Is there a park, school playground, recreation trail or community gathering space in your hometown that needs a little sprucing up? Iowa’s grocers would love to help with a Build with Bags grant from the Iowa Grocery Industry Association.The Build with Bags program awards grants of up to $2,000 for purchases of picnic tables, park benches, planters and playground equipment made of recycled plastic bags. The deadline to apply for a grant is March 30.
“We want to encourage community groups to apply for these grants even if they’ve applied in the past,” said Iowa Grocery Industry Association President Michelle Hurd. “Grocers care about the environment, and they express this care and concern through the Build with Bags grant program.”
After nine years, the Build with Bags grant program has donated $307,462 to more than 180 schools and parks across the state and kept hundreds of thousands of plastic bags out of landfills.
The idea is to use the money from the Build with Bags Grants to increase plastic bag recycling efforts throughout Iowa and it’s working, according to Hurd. Approximately 10,600 plastic bags are used in the making of one park bench and more than 20,000 are used to make a picnic table.
“The program takes an innovative approach to encourage individuals to recycle their plastic bags so those bags can be turned into products that beautify our communities,” explained Hurd. “It gives Iowans a firsthand look at what happens to their plastic bags when they are recycled and demonstrates our industry’s commitment to the environment. Our members feel strongly that everybody wins when we recycle.”
Grocers play an instrumental role in securing the Build with Bags grants for their communities. Grant applicants must obtain an endorsement letter from a local grocer who is supportive of the community’s project and recycling plans.
“While the endorsement letter is not the only factor in the selection process, it is one of the most vital to the Build with Bags program,” Hurd explained. “In the program committee’s eyes, it reflects how the applying community is working with its local grocers to establish long-term projects and goals that help increase the awareness of plastic bag recycling.”
Encouraging purchases of furniture and equipment made from recycled plastic for parks and schools through its grant program is one of four goals established for the Build with Bags program. The other three include increasing the amount of plastic bags recycled, reducing consumption of plastic bags and increasing use of reusable bags.
Participating retailers include Fareway and Hy-Vee locations as well as many independent grocers throughout the state.