A few weeks ago I wrote about the Atayne investor dinner in my “What Keeps You Up at Night?” (June 25) blog. Since then, things have kicked in to high gear. Following that meeting, substantial seed funding was secured. The call for support in my June 25 blog was answered as people showed their belief in Atayne by responding to the blog (via personal emails or comments) and by visiting the website to sign up for the email list. We are now running full steam ahead. The website is set to launch this week (as my girlfriend is pushing me to hit the magical 8-8-08 date) and sales will follow about a week later. There is not doubt this success is due in large part to the Atayne community.
On top of all of that, we took part in our first official event on Saturday, July 26 in Portland, ME. Atayne was one of the sustainability sponsors of the Zone Urban Epic (ZUE). Atayne’s participation was not your typical “plaster your logo on everything” sponsorship. No, we decided to get a bit more creative in our visibility and simultaneously do something positive for the environment.
While the ZUE entrants ran for pride, glory, and accomplishment, Team Atayne ran for trash and a cleaner environment. Following closely behind the race participants on the course, Team Atayne collected trash of all types to leave the course even cleaner than the ZUE athletes found it. Additionally, through an innovative partnership with upcycling firm TerraCycle, we had collection stations for energy bar wrappers, nutritional gel packs, swim caps, polyester-based sports apparel, bottles and cans, and more. What did we do with all this so-called trash? Not send it to a landfill! Working with TerraCycle, Atayne will use as many of those “trashed” materials to make eco-friendly products ranging from tote bags and purses to sports apparel and shoes.
Overall, Atayne’s particaption in ZUE was a great success. We made some new friends for Atayne and collected over 100 lbs of trash from the second segment of the run course (just 3 miles)! For me, it was a rather startling load and yet another wake-up call for the problem we have with waste in our society. (See my June 5 blog for more.)
These results would not have been possible without the help of some incredible volunteers. A group of 5 college students/recent grads dedicated their weekend to picking up trash. There was nothing glorious in it for them: just a free shirt and the knowledge that they did something good for the environment.
The evening before the event, Mike and I decided to provide them with a small monetary incentive. But instead of straight pay, we set it up as a competition. Might as well get into the competitive spirit of the event. We would split the group into two teams. The team that collected the most garbage would win $100. Not a ton of money, but enough to get the competitive juices flowing.
Instantly upon announcing the competition, it was on. The teams divided, and the “trash” talk began. Mike and I sat back and smiled as a group of 21 to 22 year olds got excited about the prospect of picking up trash.
Saturday morning we were out at the event bright and early. While setting up, Mike and I talked about how once the collection was over we would help the teams sort what was collected and educate them on what can be reused or recycled and what must be thrown away. This would be a great opportunity to educate this young group on being good environmental stewards.
Later that morning when the group, led by Mike, returned from their collection run they were all a bit sweaty but all were smiling ear to ear. They dropped the 9 completely full bags of trash at my feet and joyfully started telling me about their run. After several minutes they stopped, and I asked, “Okay, but who won?”
One of them quickly answered, “Who won? No one won. We all joined forces.”
This caught me by surprise, and I then noticed Mike smiling at me. On a day when we thought we would be teachers, we turned out to be the students. Without saying anything, our young volunteers reminded us that when it comes to saving our planet, we are all on the same team.