[Photos by Camera Famosa Photography.]
On Saturday, Oct. 21, retired teachers Art and Julie Holmberg, with a committee of 6-8 people and the help of the environmental class at Saratoga High School taught by Jody Visconti, and the Honor Society, among many others, came together to create Saratoga Recycles Day.
From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., roughly 500 cars came through and donated everything from electronics, metals, bicycles, small appliances, and textiles such as hats, towels, clothes, and rags, in any condition. Some textiles were recycled and some were redistributed. They shared the proceeds with the Saratoga High School clubs.
Mayor Joanne Yepsen proclaimed it Recycling Day.
Upstitch, a company in Albany, collected crochet needles, yarn, fabrics, sewing notions and sewing baskets to help educate people in impoverished areas and help them learn those skills.
Starting late last winter, the committee began to volunteer their time and organize the event, which included the vendors JGL Recycling in Colonie, American Clothing Company in Glens Falls, Bike Toga in Saratoga and Upstitch.
“It began with reading an article about Bethlehem. Dan Rein was named recycler of the year and so I looked on the website and saw what they did and how much they gathered. We patterned this after the Bethlehem program that has been recycling and having a recycling day for the past four to five years,” Art Holmberg explained.
“This was a very cooperative effort with Saratoga Springs Central School District. It started off with just environmental classes lending a hand and turned into the Honor Society helping. The students primarily helped with textiles and unloading cars,” Holmberg said.
Skidmore College students developed a pamphlet that talked about all of the places you can bring your recycling products in the local area, listing what they accept, addresses, etc.
“In general I go to Weibel Avenue transfer station and see what people throw down into the landfill and I just shudder when I see what’s been thrown in there that could be recycled and reused,” Holmberg said.
“There’s so much in recycling and reusing that we need to do more of as Americans and particularly in Saratoga,” Julie Holmberg added.
One hundred backpacks were collected for Shelters of Saratoga; 11,500 pounds of clothes were collected, and 89 bicycles were collected with Levi Rogers arranging the bike station and doing some repairs on site.
Bike Toga took 25 bikes to repair and then redistribute to the people of the community at a very low cost, and seven people exchanged bikes on the spot.
The Backstretch Employee Service Team (B.E.S.T.) took 12 bikes to keep on hand for next season. They collected a great deal of textiles as well.
Statistically speaking, Americans generate about 84 pounds of clothing every year and 70 percent of that material goes into a landfill, taking years to break down.
The committee members have already planned the event for next year, to take place on Oct. 20, 2018.
“We were so encouraged by the community’s response, we were very thrilled,” Julie Holmberg said.
“Start packing things up for next year. Eventually, with enough help and support, we could do this twice a year. It was a shot in the dark, but we succeeded,” added her husband.