Beauty brigade freshens up campus

Statue of Liberty made from recycled plastics at Terracycle in Trenton.
Statue of Liberty made from recycled plastics at Terracycle in Trenton.

By Johanna Blume

Two years ago, they began.

The “beauty brigades” started in every residence hall bathroom on Rider’s campus. Green buckets, adorned with pictures of cosmetic packaging and various personal hygiene bottles accompanied by a list of accepted empty containers, mysteriously appeared in both men’s and women’s restrooms. The only other signal for the fate of these empty bottles was a logo that read “TerraCycle.”

The founder of TerraCycle, entrepreneur and environmentalist Tom Szaky, was a special speaker for Rider in 2008. He dropped out of Princeton University and founded the global company known as TerraCycle, which upcycles packaging and products that are typically difficult to recycle. Not only does the company give new life to trash, but it is also creative and unique in its expression. Over 12,000 cosmetic containers have been collected from Rider’s campus, which TerraCycle then upcycled into outdoor furniture.

Melissa Greenberg, sustainability manager, said Rider’s involvement in the brigade aims “to raise awareness about recycling and that items like shampoo bottles can carry on a life when we are done with them. It shows innovation and sends a message about seeing items in a reusable way and not trash for a landfill.”

The 10 eco-reps, seven on the Lawrenceville campus and three on the Westminster campus, have seen growth in the brigade throughout the years, with major contributions coming from the sororities and the performing art students who live in Ridge House. The beauty brigade is an easy way for students to become more aware of their actions and how those actions impact the world, eco-reps say.

“Students participate in the TerraCycle beauty brigade because it’s really easy,” said senior geoscience major Steve Schwartz. “The effort is so successful because they feel like they are directly a part of a new, innovative method of upcycling. It’s awesome that Rider offers so many new ways for students to be sustainable.”

Since establishing the partnership with TerraCycle, Greenberg and the eco-reps have no plans to stop. They hope students will check out those green buckets in their bathrooms and join in the brigade.

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