Project S.A.V.E. is an SFU student led initiative whose goal is to recycle pens in schools, campuses and businesses in the Lower Mainland. Lucy Lei, founder of Project S.A.V.E. studies Environmental Science and Business at Simon Fraser University.
Project S.A.V.E. Q&A
- How did you start this initiative?
The initiative began with a simple idea, connections and some determination. Once I knew I wanted to bring Staple’s recycling system into the community, I started to tap into my group of friends. I explained to them the plan to have collection boxes in secondary schools and work with the students to sort and collect writing instruments then recycle it at Staples. The plan was extremely simple, thus a small Project S.A.V.E. group comprised of me and two other friends was created in September 2016.
Progress was slow since we were inexperienced and had to build everything from scratch. However, as we spread the idea of S.A.V.E. through word of mouth, we received a lot of positive feedback. This motivated me to expand and strengthen the project internally and externally, especially after one of our members left . Guidelines, systems, objectives and committee positions were created. Once again, I reached out to my circle of friends, but this time I took it a step further by sharing the idea with my environmental science professor, Marnie Branfireun.
From that moment on, S.A.V.E. developed rapidly. We were contacted by students who wanted to volunteer and fill in committee positions and Professor Branfireun connected us with multiple SFU administrators who could help build this project. Thus, Project S.A.V.E. became an official organization.
- Why do you feel it’s important?
Personally, I have been passionate about the environment, resources and wildlife since I was young. After all, these are the necessities of survival. Unfortunately, I think most of us forget to see the big picture in life and we end up over stressing about the small details.
Even though Project S.A.V.E diverts only a small amount of materials from landfills monthly, it’s the snowball and ripple effect that matters. Gradually, we’ll begin to see the results and impact of this program as recycled and reused materials accumulate over time. After all, prevention is better than a cure. We only have one Earth, so let’s take care of it one change at a time.
More importantly, Project S.A.V.E. is valuable because of the influence it makes in the community. I think S.A.V.E. is an organization that can inspire other students to build on their own passion and ideas. To get people to think outside the box and positively contribute to their community.
- Where do you currently have recycling boxes?
As of July, we have boxes available all around SFU Burnaby, Burnaby Mountain Secondary, Burnaby North Secondary and at multiple Kumon tutor centres across the lower mainland. We will be contacting additional schools once the new school year starts.
- Where are the pens recycled?
The collected writing instruments are first sorted into three categories, reusable, unrecyclable, and recyclable. The reusables are given to staff members to be redistributed back into the community and be reused (in a container for anyone to take). Unrecyclables are disposed of appropriately and finally, the recyclables are given to Staples where they will ship it to a recycling company called Terracycle for recycling.
- How are the pens upcycled?
Occasionally, the materials are given away to be used for various art projects. However, we are uncertain about the final product that results from these materials since it depends on each artist’s creativity, time, and use of writing supplies. A couple of simple methods to upcycle pens in our daily lives are to turn them into earrings or home decor.
- How many members are in your group?
Project S.A.V.E committee is comprised of 7 core members, each with a specific position: director, secretary, finance coordinator, social media coordinator, human relations coordinator, sponsorship coordinator and operations coordinator. Other members include general volunteers which would range between 3-5, who are mostly secondary school leaders that aids in the implementation of boxes in their schools.
- If all your goals were fulfilled regarding Project S.A.V.E. what would that look like?
Project S.A.V.E. is still in the process of development, therefore there is no doubt that new objectives will arise as it expands. Currently, our general goals for this project is to increase awareness on recycling typically “non-recyclables”, reduce plastic waste in landfills and set a permanent writing instrument recycling system in Metro Vancouver.
If all goals were fulfilled, then the Lower Mainland would see these collection boxes and posters in all secondary and post-secondary schools. Students from various schools would cooperate with S.A.V.E. on operating this program and gain insight into how organizations are managed. Additionally, monthly distribution booths would pop up in post-secondary schools to redistribute back clean, reusable and ink refilled pens. Simultaneously, the booth will promote S.A.V.E., spread awareness and educate people on the new recycling system (what, where, how and why).
Lastly, occasional presentations would occur throughout the year where the S.A.V.E. committee presents and discusses with classes about current environmental issues and events. This will further boost our younger generation’s exposure to and knowledge on environmental topics and encourage sustainable living.
These goals are developed to meet the three R’s, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Presentations will encourage the reduction of natural resource usage, distribution booths allow reuse of writing supplies and collection boxes will recycle the materials.
Lucy Lei is the founder of Project S.A.V.E., a student governed environmental organization. She studies Environmental Science and Business as an undergraduate student at Simon Fraser University. Lucy’s passion and interest have been on sustainability, animal ethics and human wellness since a young age. During Secondary School, she was the President and founder of the SPCA club and had organized numerous events for charities such as the Canadian Cancer Society, BC SPCA and UNICEF Canada. Her previous experiences expanded her knowledge and led her to start up Project S.A.V.E. with a vision of creating a self-sustainable world.