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St. Vincent de Paul Celebrates America Recycles Day With The Village School, Mattress Springs

Categories: Events, Environment, Recycling
Author: Sophia Bennett, Special Projects Manager
Date: Tuesday, November 15 2011
Principal Bob Kamiski shows students at The Village School how to build a mattress spring fence

"Recycle! Recycle! Recycle!"

That was the chant of children doing one of those fun, forbidden things: jumping on the bed. But this particular bed, destined for recycling, had been stripped to its springs and was sitting outside The Village School rather than in a cozy room at home.

The springs were to be wired to fence posts around the school garden at The Village School, a charter school in south Eugene. Principal Bob Kamiski kicked off the project to help celebrate America Recycles Day, the nation's only nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting recycling. 

To acquire the springs, Kamiski turned to St. Vincent de Paul's mattress recycling program. The agency will provide queen-sized springs for the entire 79-foot fence, which will be completed by student and parent volunteers later this fall.

The Village School's curriculum emphasizes sustainability, and having a garden plot at the school will be a big help. “The garden is connected to our math, science and health classes,” Kamiski says.  “Since we have a scratch kitchen we will use the garden to help students make a firmer connection to the food on their plate and the earth from which the food came.”

A fence is necessary to keep deer and dogs from damaging plants. Kamiski got the idea to build a mattress spring fence from a visit to BRING Recycling, which has a fence in their Garden of Earthly Delights. “The bedsprings have a nice look and they cover a lot of ground without a lot of labor to install,” he says.

St. Vincent de Paul is considered a world leader in mattress recycling. The agency founded the first commercially viable mattress recycling program and continues to run one of the largest programs in the country. St. Vincent de Paul has recycled over one million mattresses since 2000 and is on track to recycle 150,000 pieces in 2011.  Laid end to end, 150,000 mattresses would stretch from Portland to Seattle.

St. Vincent de Paul recycles and reuses textiles, appliances, window glass, wood, Styrofoam, books and a host of other products in addition to mattresses. The agency typically processes 90 tons of material for reuse or recycling every day.

Communities across the country have been hosting America Recycles Day awareness events and celebrations since 1997. People can find out about other America Recycles Day events by visiting their website.

Facts about mattress recycling:

  • Mattresses take up lots of space in landfills, create flammable air pockets, damage compression equipment, and can create dangerous conditions for workers
  • 85-90 percent of the contents of a typical mattress can be recycled
  • Old mattress springs can be returned to metal recycles
  • Foam from mattresses becomes carpet padding
  • Cotton is used for insulation
  • Wood is chipped and composted or burned for fuel
  • In 2009 St. Vincent de Paul got a grant to help other nonprofits establish mattress recycling programs. The Mustard Seed of Central Florida has a program up and running, and Park City Green in Bridgeport, Connecticut is well on their way to establishing a successful program.

KEZI 9 story: Eugene Students Build Fence with Mattress Springs