For Upcycle Day to be approved, the Environmental Stewardship Commission devised a plan for the event and presented it to the City Manager and City Council. The plan included metrics on how much the city was spending on its yearly Junk Day, as well as savings projections and waste reduction estimates that would result by hosting their planned event.
After its approval, the commission sought partnerships with local nonprofit organizations and recycling companies to provide staffing and trucks during the event for pickup of residents’ clothing and household items. The participants saw the collaboration as a “mutual win,” both reducing city waste and promoting donations to local organizations. These organizations included John King, Goodwill, Reuse Center, TerraCycle, Eco Development, Applied Arts Center of Cincinnati, and more. The commission also used sign-up genius (an online form) to streamline recruitment of approximately 20 volunteers within the community to assist in operating the event. The program organizers observed a high level of resident engagement and willingness to participate in the event.
Leading up to Upcycle Day, the Commission conducted outreach efforts to educate residents on recycling opportunities and programs, as well as advertising the event on the city blog. They also sent emails and newsletters and spoke with high-school environmental groups and involved parents.
The first Upcycle Day lasted from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, during which residents could drive to a central location and drop off items for donation. It was located in a public parking lot, minimizing administrative costs. However, as the event grew in popularity in the following years, the commission now reserves a city park with a large parking lot for the event. During the first event, city police monitored traffic as residents brought in their goods to be donated. To ensure equal access for those unable to haul large items to the event site, residents were able to contact event volunteers in advance for direct item pickup from their homes.
This event was cost-free to the City of Wyoming and the Environmental Stewardship Commission. Participating nonprofit organizations and recycling companies, such as Goodwill and Reuse Center, provided paid staff and trucks to aid in donation collection and transportation. Additionally, the event has the potential to reduce city costs. The traditional Junk Day entails extra trash collection fees for the city, up to $17,000 for the one-day event. By reducing the amount of trash collected on Junk Day, the city was able to reinvest funds to create a small budget for the Environmental Stewardship Commission, which previously functioned without funding.
The idea for a community-wide upcycle event was pitched to the Environmental Stewardship Commission in 2018. After experiencing some delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the first Upcycle Day event was hosted on September 11th, 2020. The following year’s event occurred in April 2021, and the Commission just completed its most successful Upcycle Day yet in April 2022.