Recycle, Wrap It

By Jeri Weiss

Here’s a quick quiz: 1. What happens to the packaged snacks second graders decide not to eat? 2. What do hotels do with the half rolls of toilet-paper and half bottles of shampoo you leave behind? 3. Where does uneaten food, including food still in wrappers, end up after a conference ends.

You guessed it: these items end up in the trash.

If you’re anything like me, this kind of waste makes you want to eat food when you’re already full and tote slimy shampoo bottles across the country when you leave a hotel. But a group called Rock and Wrap It Up! has come up with a better solution. And recently this group, along with the Boston Bruins and National Hockey League was recognized by EPA at the Boston Garden.

During the 2010-11 season, the Boston Bruins donated 3,796 meals to the Boston Rescue Mission, keeping about 2.5 tons of food from being thrown out)

In honor of America Recycles Day Nov. 15, EPA teamed up with the Bruins, the New Jersey Devils and the NHL to recognize the program in which the Bruins donate prepared but unused, safe edible food to the Boston Rescue Mission and help to feed needy people while also accomplishing an important environmental service. NHL teams across the country recycle more than 105 tons of food, giving out 163,000 meals in North America.
Food donation is so simple, it’s hard to imagine what took us so long. It has little or no program start-up cost, and provides needed food to hungry people.

Rock and Wrap it Up began at the Jones Beach Theater in New York, when the manager agreed to give away rather than throw away food left over by a band. The organization quickly grew to include theaters across the country, then schools, hotels and sports venues.

Since 1991, Rock and Wrap it Up has given more than 250 million pounds of food. Among the the hotel groups participating are the Langham and Lenox hotels in Boston.

Rock and Wrap It Up’s newest project is Hungerpedia.com, an online database of charitable organizations. Any anti-poverty organization that wants to be on the list can send information in through a straightforward online application and individuals can also get involved through the website.

The cliché is never more true than when it comes to food waste– your trash is truly someone else’s treasure.

Rock It and Wrap It Up (http://www.rockandwrapitup.org/)

About the author: Jeri Weiss works in EPA’s New England regional office, in Boston. She is one of the region’s experts on recycling and waste management issues.

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