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Cat owners can find lots of uses for old kitty litter pails. One Iowa State University student found a creative way to put old containers to use. And, the simple solution ended up helping the community in multiple ways.

Reusing a kitty litter pail isn't anything new for Amanda Jacobson. She says, "My boyfriend and I have a cat, and so I was trying to think of containers."

Jacobson was an intern with the Live Green program at Iowa State University last year. One of her assignments was to find containers for a campus glass recycling project. Live Green Director of Sustainability Merry Rankin says, "We've been doing glass recycling for a number of years. It was only recently that the city approached us about how we could work together to keep that much more glass out of the trash."

So, Live Green launched a pilot project last summer. The goal was to keep all the broken glass from the school's 1,800 science labs out of the trash. Jacobsen thought a Tidy Cats container would be perfect. The pail is the right size. It boasts the school's colors. And, they asked community cat lovers to donate old containers. Jacobson says, "They're essentially free if people are reusing them. It's more sustainable because it's reusing instead of having them landfilled."

All the glass is brought to the Ames Resource Recovery Plant, where it's recycled and turned into a useful item. Lorrie Hanson with the Ames Resource Recovery Plant says, "The finest glass that we can crush is really just like playground sand."

Hanson says the material can be used for landscaping projects. She says ISU's program has recycled three and a half tons of glass since the pilot project started last July.

Now, organizers are trying to recycle even more by putting pails in all the labs. And, a big donation is helping. Jacobson says, "Somehow Nestle Purina saw it." The company donated nearly 1,100 Tidy Cats pails to the Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary. Area shelters got the free kitty litter, with the stipulation Iowa State University would get the empty containers. Jacobson says, "It worked out to help other people as well."

The Live Green program at Iowa State University is still looking for more old Tidy Cats containers. You can contact the Live Green's Sustainability Director to drop it off.

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