Purge-A-Palooza: Scottsdale’s Call to Action for Sustainability

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            Purge-A-Palooza is an opportunity for members of the community to get rid of their hard to recycle items. Keep Scottsdale Beautiful started this event as a way to encourage residents to live more sustainable lifestyles by properly recycling their items.

            Keep Scottsdale Beautiful is an environmental non-profit that works to keep a clean, green and sustainable Scottsdale and to beautify public spaces, according to their President of the Board.

            Brad Newton, Keep Scottsdale Beautiful’s Board President, has worked diligently to make this project a success.

            “It’s kind of a one-stop-shop to recycle hard to recycle items,” Newton said.

            The event is comprised of several different organizations that have a specific type of item that they collect from visitors to recycle properly or reuse. Those who come to the event drive-through the different organizations’ trucks to drop off their goods to each specific recycler.

             In its fifth year, Purge-A-Palooza has been well-received by the community. It seems that word has spread, and more people are participating. Keep Scottsdale Beautiful helped recycle roughly 14,000 pounds of difficult to recycle items according to their final calculations of the day. According to Newton, the largest amount of cars they’ve seen at an event was around 475 cars.

            While turnout is important, he stressed that events like these are just a small step forward in promoting sustainability.

            “We need the people to come out and really help us move the dial forward and make a difference in the community,” Newton said. 

            Newton says there is a shift coming in the future for sustainability. Recycling has been the main player in people’s efforts for sustainability; however, as of late, it has become more difficult to do.

            “Recycling is going to change and it’s going to be reuse and repurpose,” Newton said.

While many of the organizations dealt with recycling products, there were a few that specialize in taking old items and repurposing them instead. 

 Gennifer Giusiana, a board member for Keep Scottsdale Beautiful, recently joined the team as a PR specialist and has worked with the recycling and repurposing organizations to make the event a success.

 “How do we repurpose what we’re doing and what we have and how do we sustain a little bit more than what we are actually doing right now?” Giusiana asked rhetorically.

Treasures 4 Teachers is an organization doing exactly that. The organization accepts donations of miscellaneous office supplies and other items and then redistributes them to teachers in Arizona. Teachers pay a yearly membership fee, which can often be waived, and can visit the stores and pick up classroom supplies for little to no cost.

Bristol DeSantis, an administrative assistant at Treasures 4 Teachers, was at Purge-A-Palooza to collect more donations.

 “We get a lot of our large recycling donors through events like this,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis says that a lot of times companies who use a lot of paper components will come to events like Purge-A-Palooza and leave them with a surplus amount of supplies. DeSantis mentioned a major company that they often work with: Shutterfly. 

“They donate palettes worth of paper to us every so often that we’re [then] able to offer to teachers for $1 for 2 inches [of paper],” DeSantis said. 

Treasures 4 Teachers was started as a way to get cheaper school supplies to under-supplied teachers. In addition to providing teachers low-cost supplies, the organization encourages them to use their “new” supplies in a way that is sustainable. One example DeSantis brought up was how they repurpose silica gel, the packs of gel beads that absorb moisture and keep items dry.

“Most people throw them away because what else would you do with them,” DeSantis said.

Silica gel beads can be found in a multitude of products and often times people just throw them away. Treasures 4 Teachers has saved 14 swimming pools worth of silica beads through their sustainability efforts, according to DeSantis. Teachers can pick up beads from one of their stores and repurpose them into different classroom items, like maracas or sensory devices for the children.

While organizations like Treasures 4 Teachers provide sustainable choices for teachers, there’s still the rest of the community who may be concerned about actions can make to lead sustainable lifestyles.

Thomas Williams, a member of the Keep Scottsdale Beautiful Board, runs the sustainability programs for the Maricopa County Community Colleges.

“Don’t try to save the world, but if you can that’s great,” Williams said.

Williams stressed that people should start implementing small sustainable efforts in their day-to-day lives before trying to tackle the larger issues. Actions as simple as taking a three-minute shower versus a 15-minute one and changing your lightbulbs out for more energy-efficient ones.

“Sustainability is the future,” Williams said. “It’s not only about caring for the environment, but it also means we have a sustainable society.”

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