ON the surface of things, a partnership between a kids entertainment property and plant fertilizer might not seem to make a lot of sense. But Chicago-based Star Farm’s goth sibling set Edgar & Ellen have a deep love of all things icky, and that makes for a match made in heaven.
The resulting initiative is a branded recycling drive with TerraCycle, which produces what is essentially liquefied warm poop made from worm-processed organic waste and packaged in recycled soda bottles. ‘Bottle Brigade’ officially kicked off in November 2006, with the distribution of branded Edgar & Ellen collection boxes into 1,450 schools across the US.
The idea is that for every 20 oz. resusable bottle kids bring in from home, their school receives US$0.05. These empties are then filled with the plant food, rebranded with TerraCycle packaging, and affixed with a tag featuring the kid donor’s name, hometown and ideas for saving the environment. The upshot is a product that’s made and packaged entirely in waste, and bottles featuring the Edgar & Ellen tags are exclusively distributed at Target.
So far, the Edgar & Ellen boxes have collected two million bottles in more than 3,000 schools and community groups, and the promotion is slated to continue running indefinitely. Above and beyond the inherent gross-out appeal that worm poop holds for kids, the promo also taps into their keen interest in environmental issues and playing a role in the green movement.
According to a study conducted by Stamford, Connecticut-based Weekly Reader Research this past April, 71% of six- to nine-year-olds are aware of global warming, and that figure climbs to 85% amongst the 10 to 12 set. Kids get 33% of their information on environmental issues from school, teachers and textbooks, followed by TV (19%), parents (16%) and the internet (13%). They also feel that recycling is the most significant way they can show their support for the environment; 73% say their families recycle newspapers, 57% recycle plastic bottles and containers, and 51% recycle glass bottles.
Star Farm co-founder and CEO Trish Lindsay first connected with TerraCycle at a Social Venture Network meeting where CEO Tom Szaky was showcasing his worm poop plant food, which Lindsay says is something that Edgar & Ellen might have created themselves.
The stars of a six-book Scholastic series (which has sold more than 425,000 copies to date) and a Nicktoons animated show for kids ages six to 12 are always coming up with new ways to reuse treasures pilfered from the junkyard next door, and Ellen finds the dump’s soil ideal for growing her pet carnivorous plant.