Yep, our Oregon community is a passionate one, especially when it comes to recycling! Until somewhat recently, we were diligently separating our recycling by material, plastic grade, or shape, with faith that our local waste management system could help us do the best for the planet. But three years ago, the recycling market changed considerably here in Oregon and across the US. We could see recycling shifts on the horizon.
Here at Springfield Creamery, we watched as local recycling opportunities for HDPE 2 and polypropylene 5 plastics became unavailable overnight. This meant the only option for your empty Nancy’s container was the landfill. That concept was never going to fly with us or our loyal Nancy’s consumers. Knowing that our community was steadfast and dedicated to recycling Nancy’s containers, we talked to local municipalities and any recycling resources we could strategize with. We were hopeful that recycling opportunities would eventually return, but we definitely didn’t want Nancy’s containers going to the landfill in the meantime. Soon, we partnered with Denton Plastics, a Portland company that would take our clean containers and grind them into resin for second-use products like decking, playground equipment and flowerpots. Things were looking up!
NANCY’S FIRST RECYCLING ROUND-UP…ONTO SOMETHING GOOD!
A quick week later on Earth Day, we went “grass roots” and did a pop-up event in our Creamery parking lot. The flowers in our Creamery Garden were in full bloom and the wind blew our tablecloth off, but the movement that blossomed out of that day was incredible. About 25 folks came to that first event and brought their collection of clean Nancy’s containers and lids as well as immense gratitude, comradery, and support. Even though it came together quickly, we realized that with community involvement, we’d managed to do something really significant. Not only had we given a huge number of Nancy’s containers a second life, but we made very personal connections with folks in our community who had supported us for nearly 60 years. It was a win-win from the start and if you were one of those folks that came to our early Recycling Round-Ups, thank you! You sparked the momentum for us.
We’ve already held 22 (and counting) Recycling Round-Up events in our local community. You’ve brought us your Nancy’s containers on foot, by bike, wagon, motorcycle or by driving through and popping your trunk. Our family has gratefully collected them as we lathered on sunscreen, dripped in rain ponchos and yes, we wore our masks and used hand sanitizer too! These days our collections are serious business, with over 125 of you stopping by each time, bringing overflowing bags and boxes of Nancy’s containers along with stories, greetings, and news of day. Each event results in about 800 pounds of Nancy’s containers collected. In fact, we’ve collected nearly 30,000 pounds of recyclables to date (holy moly)!
If you’re interested in joining us, sign up to receive emailed updates on future events in Eugene, Oregon. We’d love to meet you and have you bring us your collection of Nancy’s containers!
CAN’T ALWAYS RECYCLE? ALL IS NOT LOST – REDUCE AND REUSE
Never fear, there are lots of ways to support the effort and reduce nonrecyclable materials in our landfills:
- Waste not, want not. The best way to conserve energy and natural resources is buying only what you need and cutting down on unnecessary and disposable packaging.
- Whenever possible, keep recycling! Stay informed and check in with your city, county, or recycling service provider for any changes to your curbside collection service.
- Get it right the first time by learning which items are accepted by your recycling service and placing them (clean) into recycling tubs. If in doubt, find out!
- Upcycle for the win! Over the years you’ve all shared lots of fantastic ideas for reusing Nancy’s containers(aka: “Nancysware”). Here are a few of our favorites:
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator and freezer, including garden tomatoes and broth for recipes like Tortilla Soup with Sour Cream
- Freeze water to use as ice blocks in the cooler when camping
- Use as food and water dishes for pets at home and on the road
- Stock your bike or car with extra containers for spontaneous berry picking, then head home to whip up a No-Bake Oregon Berry Cheesecake
- Store supplies for crafting, gardening, and building
- Plant seedlings for a home garden
So, for three years running, a pop-up event that we started as a band-aid (and resembles a lemonade stand) has become a longer-term solution with heart-warming benefits beyond its original purpose. While it doesn’t immediately solve the long-term national problem with plastics and recycling opportunities, it’s inspiring to see how so many of us are willing to get creative and find new ways to recycle and reuse. Please know that as a company and as good humans, we’re continuing to look for alternative, sustainable packaging and we’re hopeful that 2022 will be our year! In the meantime, we love sharing time and ideas while doing our best to make a difference together. We’re always looking forward to the next Nancy’s Recycling Round-Up and we hope to see you there!
Stay healthy, be well and keep recycling – we’re grateful,
❤️ – The Kesey Family & all the folks at Springfield Creamery