York resident and mum of two Karen Nash has raised more than £16,000 for charity in a rather unusual way. Rather than a sponsored cycle ride, half marathon or bake sale, Karen has spent the past ten years collecting and selling used metal packaging.
From an early age, her eldest son was offered support through The Snappy Trust – a city-centre initiative dedicated to maximising the personal development of young people with disabilities. To help raise funds for the charity, Karen founded her own initiative, Foil For Snappy, to help.
With no dedicated kerbside service to recycle aluminium foil offered to households in York, Karen set to work creating her own. By positioning dedicated collection bins in public car parks and accepting donations from local residents, Karen turned her garden into a small-scale waste handling facility, using it to separate and grade thousands of used packaging items, including cans and household cables.
As awareness grew, so did the volumes, with volunteers eventually sought to help Karen handle her snowballing success. Indeed, since collecting her very first item, Karen has since sorted and sold almost 29 tonnes of recyclable material, raising tens of thousands of pounds for charity in result. In 2019, she was awarded the Every Can Counts Green Can Award, and was also presented with the ‘Best Community Recycling Initiative’ at the 2019 Awards for Excellence in Recycling & Waste Management.
With the council having recently introduced aluminium foil to its kerbside collection service, Karen is now stepping down from her fundraising activities, having diverted the equivalent of 20 million mince pie cases, 687,000 beverage cans, 26,000 baked bean tins and 145,000 USB charging cables from landfill. Her work has helped to provide regular funding for The Snappy Trust and supported the lives of countless young people with disabilities.
Commenting on the journey, Karen said: “When I founded Foil For Snappy, I thought that it could be a clever way to raise money for charity, while also improving local recycling rates. Little did I know that this one small decision would see me embark on a ten-year community campaign!
“It’s been hugely rewarding and I’m delighted to have been able to raise so much for such a worthwhile cause. However, now that the council has introduced foil into its kerbside collections, I can take a much needed step back knowing that the city’s used aluminium packaging is in safe hands.
“I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all the residents who have donated their packaging over the past ten years, as well as friends, family and complete strangers who have offered their time voluntarily. Collectively, we’ve shown the true value of metal recycling.
Tom Giddings, executive director of the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro), added: “Since founding Foil For Snappy, Karen has continued to move mountains. Collecting almost 29 tonnes is no mean feat – especially when you consider that every item collected has been recycled into new, sustainable, infinitely recyclable products.
“We’ve followed her journey and supported the programme wherever we could. On behalf of our members, we’d like to thank Karen for all her hard work and dedication in helping to improve York’s metal recycling rates. Her work has not only raised funds for a hugely important charity, but also demonstrated the infinite recyclability of metal packaging.
“With the City of York Council adding aluminium foil to its kerbside collection scheme, we’re calling for residents to appreciate the significant value of aluminium packaging and recycle everything they possible can. If Karen can raise more than £16,000 for charity, simply throwing your used packaging in general waste is inexcusable.”
For more information about Alupro, visit www.alupro.co.uk. To read the organisation’s pioneering aluminium manifesto, visit www.alupro.org.uk/sustainability/manifesto.