Earth Day is an important yearly tradition at Pragmatech – waste, recycling and the environment are our specialty and a whole week dedicated to it is like a national holiday for us!

But we’re the experts, and it’s literally part of our job to know what to do. Earth week 2017 was a productive team building experience for our office and we wanted to share it with you.

What is Earth Day, and How Did it Start?

In 1970, then Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson brought environmental concerns to public attention during a time when such sentiments were less than popular. He was inspired to act after witnessing the Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969. The idea was to bring together parties from all sides of the political spectrum in raising awareness for environmental issues.

April 22 was selected as the date because it sat right between spring break and exams. During that first Earth Day 20 million Americans came out to “the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies.“

By 1990 Earth Day was brought to the global stage and became an international tradition with hundreds of countries and hundreds of millions of participants.

Click here to learn more about Earth Day

Recycling Council of Ontario’s Give a Sh!rt Program

This year Pragmatech was inspired by the Recycling Council of Ontario’s “Give a Sh!rt” program that encourages high schools to reuse textiles and provides a grand prize of $5000 for the winner. To learn more about the program visit their website.

Why is The RCO Focusing on Textiles?

Reuse and Rewear

The reuse and rewear movement is a growing sentiment in favour of wearing used clothing. Clothes are donated or sold to stores and organizations who then distribute these items to those who needs them. Often people choose to buy used clothing rather than new items – the benefits can be significant as used clothing can be obtained very cheaply even for high quality items.

The RCO is a large organization with many programs that help raise awareness for various recyclable and reusable materials – this is one of their programs.

The Fashion industry, globalization, and population growth have all contributed to explosive growth in the textile industry – with it came a concern for the impact on our environment and the rate of disposal of our textiles. Now, more than ever, we need to be aware of the growing reuse and rewear industry and the lack of recycling options for textiles.

“That’s why RCO and Value Village have partnered to leverage our collective experience, programs, and platforms to elevate sustainability awareness and realize common goals to fully integrate principles of the circular economy in relation to textiles.

With RCO’s experience and success with the Waste-Free Lunch Challenge and Plastic Bag Grab challenge, we know first-hand that schools appreciate opportunities to integrate environmental learnings through educational opportunities and hands-on activities. Class offerings also provide more variety, which includes business, design, fashion, media arts, and environmental electives. With sustainability and climate change at peak awareness we can engage students enthusiastically with textiles reuse and recycling in new and creative ways.”

Read the full announcement here

We thought that high school students are not the only ones who can be excited about the idea of recycling and reusing textiles, and made it a focus during this year’s Earth Week at Pragmatech.

We then created a schedule of activities and goals for Earth Week 2017 and sent out an email to our team. This was our plan by day and recycling goal:

Monday April 24th

The clothing and e-waste drive; donate or recycle clothing and electronics that you are no longer using.

Textiles include:

Accessories: hats, mittens, scarves, shoes, socks, purses, wallets, backpacks, bags

Clothing: men, women, children

Kids: toys, games, puzzles, stuffed animals, books

Other Textiles: towels, sheets, blankets, pillows, curtains, tablecloths

E-waste includes:

  • Laptops, monitors, mice, keyboards
  • Cell/home phones
  • VCR/DVD players, VHS tapes, DVDs, TVs
  • Cameras, video recorders
  • Printers, fax machines
  • Speakers, stereos, turntables
  • Wires, cables, batteries
  • Toner and ink cartridges

Tuesday April 25th

We encourage everyone to bike, walk, carpool, or take public transit.

The benefits of carpooling include:

  • Reduces pollution and protects the environment
  • Reduces traffic congestion
  • Reduces stress
  • Saves money

Wednesday April 26th

From 12:00pm to 1:00pm will be lights out hour.

Its goal is to promote a greater awareness of global climate change, and the impact humans have on the environment. Lights out hour helps to remind electricity consumers that small conservation acts can lead to large benefits.

This saves metric tons of carbon dioxide being released into our atmosphere. Lights out hour helps to bring awareness of sustainability issues, and inspires action towards sustainability, beyond the hour.

Thursday April 27th

We encourage you to bring a waste-free lunch.

A waste-free lunch contains no throwaway packaging or food leftovers. Lunches are packed in servings that can be completely eaten, and packed in reusable containers.

Friday April 28th

The clothing drive and e-waste drive end, it is the last day to bring in any textiles or electronic waste.

The End Results

The entire Pragmatech team came together and participated fully in this challenge. These are our results:

Collection Weights
Textiles 221.76 kg
eWaste 67.28 kg
Batteries 18.74 kg
Toys 23.13 kg
Printer Cartridges 2.47 kg
                                   Total Weight 333.38 kg / 735 lbs

Still wondering how big of an impact do textiles really have on recycling and waste diversion? Take a look at the facts below:

  1. Globally, textile waste has increased dramatically due to the rise in clothing consumption and production: the number of new garments produced annually now exceeds 100 billion – double the amount compared to the year 2000.
  2. The World Bank estimates that textile dyeing and treatment contributes up to 17-20 per cent of total industrial water pollution.
  3. Production of new garments requires approximately one third of the world’s water resources.
  4. 1 trillion kilowatt hours are used every year by the global textile industry, which equals 10 per cent of the total carbon impact.

And for Good Measure, a Few Reasons Why Earth Day and Week are So Important

  • The amount of wood and paper that are thrown each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years
  • Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to power a 100-watt bulb for four hours
  • In North America alone, over 140 million cellphones are thrown into landfills every year. If all these cellphones were recycled, it would save enough energy to power 25,000 households for one year
  • According to Terracycle, there are 63.7 million people recycling in the world
  • Every year, the world generates 2.6 trillion pounds of garbage
  • Aluminum cans can actually be recycled and put back onto the shelf at your local grocery store in just about 2 months. You can recycle aluminum over and over again – there is really no limit to it
  • A glass container can go from a recycling bin to a store shelf in as few as 30 days

Does your company have an Earth Day or Earth Week tradition? Share with us in the comments below!


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