Every Saturday morning for over a year, Jamir Lopez and Nathaniel Shipp drove door to door, picking up students’ empty milk cartons, old homework, and caffeine-free soda cans. After all, the plastics, papers and aluminums weren’t going to recycle themselves.
“When I came to BYU and learned there was no recycling for students I was quite disappointed,” said Lopez, who first became a proponent of environmentalism and the recycling movement during his mission. “I served in this beautiful place,” he said, “and it just [broke] my heart to see [the] garbage in the street[s] and [the] poor water quality. That is when I decided to become an environmental guy.” Lopez focused on the issue of recycling extensively throughout college, from final projects and persuasive papers on the topic to attempting to contact and work with the One Man’s Trash recycling organization, which had by then gone out of business.
Instead of resigning himself to throwing his recyclables in the garbage, Lopez started his own small business so he wouldn’t have to. The idea—a door-to-door recycling service for students, by students—became a reality when Lopez shared it with Shipp, a coworker at BYU recycling. In August 2011, the two revamped a website that Lopez had created earlier, started an advertising campaign, and Think Green, Recycle began in earnest.
“I had no idea how to run a business,” said Lopez, “the whole thing was a great learning experience; building a website from scratch, getting a business license, a bank account, etc.” Think Green, Recycle charged around 25$ per semester per apartment, and began by providing garbage bags for the recycling. Eventually, the bags were traded for sturdy green recycling bins.
Lopez and Shipp were solely responsible for weekly pickups and delivering the recyclables, usually to the recycling bin in Kiwanis Park or the Springville Transfers Station. Their business was small, catering to between 20 and 30 apartments, but the experience, said Lopez, was worth it. “Sometimes people would leave notes for us, thanking us for the service, several times we even got treats…There were some skeptical people that thought we were crazy, but at the end [of the day] we did it…we had a great time and [a] great experience. Now I can tell my kids ‘you know when I was in college, I had a little company.’”
Think Green, Recycle is now making efforts to create a more environmentally friendly city. Since January 2013, they have stopped door-to-door pickups, instead focusing on a campaign to raise awareness about the need for recycling among the managers and owners of student housing.
“Our vision is to make recycling available for every student,” said Lopez. “We want to make it happen, [and] we are willing to share information media for proper recycling.” To spread the word, Lopez and Shipp collaborated with Taylor Meadows to put together a petition for off-campus recycling, which will be used to show student-housing managers, and others, that students want to recycle.
“Overall it was a very satisfying experience,” said Lopez, describing his experience creating and managing Think Green, Recycle. “I was able to materialize a dream, and actually help people.”
To sign the online petition for off-campus recycling availability, and learn more about Think Green, Recycle’s revised vision, go here.