It's Hip to Recycle

There's no sense in preaching to teenagers about picking up litter — they'd rather get TRASHed, according to Eric Ritz, executive director of Los Angeles-based Global Inheritance.

TRASHed is a waste education program that targets youths at hip venues, such as the X Games sports event, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., and the Warped Tour, a punk-rock music tour.

According to Ritz, he became aware of how much trash is created at large events based on his work in the concert promotion industry. He also saw those youth-centric venues as opportunities to increase waste awareness and to get the new generation involved in recycling.

Ritz recognized that kids typically don't like being told what to do, and he wanted a program name less stuffy than “trash education.” So about a year and a half ago, he developed the concept for TRASHed.

Working with Global Inheritance, the umbrella organization over TRASHed, Ritz says he is inspiring young people “to get involved on the level they feel comfortable with.”

The program's activities are based on the event and audience, but often include a recycling store and recycling bins designed by artists or celebrities. The store, which only accepts recyclable bottles as payment, carries items that are not available at other vendors. At the winter X Games, for instance, recyclers could buy items ranging from stickers to an autographed skateboard deck or bike. TRASHed also premiered recycling bins created by the late journalist Hunter S. Thompson, Mark Hoppus of the band Blink-182 and professional snowboarder Tricia Byrnes, among others. A gallery of 100 bins was on display at Coachella in April.

Ritz believes the program's message is particularly important in areas that do not have as strong of a recycling culture as the West Coast. He cites the example of last year's Voodoo Music Festival in New Orleans, where he says concert-goers were very supportive.”

National and international venues have shown steadily increasing interest in collaborating with the program since it debuted, Ritz says. With limited funding from Global Inheritance, Ritz usually looks for partners or events themselves that are willing to sponsor a booth or display. To raise money, TRASHed also sells the decorated recycling bins and creates original bin designs for office buildings, cities and sports teams.

Ritz believes TRASHed has been successful for a simple reason. “People want to do good and create a healthier lifestyle,” he says.

To view a gallery of the bins that were on display at Coachella, visit www.fashionpeace.com/trashed.