Earthub: The Beginning
Updated: Jan 25
When I wake up in the morning, the birds are not chirping yet, the sky is dark. Whether it is 2018 or 2022, my first stop is the gym where I have one hour to myself. In some cases I'm on my phone during this hour catching up on emails, preparing Earthub posts, writing out paragraphs for our volunteer 'How To' sheets, etc. but in other cases, this is my 1 hour to zone it all out. The hour comes to an end, always quicker than anticipated, and then the next stop is either University or work...depending what year we're talking here. Just when the 16 hour day is assumed to come to a close, I come home and there are Earthub items to be sorted, emails to be answered, or research to be done.
The idea of Earthub crossed my mind in 2018. In this year and the preceding years, I was an avid recycler and money saver. My environmentalism stems from a family of low consumption. I was taught from a very young age to save all of my money to travel around this beautiful Earth and that has always been hardwired in my mind.
When I would see something in perfect condition go to waste, it would eat away at me. It was essentially throwing out money which was something I couldn't bear the thought of! In my early 20's, my mental health issues worsened and this is where the Earthub prescription pill bottle collection unfolded. My medication piled up, as did these #5 rigid plastic bottles - in perfect condition I might add. Pleading with my pharmacy about using the same pill bottle, for the same medication, for the same person always happened with no success (always check your local pharmacy though, some will!). It didn't make sense to throw out this nearly new pill bottle (we'll chat about recycling in another post), so what options were there for reuse? Somewhere out there had to take this precious plastic. While falling down this rabbit hole, sure enough, that very place I was looking for was Matthew 25: Ministries in Ohio.
On January 1, 2019 I launched Earthub. The idea was to spread environmental awareness through my website and collect items to keep out of the landfill...the first item being used prescription pill bottles. At the time, I took on cleaning the bottles because I thought it would turn people away if they had to clean them (duh) and I paid for the shipping myself. In the first 4 months of Earthub, I had a staggering collection of 104 pill bottles which costed $17.81 to ship. [NOTE: in present day Earthub, pill bottles must be donated clean with a monetary donation to cover the shipping - we now recieve over 50,000 bottles a year].
As the news of this collection spread, it was evident I was not the only one who saw this as an issue. A simple Facebook post had a reach of over 140,000 people and the next thing you know, prescription pill bottle email inquiries were coming from near and far...New Zealand being the furthest location. Another item I collected for Earthub at this time was crayons. I worked at many restaurants and due to sanitary reasons, the kids crayons were often only used once. I started melting down these crayons into new crayons then donating them to a local community centre.
Just when Earthub started to gain major traction, the unthinkable happened. The whole world shutdown and the thought of reuse was an outrage, given the circumstances. During this time, I took many walks around the neighbourhood to get fresh air while we were all on lockdown. Naturally, I caught myself observing everyone's recycling bins and wondering what else could stay out of the landfill. The items I saw the most were egg cartons and shoeboxes. Speaking to a local food bank, egg cartons were needed to distribute eggs that they received in trays. There were now 3 items for reuse on the Earthub collection list and there was no stopping the list from growing.
A sustainable community
Earthub grew with more collection items on the list and many drop-off locations to bring these items. This could not be done without the like-minded individuals who have made Earthub what it is today. We are not registered as a non-profit or charity. No one is getting paid for the hours they put into Earthub (including myself). It is truly a community of individuals who want to take action towards a sustainable planet. From the outside looking in, the process may seem simple...collect some items that would otherwise go to the landfill and distribute them to someone who can use them. But it really is so much more! There are email inquiries to be answered in each Chapter, flyers to be made that are tailored to each city with their specific collection items, the processing of items (counting, sorting, etc.), social media content to post, fundraisers to plan, end users to recruit for the influx of items...the list goes on. The volunteers help me with all of this and the Items to Keep Out of the Landfill Program would not be possible without their help. On top of all these tasks comes the research and planning. What could Earthub become and how much further could we take sustainability in our own hands?
After the explanation of Earthub in an interview, the interviewer always asks..."Why do you do this?"
The time and money put into Earthub is always questionable as there is no money being made - call me a bad businesswoman. I push myself to constant burnout trying to accomplish tasks in my everyday life and then on top of that I push myself even harder to save the planet. But why? It's my passion, it's my life, it's my duty. If you have the capability to change something, do it. We are in an environmental crisis right now...and have been for years. You have to decide how hard you want to fight. And man, am I a fighter :)