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SUNY Canton students recycling for a cause

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CANTON — Students involved with SUNY Canton’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity are redeeming plastic items to fund the building of houses in St. Lawrence County.

From plastic yogurt, sour cream, cheese and butter containers to empty toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes and mouthwash bottles, the items are redeemable through TerraCycle, a recycling company in Trenton, N.J.

SUNY Canton’s chapter adviser, JoAnne M. Fassinger, who is the vice president of Raquette Valley Habitat for Humanity, said she found the company’s website in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine article, and it turned out to be a gold mine for her students.

With dozens of different recyclable categories, such as personal care and beauty product containers and wrappers, juice pouches and deodorant containers, the website gave ideas of what items can be redeemed for money.

The students started collecting these items in the residence halls on campus. They then give the items to Ms. Fassinger, who boxes them up and ships them to TerraCycle.

“All I have to do is download the shipping label from their website and I can ship the items in cardboard boxes,” she said. “They give us a penny or two for each of the items. Sometimes there’s a weight constraint on the items, and the box will have to weigh a certain amount or they won’t give us anything for them.”

The pennies can add up quickly, according to Ms. Fassinger. “So far we’ve raised $276 with the miscellaneous recyclables,” she said.

Melissa M. Cummins, a junior and president of the student organization, said the students also will go door to door collecting cans and bottles Nov. 16 in Canton, raising money for an alternative spring break in Statesboro, Ga., where 20 students will be building houses with the Habitat affiliate down there.

“They’ll be working on about two to three houses, enough to keep them busy while they’re there,” Ms. Fassinger said. “Their goal for the bottle drive is about $4,000, and they’ll get it. They’re a really motivated group of kids.”

Ms. Fassinger said the collection on campus will continue even after the March trip to Georgia. Additional money raised will fund building projects in St. Lawrence County.

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