ASHEVILLE — According to the EPA, Americans throw away 1.6 billion disposable pens every year. In an effort to bring awareness to this issue of difficult-to-recycle items, specifically plastic writing instruments, Boy Scout William David of Troop 91 chose to create an education and recycling plan in conjunction with Asheville Catholic School. The effort was his Eagle Scout and Hornaday Conservation project.
Working with Asheville Catholic’s student council, David launched a school-wide education program and recycling collection contest. Using his school’s program as an example, David, along with other Scouts from Troop 91, expanded the recycling program to more than 70 community organizations including schools, universities, libraries, businesses, religious institutions, and other Scout troops. More than 125 pounds of writing instruments have been collected over the past several months.
The collected materials are recycled by mail through the “Brigrade” program at TerraCycle, a company that collects previously non-recyclable or difficult-to-recycle waste. They offer free shipping as well as a donation for each item recycled.
David has also been working with Asheville GreenWorks (ashevillegreenworks.org) and encouraging people to participate in their “Hard 2 Recycle” events. Community members can save their used plastic writing instruments, which includes all markers, pens and mechanical pencils, and recycle them at these quarterly collection events. Asheville Greenworks also collects many other types of items that are difficult to recycle.