Another person's trash is another person’s treasure

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Entirely East Lansing
By: Andrea Urban

Recycle! East Lansing, formerly Project Pride, is one of the biggest recycling events in the Lansing area each year.

On May 30 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., just like a drive-through service, residents can drive their cars through the Abbott Centre lot and drop off junk they’d like to recycle. About 300-500 cars drive through each year, sometimes more than once, said Susan Schmidt, coordinator of the event.

The recycling event has been around for 22 years and Schmidt has been involved with it for 21. It takes about 120 volunteers to run the event and keep it successful.

Some volunteers include Mark Foster, the JV football coach at East Lansing High School, Boy Scouts, many fraternities from Michigan State and senior citizens from the Prime Time Senior Program.

The seniors collect old cellphones for individuals who live at home or are isolated. Kelly Arndt, the director of the senior program, says they reprogram the phones so they can dial only 911.


If you are unable to attend the event, Arndt is collecting phones year round. Just drop them off at the Hannah Community Center’s Prime Time Senior Program.

Instead of disposing of all the junk that gets dropped off during the event, for example, the Recycle! East Lansing team collects gently used children’s books that get sorted and brought to two clinics in the Lansing and MSU area.

According to Cathy DeShambo, the environmental services administrator of the city, Project Pride collected 2.7 tons of books last year.

“One of the great things I see happen because of this event is great connection between the city, staff and residents. You get to work side by side with the people you know about but have never had the chance to meet,” said DeShambo

Household goods go straight to the Salvation Army and H&H Mobile handles things like old car batteries.

Recycling electronics has become the most popular, but is also the most expensive, said Schmidt. Nineteen tons of electronics were collected last year, and the disposal of them seems to cost more each year.

Sponsorships allow the event to be free for all city residents. The event’s team will sell all the scrap metal it collects to add to its budget for next year.

“There is no goal to make a profit, it is all about us coming together as a community,” said DeShambo.

Lary Hill of the Lion’s Club collects glasses at the event. He fixes them and then brings the glasses to impoverished areas for those who need them but may not be able to afford them.

Recycle! East Lansing has created a senior curbside pickup service for seniors who struggle to leave their home. The city gives Schmidt and her team four trucks, which on the day of the event run routes to locations in East Lansing. The trucks had 74 stops last year.

“It is so much work, but I have never not participated because I always love it when the day comes. It’s so worth it,” said Schmidt.

Recycle! East Lansing is looking for volunteers and sponsorships. To volunteer email or call Susan Schmidt at 517-333-3587. You may also go to East Lansing’s website for a list of items that will be accepted at the event.

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