The face of Old Town Lansing would be almost incomplete without Friedland Industries. The recycling business opened its doors over a century ago and continues to be the biggest employer in the district with more than 30 employees. The company is currently in the midst of one of its many outreach efforts: Document Destruction Month.
On every Wednesday in April, Friedland is offering unlimited, free document shredding services to anyone who stops by in exchange for a donation of at least $5 to this year’s charity partner, the Mikey23 Foundation. The Mikey23 Foundation seeks to improve the lives of youth “through innovative education and training in the area of skilled trades.”
The foundation was established in memory of Lansing’s Michael “Mikey” McKissic II, a victim of gun violence who died in 2015.
Josh Stewart has been working at Friedland Industries for six years, initially starting part-time as he went through Michigan State University. He’s now a full-time employee and is proud to partner with the Mikey23 Foundation, explaining that everyone wins during Document Destruction Month.
Even though the company’s services are free, Friedland Industries also makes money by selling the recycled paper to buyers across the state. The foundation wins by getting donations from customers who need to shred their documents. And, of course, the community wins by getting access to affordable shredding of confidential documents, just in time for tax season.
The company typically provides shredding services to the public every Wednesday throughout the year, not just in April, but the cost is usually $3/box or $15/bin. Customers range from individuals who bring in small boxes to companies that pull up with a truckload of paper. Although Stewart says that people often donate more than the $5 minimum, shredding documents in bulk during this outreach effort is still significantly cheaper than it usually is, and the foundation is raising money that it otherwise wouldn’t have.
Stan Hernandez has been working at Friedland for about a year. He operates the machinery used to shred confidential documents and said that it’s usually busier on Wednesdays in April than regular days. However, the increase is nothing that the staff can’t handle, especially with the philanthropic benefits in mind.
“It’s good for the community,” Hernandez said. “It helps everybody.”
Friedland recycles more than just paper. Fittingly, then, it also hosts community outreach efforts that involve more than just paper.
Another of Friedland’s events, called ScrapFest, takes place in mid-summer and involves local artists choosing up to 500 pounds of scrap metal from Friedland’s Old Town plant and repurposing it into sculptures. Once the sculptures are completed, a full-on festival is hosted, during which artists can auction off their work.
The artists keep 70% of the proceeds, while 20% goes toward funding the festival and 10% goes to a local charity. Friedland has purchased back some of its favorite sculptures over the years and proudly displays them throughout the complex.
The company also prides itself on helping more than just people. It prides itself on helping an entity that lacks the ability to defend itself: the environment. The paper that Friedland processes uses 65% less energy being transformed into new paper than it would take to create the same amount of new paper from cutting down trees, according to the company’s website.
For the remaining Wednesdays in April, anyone can drop off documents for shredding at Friedland’s plant at 405 E. Maple St. in Lansing during business hours, 8 a.m to 4:30 p.m. for a minimum donation of $5.