West Ranch High School seniors hope to increase recycling, raise funds

Peter Suh, left, and Jayden Barnholtz, right, sort donated recyclables Sunday afternoon. September 27, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

With Santa Clarita Valley recycling centers closing down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and nonprofits in need more than ever, two West Ranch High School seniors launched a new service to increase recycling and support local donations. 

Peter Suh and his friend Jayden Barnholtz started Recycling 4 Recovery earlier in the pandemic, when the “Safer at Home” order kept many residents indoors and away from recycling centers to help prevent the spread of the virus. 

“We started it a couple of months ago when the quarantine started, and that’s when we noticed something,” said Suh. “Many of our neighbors were throwing their recyclables in their curbside blue bins because no one would go to the recycling centers, and that’s when we thought, ‘What if we turn those unwanted items for cash and give it to nonprofits?’” 

Jenine Mariano, left, sorts through bags of bottles and cans at a recycling center Sunday morning as Christine Riel assists. September 27, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

That’s when the two students kicked off their efforts, going door-to-door to pick up their neighbors’ recyclables, according to Barnholtz. 

Fast forward five months, and the two have gathered an estimated $2,500 with a collection of about 60,000 recyclables. Their next step is to register Recycling 4 Recovery as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit to formally donate funds to SCV organizations, such as Family Promise of Santa Clarita and Single Mothers Outreach, Suh said.

Besides donating straight to Recycling 4 Recovery, residents can request a pickup of their recyclables via a text message and leave the items at the doorstep for volunteers to properly recycle them rather than let them end up in landfills. 

“Recycling is now more important than ever, because the 10 hottest years ever were recorded within the last 20 years,” reads Recycling 4 Recovery’s website. “Recycling helps reduce greenhouse emissions and saves Earth’s finite resources.” 

While the service was born out of the pandemic, Suh and Barnholtz said they see this being offered beyond the health crisis. 

“It’s possible that we may shift our organization down the line, but the simple act of recycling is important now more than ever, and will always be needed (in) some form or the other. And we want to be there to help people do that, while helping the community through donations.”

For more information, visit www.r4r.earth

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