Sustainable Futures: Recycling Glass & Rehabilitating People

glass wine bottles

When President Obama talks about creating more and more green jobs, he often mentions the solar panel industry and the wind power industry. But there are plenty of green industries and green jobs around that fall under the radar. Take, for example, Sustainable Futures in Boise, Idaho. It’s a non-profit organization that offers green job vocational training to the jailed or paroled female inmates from Idaho’s Department of Corrections.

The company’s motto – close the loop, open the circle – encompasses the ideas of both recycling products and rehabilitating people.  Nothing is thrown away – not the glass and not the people.

Sustainable Futures focus is on reducing glass waste by harvesting, cleaning, sorting and reusing wine bottles. Some are redistributed to local wineries, while others are transformed into decorative glassware that’s resold to restaurants and retailers. Broken glass is utilized for recycled glass countertops.

Like the wine bottles they work with, the female inmates who participate in the Sustainable Futures program are also transformed. Mostly uneducated and unskilled, these women develop the skills that let them turn trash into treasure. And while they are creating these treasures during their 12-week Sustainable Future’s program, they are also learning life skills and tools that will help them when released from prison back into society.

Sustainable Futures, which is a perfect working model of what green jobs should be about,  is only a local concern at the moment. Here’s hoping that it will soon be replicated around the country and the world.

Image: Robert S. Donovan