Alpha Phi Omega (APO) is WashU’s community service fraternity. Last spring, members started a program to collect granola and protein bar wrappers. The project keeps foil-lined wrappers out of the landfill. Most recycling companies, including WashU’s provider, do not accept foil-lined wrappers because they are too costly to sort. By having participants pre-sort the waste, TerraCycle is able to sell the recycled material and donate proceeds to charity. APO selected charity: water as a partner organization. Proceeds go toward the development of well projects that provide clean water to communities with a high risk of water-related illnesses and deaths.
The project began a year ago with one collection bin in Bear’s Den. More recently, APO members have added bins in Olin Library and the Village. Members are also working to add locations to better reach students in the places where they tend to snack. Some students have already started collecting wrappers in their dorms or apartments. Josh, a senior living off-campus, stores his wrappers in a bag before taking them to campus. “I sometimes have granola bars for breakfast, plus protein bars after I go to the gym,” he shared. “Every few weeks, I’ll have a full grocery bag’s worth to bring to one of the bins. I feel pretty accomplished every time I drop off my wrappers. It’s much better than putting them in landfill, and I think it really makes a difference.”
Every six wrappers recycled raises enough money to provide one week of clean water to someone previously without access. APO has collected several pounds worth of wrappers and estimates that it has earned 18 months worth of clean water thus far.