Cleaning up the communityThe Best Friends Mentoring Program in Dickinson recently expanded its recycling program with the help of area businesses and volunteers.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
The Best Friends Mentoring Program in Dickinson recently expanded its recycling program with the help of area businesses and volunteers.
When G & G Recycling discontinued picking up aluminum cans from businesses, Best Friends saw this as an opportunity to take over the routes, said Kris Fehr, executive director.
“But more importantly, we didn’t want recycling to go away in the community — that’s really important to us because we are already committed to it and because we had been recycling for so long,” she said.
The expansion project is a fitting way to observe Earth Day on Wednesday, Fehr said.
“We celebrate Earth Day every day. We can’t just do it in April. We don’t want people to get out of the habit,” she said.
The Best Friends program has recycled aluminum cans since 2001 and gradually added cell phones, ink jet and laser cartridges, PDAs and MP3 players.
While not everyone has decided to recycle with Best Friends, many businesses have, said Best Friends program specialist Lylie Weeks.
“We’ve actually gained quite a bit of business. We’re up to over 55 in our pickup routes,” she said.
“That’s just the pickup routes. We have at least 20 more who drop things off. We have others on the will-call list who call when they need us,” Fehr said.
“We have worked closely with G & G to pick up the aluminum routes that they have maintained for years,” said Weeks. “We believe that these businesses are in the good habit of recycling and will maintain that habit if it is convenient and other businesses will want to participate as well.”
To make it easy for voluntary recyclers, Best Friends has four aluminum recycling bins located beside the Best Friends program on Villard, the West River Community Center, Runnings Farm and Fleet and Wal-Mart.
Fehr said the process of picking up recyclables is expensive.
“You have to pay your staff and gasoline costs, storage, those kinds of things. We could not do it without the volunteers,” said Fehr. “Right now the price is incredibly low for recyclables. Since the recession hit, the price has just plummeted.”
“So it’s important for the community to understand that everyone has to help with this effort because we can’t pay people to do it. We would lose money,” she added.
Weeks said Best Friends needs volunteers to work in marketing, as aluminum bin attendants and people to pick up recyclables on the routes and bring them to the appropriate facilities.
“We need your support, your aluminum cans and fuel for weekly route pickups,” she said.
She would like volunteers to go online to find the best prices for the products.
The cell phones can be refurbished and given to soldiers and missionaries, or melted down for their plastics and metals, Fehr said.
“We’re doing a double donation — we’re helping other non-profits, we’re helping the Earth and we’re helping the landfill in our community,” she said.
Weeks said recycling takes so much less energy to make a refurbished project.
“It takes 95 percent less energy to make a recycled aluminum can than getting it out of the ground,” she said.
Weeks said G & G Recycling processed 112.3 tons of aluminum in 2008 alone and that Best Friends Mentoring has collected 12.7 tons of aluminum to date.
Fehr tells college students, “A 1,000 years from now, you can dig up the landfill and your cell phone and ink jet will look exactly the way it looks today.”
“By working together as a community, we are working to beautify our city and do the right thing by recycling what we need,” said weeks.
Fehr estimates Best Friends averaged a profit of $4,500 per year over the last four years.
“Now, at this level, we’re hoping to get more money, but we are also seeing the price drop significantly in all the markets. We’re doubled the ink jets and cell phones, but we’re getting the same amount of money. We hope the community continues to be supportive,” said Fehr. “You need to recycle; you need to help the community. People don’t realize when they throw away an ink jet; you could be throwing away $5.”
Fehr said now is a perfect time to volunteer or to give a donation for gasoline.
“An outdoor person may love to hop in our pickup and pick up once a week or every other week,” she said.
“If you’re picking up a bag, you can see how clean you are leaving the city. You really are making a difference,” added Weeks. “Who wants to see liter? You can make a difference in such a small way.”
Fehr said all proceeds go into the Best Friends Mentoring Program, which provides mentors for children in southwestern North Dakota.
She said the recycling started as a fundraising project in 2001.
“It has grown and grown. We want to let people know you’re not only helping the community, beautifying the earth and saving the landfills, but you are also helping our program and helping our kids,” she said.
For more information, call 701-483-8615.