they filled up boxes and boxes of batteries just from their team.”
For such a small item, the energy was high from students who wanted to make a difference. “I mean it’s just batteries, who cares? But they do. They were awesome,” she says.
And the Results Are…
According to Barka, the organization collected more than 1,165,000 pounds of batteries in the U.S. for recycling during the campaign.
“It was a challenging goal but we got there,” she says.
As part of the MyCall2Recycle campaign, Call2Recycle also hosted an online video contest asking entrants to finish the statement “My call to recycle is…”
Three winners, Debra Nicholson, Sydney Lockhart, and Shanna Cross submitted answers ranging from helping the troops to being more green.
Another contest asked entrants to write an essay about their “green hero.” Jill Ashley, of Orlando, Fla., took home a FlipCam for being her brother Taylor Ashley’s green hero.
“We really appreciate anyone who brought any kind of battery or cell phone. Every battery and cell phone helped us to surpass our million pound goal,” Barka says.
If you missed the MyCall2Recycle collection drive but have rechargeables that are ready to be recycled, add “find one of Call2Recycle’s 30,000 recycling locations” to your to-do list. Recycling these little items can make a surprisingly huge difference. To find a Call2Recycle battery and cell phone collection site near you, visit Call2Recycle.org and enter your zip code into the site locator.
Check out one of the winning videos:
Earth911 partners with many industries, manufacturers and organizations to support its Recycling Directory, the largest in the nation, which is provided to consumers at no cost. Call2Recycle is one of these partners.