Some people see problems and complain. Others see opportunity. When the Petersburg-born Damon Harris moved back to the area from Rhode Island, the nonprofit management consultant recognized that the Richmond region had a recycling problem. He was inspired.
“This is one of the best places for someone who has an idea,” the 34-year-old father of two says of Richmond. “I studied recycling and found that most businesses here didn’t have a way to do it.”
And so, last year, Wrecycleit was born. Harris and his staff of five — plus his wife, Citirah — already are sifting through more than 3,000 pounds of boxes, glasses and cans a week, collected from clients across the region. “We use local people. … And we are in and out in a minute or less,” he says.
Working with an e-waste company, 2nd Solution, Wrecycleit also picks up outdated electronics. “Recycling is definitely not the sexiest job in the world,” he acknowledges, laughing. “I’ve lost weight and I have a strong left arm now. In a year, I may look like a freak of nature.”
Even though his company is “still wearing Pampers,” he says, it’s started giving back to the community through Green Print, a work-force program that trains at-risk young people, ages 17-20, in the business of waste management. “The purpose was to create jobs for underemployed kids,” he says. An associate program, initiated with the nonprofit First Contractors, provides carpentry skills to area youth.
Wrecycleit also has worked with Pepsi to provide free services to area schools and, in August, launched the Green Byrd program, which offers recycling to Carytown businesses at reduced rates, giving 30 percent of its fees directly to the Byrd Theatre Foundation. “It’s community helping community,” Harris says. “Plus the Byrd takes the old and recycles, refurbishes and reuses it … just like us.”