Lions Recycle the Earth Lions can be found on the front lines of local recycling projects all around the world, reclaiming everything from scrap metal and old newspapers to medical devices and used cell phones. The recycling effort Lions are best known for is the Recycle for Sight Program, which collects millions of used eyeglasses yearly for distribution in developing countries, where eye care is unaffordable or inaccessible for many people. Simple and effective, the pioneering program that started in the 1930s remains a high-profile and frequently praised symbol of Lion practicality and service to others. “Unwanted or outdated eyeglasses, tucked away in drawers or closets, can make a tremendous difference in the life of someone in need,” Abigail Van Buren told readers of her syndicated “Dear Abby” column in 1996. The Lion eyeglass initiative is a “wonderful program,” she added. Building on the success of that initiative, Lions in the early 2000s launched the Hearing Aid Recycling Program, which similarly collects and refurbishes donated hearing aids for distribution to those who lack funds to buy them. Over time, however, Lions have taken up more conventional recycling chores, often led by Lions Green Teams. Around the globe, Lions Green Teams regularly gather and recycle huge quantities of scrap metal, paper and other reusable projects. Each April, Lions dedicate a month of service to protecting the planet as part of the Protecting Your Environment, an element of the Global Service Action Campaign. The campaign’s recycling efforts help save energy, reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills and conserve dwindling natural resources. In Turkey, the Bursa Koza Lions Club collects plastic bottles for recycling “in order to prevent pollution of the environment and nature,” says club member Nuket Tuzlacioglu. Recycling has another attraction for some clubs: Besides their environmental benefit, recycling programs often generate revenue that Lions can use to fund other good works. The Boracay Malay Amity Lions Club in the Philippines organized an environmental awareness campaign to make separating trash from recyclables fun. In Arizona, the Prescott Noon Lions Club has collected and shipped nearly 53 million pounds of recyclable newsprint and other paper. By collecting newspapers and magazines in bins all around town, the club has raised more than $200,000 to support local charities. “If the paper is recycled, that means we don’t cut down as many trees,” explains Prescott Noon Lion Bill Parker. In India, the Aldona Lions Club launched a garbage reduction program in local schools. Officials noted the plan was “converting waste to wealth,” as the schools benefited from funds raised by the sale of recyclable materials. In Penn Yan, a village in upstate New York, local Lions asked neighbors in the Finger Lake region to “help us help others by donating your scrap metal so we can recycle it and turn it into cash.” Recycling work can be difficult, but the benefits to the community and the earth make the effort worthwhile. Read the rest of the 100 Touchstone stories written for Lions’ centennial at Lions100.org.
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