Saturday, June 26, 2010

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I have to thank Jenny Platt for writing about us for both and!

If the links aren't working, I will copy them here.
Here's the article:

Local Mom Turns your Trash into Cash

By Jenny Platt

Like many parents, Kim Rily wondered how she and her husband would provide for their two young children on a single salary when the company she worked for unexpectedly handed her a pink slip last March. But instead of turning to despair, she embraced her newfound time by starting the Five Million Can Project.

Rily, a self-described “youngish mom who is trying to take care of her kids’ future and the planet too,” has created a blog to document the progress of her goal: to recycle five million cans (and bottles), using the CRV (California Redemption Value) she collects for her kids’ future college educations.

“I try to pick up trash when I see it outside,” Rily explains, “and I actually started having discussions with my husband and friends where I said, ‘well, a can is worth a nickel, or sometimes a dime, and wouldn’t you pick up a nickel if you saw one?’”

It was actually the trash left behind at a movie theater that inspired this mom to become the “Can Mom”. Recalling that eventful night, Rily shares, “people just left their bottles all over the theater and I knew they weren’t going to be recycled – they would just be thrown away. So I started picking them up…there were so many juice and water bottles littering the theater that my husband and I couldn’t hold them all.”

But while she began doing the public’s dirty work at the theater, Rily didn’t come up with the idea for her blog until the following day. Collecting miniscule unemployment checks, she admits, “I was kind of freaking out about how much things were costing, like daycare. The idea of transferring something seemingly difficult to earn, like $250,000 for two college educations into something easy, like finding cans, came together. It took me a while to get up the guts to make the blog…but after I made it, I really didn’t want it to be something I failed to pursue.”

Rily now carries collection bags in both her purse and her car, just in case any extra “nickels” are lying around, whether it’s at the park, in the parking lot, or even by the side of the road. “The hardest part to get over is the idea that people are going to stare at me because I’m reaching into a trash can. I know I’m drawing a fine line between being an eco-activist and a bag lady,” she remarks. “But there are other things that are happening. My daughter is becoming more aware of recycling. I never thought a three-year-old would ask, ‘is this trash or recycling?’”

Rily often brings her daughter Samantha and her one-year-old son Max recycling. Her kiosk of choice is an automated machine next to a local Albertson’s that counts her cans and dispenses a refund ticket accordingly. A blog entry from June 4th proves just how much of an impact this has had on Samantha. Recently, I've been bringing the little girl with me to the point where now she got angry because I only had 37 cans and let her sit and watch me deposit the recycling instead of getting her hands dirty and sticky. She yelled at me afterwards, ‘I didn't get to help with the cans!’ She knows about recycling and is enthusiastic about it. She CRIED about not recycling cans. Cried. I’m so proud.”

It may seem as though life in the Rily household has been dramatically affected by multi-weekly recycling trips or that bottles and cans have overtaken their home. But other than her outspoken husband Mitch asking strangers for cans, not much has changed, and the Can Mom shrugs it off, defending her new eco-lifestyle. “It hasn’t slowed me down at all. The other day I was driving home from Target and someone had left a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi in the parking lot, so I stopped the car for a second and put it in a bag in the car. Five seconds here, five seconds there, that’s all it takes.”

Almost four months have passed since the Five Million Can Project’s inception and Rily has collected nearly 2,000 cans for a grand total just shy of $100 – a far cry from the $250,000 she hopes to acquire. But she’s not giving up and she brushes any thoughts of failure aside; for her, this is just the beginning. “I don’t know if I can make it by my daughter’s fifth birthday, like I had initially written in my blog, but I really do think I can achieve this goal. This whole thing is educating me just how much a million is. But we'll keep at it!

Five million may seem like an unfathomable amount of unclaimed recyclables, but according to, over seven billion cans and bottles were tossed into trash cans in California alone last year. So, what does Rily think of this astonishing number? “Hmm…all that stuff isn’t getting recycled,” she says, without missing a beat. “I’ll take that.”

Her motivation may have been to reverse the damage done to college funds after she lost her job, but Rily swears, “this project isn't just about getting money for my kids' educations. It's also building this sense of accomplishment for me and for the community. Just think if everyone saved their bottles and cans, recycled them, and donated them. How much money could they raise? Or, if everyone decided not to use bottles and cans. Think how many landfills wouldn't fill up as quickly. When we work together, it becomes very doable. And that's something I see as I work on this more and more. I've noticed other people picking up cans and bottles. I'm not alone. And that makes me happy.”

It might seem that Rily would be eternally grateful to all of the strangers across Los Angeles who have unknowingly contributed to her kids’ college savings accounts. However, she can’t quite bring herself to thank people for littering the city’s streets. “While I’m glad that there is a way for me to find a little ‘easy money’, I really wish that everyone would take responsibility for their own actions, and their own waste,” she says. “I wish that everyone recycled and this wasn’t even an issue. If my blog could bring into people's consciousness that they are throwing away something that is a: worth money, b: is a valuable resource and c: is just uselessly filling a landfill, I'd love it.”

In spite of wanting others to do their own recycling, several people close to Rily have earned her deepest gratitude for doing just the opposite. To my friends and family who have donated their cans and bottles, and my husband who has dragged bags of bottles and cans home on the Metro, I thank you so much for contributing and believing in me.”

So what’s next for the Five Million Can Project? Rily plans to seek out partnerships with businesses in her neighborhood that may not already be recycling, perhaps to trade their cans for links to their websites on her blog. To donate your recycling refund via Paypal or to follow Can Mom’s progress, visit


And here's the scoop from Smart2BeGreen!

June 15, 2010

Where Can You Find Extra Money?

If you pick up another man's trash
You can turn his old junk into cash
It may take awhile
But you'll show your green style
And soon you'll have quite the big stash.

Show Me the Money

Even when times aren't tough, it's nice to make a few extra bucks on the side for doing something you believe in. So what's the best way to profit off your green ways?

  • Recycle it Yourself - The contents of your household's recycling bin may get collected once a week, but it's not all that hard to do some of the work yourself - and to benefit from your independence. Locate your nearest recycling center or kiosk, then separate out all your bottles and cans. If you walk or bike to the center with your bag o'loot, you'll pull double duty for the environment and your wallet by saving on gas and preventing unnecessary air pollution.
  • Make it a routine - Head over once a week with your recycling booty and keep the money you make in a jar or make a chart to show how much you've earned.
  • Save your profits and have a lofty goal - A handful of change each time you go may not seem like much, but it can add up quickly. One blogging mom started the Five Million Can Project, determined to collect and recycle five million cans over the next several years to pay for her kids' college educations.
  • One man's trash can be YOUR treasure - Train your eyes to look for abandoned plastic bottles and cans and see them as found money - on the subway, at the movie theatre, at the beach. Carry a bag with you in your pocket or purse for collecting - a simple bottle of hand sanitizer should chase away any fears of touching used beverage containers.

Another way to save money by utilizing your eco-friendly ways is to monitor your home utility usage with My Emissions Exchange, where your carbon credits are traded and you earn cash through PayPal!

Earth911 provides a list of additional ways you can earn money for recycling anything from electronics to clothing.


Thank you and! And thank you, Mrs. Platt, wherever you are!

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