Recycle Chicken provides a new meaning to the word "trash"

Recycle Chicken proves that trash you might not consider recycling, like candy wrappers, brake fluid and even human hair, can all be recycled, repurposed or resold. Second Wave writer Julia Woehrer interviewed RecycleChicken founder Kelly Ignace to find out what, exactly, people can do with their trash.
Northwest Michigan Second Wave: What does a chicken have to do with recycling?
Kelly Ignace: Well, chickens eat a lot of leftovers. But seriously, I did not have this in mind when naming the site. It's just a fun, engaging name.
NMSW: When you first started RecycleChicken, what was the interest level from the community and local businesses for this type of service? How has it grown over the years?
KI: It was very easy to get the attention of the public and businesses with a name like RecycleChicken. Since launching, RecycleChicken has moved into Oakland and Wayne counties in southeast Michigan.
Recycle Chicken categories include household, car/boat/motor, health and medical, electronics, farm and garden, construction and demolition, traditional recyclable and the odd and impossible.

NMSW: Which of these is the most popular and why do you think it has been the most popular?
KI: Electronics has been the most popular, followed by household with the odd and impossible following closely behind. E-waste is huge in our present culture. It makes sense to me that it be No. 1. Household…well, that's where we generate the largest variety of waste items, so that makes sense too. As for odd and impossible, I think it ranks high for the curiosity factor alone.
NMSW: What are the most common items you see people want to recycle but cannot via "curbside" recycling? What do these items then get recycled into or what are they repurposed for?
KI: Televisions, computer monitors, household batteries. These items consistently rank at the top of items searched on the site. These are generally not repurposed items, but items that are actually getting dismantled, with the various materials being recycled.
NMSW: Was your family a proponent of recycling when you were growing up?
KI: My family was very frugal, but recycling programs didn't exist where I lived until I was in college. My parents loved antiques, though, and rehabbing junk was a regular part of our life. We always saw ways to reuse what we had. I still have a desk lamp that my dad and I pulled out of the old dump. He bought me what I needed to fix it and gave me the tools to get it done. I've had a lust for rust ever since.
NMSW: What was the most innovative project you have seen made out of recycled items?
KI: Oh goodness--that's a hard one. I have seen some amazing things. But I think the most amazing ideas have come from my 12-year-old daughter, Anja. She is a genius at repurposing little objects into miniature items, rooms and worlds for her little play people. She is amazing.
Also, check out the City Museum in St. Louis.
NMSW: In your view, how has Recycle Chicken impacted the culture of recycling in Northwest Michigan?
KI: Well, my hope is that in addition to expanding the idea of "what's recyclable" that, RecycleChicken has lightened the idea of recycling and made it easier and less of an environmentally elitist thing to do.
NMSW: What local benefits do you see in your community as a result of Recycle Chicken and the growing interest in recycling?
KI: I think the awareness level has been raised. The tagline says, "Recycling Beyond Curbside." For many years, our thinking has been limited to recycling at the curb or a traditional drop-off location. Recycling can be and is so much more than that.
NMSW: Can you estimate the percentage of trash you think the average person throws away that can be recycled through businesses and organizations like those listed on your web site?
KI: Well, the businesses listed on my website include traditional recycling providers like American Waste here in northern Michigan. American Waste diverts approximately 70 percent of their collected waste from landfilling, so if RecycleChicken adds to that and everyone in the area participated, I believe we could be up above 90 percent.
Julia Woehrer is a freelance writer and photographer. She attended the School of Art and Design at Northern Michigan University where she concentrated in photography and minored in journalism. She volunteers at a local no-kill cat shelter and enjoys spending time with her cats, Bella and Macy.
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