This 11-year-old recycling big-timer is collecting used denim and shoes on Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Environmental Sciences campus as part of the 2012 Micki Zartman Scarlet and Gray Ag Day on Friday, April 27.
Erek’s passion for recycling started in 2009 when he participated in National Geographic Kids magazine’s denim drive to benefit Cotton. From Blue to Green, an organization that recycles denim for use as insulation for housing.
“I saw an ad in my National Geographic and I like to save the planet.”, he said. “People are wasteful. The world wouldn’t be a very good place if we didn’t recycle.”
In his first year collecting, Erek recycled 1,684 pieces of denim, more than any other participant. National Geographic Kids took notice and invited Erek to Washington, D.C. for an official unveiling ceremony.
A representative from Guinness World Records was also present to declare National Geographic’s world record for the most clothing collected for recycling. Over 33,000 denim items were donated to Cotton. From Blue to Green that day.
However, Erek hasn’t stopped at recycling only blue jeans, in fact, he’s expanded into footwear as well, “I wanted to pick another item to recycle,” he continued, “You grow out of shoes rather fast when you’re my age.”
Every shoe Erek collects is donated to USAgain. USAgain is a green for-profit company that recycles or resells the shoes worldwide.
According to his website, Erek has collected 9,758 pairs of jeans and more than 3,000 pairs of shoes since 2009. “It’s gradually gotten bigger every year,” he says.
This year he wants to collect more than 5,000 denim items and 5,000 pairs of shoes. but he’s run into some logistical issues.
“We were unable to secure a corporate sponsor to help us ship the jeans to Arizona and the shoes to Chicago.” said Amy Hansen, Erek’s mother.
In the meantime, Amy said a storage company has graciously donated a storage unit until the clothing can ship.
“I hope to keep spreading the message.” Erek said. “If we don’t recycle, we’d use up all of our natural resources. We need to take care of our planet, it’s where we all live.”
–Erek is also appearing at Town Center at Levis Commons in Perrysburg, Ohio on June 2 from 12-6pm.