The Consistory first started talking about collecting plastic caps to be recycled into a park bench in June of 2015 after hearing how the Four Winds Garden Club of Elkhart did it. Then we decided to seriously start collecting in August 2015.
We had people of all ages donating caps, including 10 children, people from Brentwood Senior Living and Eastlake Terrace Assisted Living as well as friends and members of St. John’s UCC. One lady had her daughter in Ohio saving caps; another lady went to see her family in another state and they gave her a lot of caps to donate to us. I want to thank ALL of you who saved caps. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Collecting the caps was only part of the job. Next we had to sort out the ones that couldn’t be used. Lids made with metal were not acceptable, but Denny knocked out the metal centers along with the plastic rings, making them ok to donate. Lids from fast food restaurants weren’t allowed as well as any lids larger than 8 inches in diameter; a few larger lids were cut in fourths. It wasn’t till later that we found out that medicine bottles were acceptable if the labels were taken completely off. Some labels came off easily, but most had to be soaked for 24 hours in professional strength adhesive remover. As you can guess, I didn’t let the children help with that part and I wore gloves and a mask when I work on that. After a number of months, I decided the medicine bottles weren’t worth the extra trouble, so we stopped collecting them.
After the caps and lids were sorted, they were weighed and washed, about 2 to 3 lbs a day. We put them on old dehydrator trays to dry for 24 hours. Then we put them into 55 gallon trash bags. My two grandsons helped with the sorting, weighing and washing. I admit I sometimes got bored with putting the lids on the trays and started making patterns and later spelling out words with bottle caps.
In 2016, I contacted Green Tree Plastics, where the benches are made, to register our church officially. They told me on average it takes 2 years for a group to get enough caps to make a bench. The bench we wanted had a back and was 6 feet long. We needed 400 lbs of caps plus $225.00; if we wanted the boards colored it was $50.00 extra.
The Consistory then had to decide where the bench would go. We talked about several places. We decided on Eastlake Terrace because we wanted a place where the bench would be used and not just looked at. The activity director at Eastlake Terrace said they had just been talking about buying a bench or two and said the residents would really appreciate one.
By the end of May 2017, we had roughly 425 lbs of plastic. I wanted the extra in case my scales were off or if I had made any mistakes. I worried that we would be short 1 or 2 lbs so Jan added a few more.
Jan made an appointment for our caps to be delivered June 22, 2017 to Green Tree Plastics in Evansville, In. The church rented a cargo van. Denny and George loaded the 9 large bags into the van; Jan and George drove the van to Evansville.
At Green Tree Plastics, employees unloaded the bags and dumped the caps into a very large box. The fact that it filled the box was a good sign we had enough caps. They also said that the medicine bottles had the best quality of plastic when I thought it wasn’t worth it. We ended up with 448 lbs total.
Employees loaded the bench into the van. The Adamson’s brought the bench home. George and Denny unloaded it under the tree near the parking lot at Eastlake Terrace.
It’s nice to hear that the residents use it a lot. They walk around the parking lot to get some exercise stopping to rest on the bench. We had one of our Prayer Shawl meetings outside where we sat on the bench. On Sunday mornings after church our members have been trying it out. My hope is that you will come check it out if you haven’t already. You might be surprised at how sturdy it is. A date hasn’t been set yet, but we hope to have a dedication service soon. Everyone is invited to come. Hope to see you soon