In September of 2022, Chloe Linsmeier, Marketing Manager at Advanced Blending Solutions (ABS) in Wallace, Michigan, participated in cleaning up a section of River Bend Park along the Swannanoa River in Asheville, North Carolina. The event, attended by Chloe and about 50 other colleagues, was organized by PLASTICS’ Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) Community Support Task Group, as part of PLASTICS’ 2022 Annual Fall Meeting.
Chloe returned home to Michigan excited about signing up ABS as a PLASTICS Clean Up Champion company. “We hadn’t done anything at ABS in the past with regard to a clean up,” she said. “Our leadership was really excited about the idea of the event and giving back.”
Meeting a different kind of challenge
Interestingly, Chloe and her ABS tream soon found themselves up against something of a unique problem in the world of environmental community outreach: apparently, they live in a uniquely clean corner of America.
“It was difficult to find a park in our area to clean up,” Chloe said. “I connected with our local Parks Director, and she said she was losing sleep at night finding a park that would be good for us.”
It seems Michigan’s Menominee County parks don’t have an issue with litter.
“That’s a great thing,” Chloe said, “but in terms of our event, I was panicked. I volunteered to be a Clean Up Champion, so we had to find a location to clean!”
Making a backyard discovery
Chloe eventually found a solution very close to home, on the large, wooded acreage surrounding Advanced Blending Solutions: The team basically cleaned up their own backyard. “It was interesting to see the amount of waste that was being contributed to our area without even noticing,” Chloe said. “Things like cardboard and plastic film that had blown away in the wind.”
It should be noted that not everything collected was generated by ABS. The property includes a section that runs along Highway 41, where the crew retrieved trash discarded from passing vehicles. Still, Chloe said the experience was eye-opening, giving rise to the idea of making the clean up an annual event.
Adding value to an experience
Joining ABS for the clean up were students and teachers from the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department of nearby Menominee High School. In addition to putting in some much-appreciated work on what turned out to be a rainy day, the students enjoyed some lunch, received t-shirts, and got a tour of ABS, featuring some lab demonstrations. “A lot of the students didn’t know what we do here at ABC,” Chloe said. “Now, they could consider a career in their own community.”
Drew Buyarski, Principal at Menominee High School, was happy to have his students involved with the clean up event. “Anything positive the school can do, we like we like to get out there,” he said. “When Chloe contacted me, I reached out to our CTE director and got the whole thing rolling with kids who are interested in manufacturing industry jobs.” He added, “It’s also good for the students to have a sense of pride, knowing that that they’re giving back to the community, doing something that’s not just for themselves.”
Principal Buyarski added that the experience was also just plain fun, as ABS set the event up as a good-natured competition to see who could collect the most trash. Members of the winning student team received an engraved ABS Yeti travel container.
Congratulations to Advanced Blending Solutions! Their organization went from never having held a clean up, to hosting an event that was a practical success (28 bags of trash, weighing in at 316 pounds) and also opened up possibilities for the lives of students within their community.