HAMPSTEAD — The phrase "going green" has a whole new meaning for local residents.
If the town improves its recycling, it could be seeing green of a different kind — $100,000 worth.
Hampstead has been chosen to represent New Hampshire in a national recycling competition sponsored by SC Johnson.
The competition, the Green Choices Recycling Challenge, encourages communities to reduce waste and increase recycling.
Hampstead's participation is spearheaded by Ellen Cabral, town Recycling and Waste Disposal Committee member.
"We're keeping our fingers crossed that we have a fighting chance to win money for the town," she said.
The community with the highest participation rate receives $100,000 to put toward a local sustainability project, SC Johnson spokeswoman Ashley Johnson said.
SC Johnson, a manufacturer of household products such as Pledge and Ziploc bags, chose a community from each state that promotes recycling, Johnson said.
"Hampstead kind of fit perfectly," she said. "It's a good opportunity to do something good for the community and the country as well."
The six-month challenge started Monday and the winner will be announced in January.
Residents must record how much they recycle at least once a month through an online account established through Recyclebank.
Recyclebank works with municipalities and businesses to encourage recycling, rewarding people with discounts and deals from businesses.
Participating in the challenge will be good for the community, Selectman Priscilla Lindquist said.
"I'm for anything that will encourage recycling in the town of Hampstead," she said. "Anything to get people to recycle because (waste disposal) is just going to cost more in the future."
Cabral said residents told her about the Recyclebank program so she called to check it out.
The next thing she knew, the town was asked if it would be willing to participate in the challenge.
"It was a nice call to get," Cabral said. "They were definitely looking for a town that was willing to grow its recycling rate."
Hampstead recycles 22 percent of the items it collects. Cabral said. That compares to the national average of 34 percent, she said.
Cabral hopes participating in the challenge will boost the town's recycling rate by at least 12 percent.
Residents were notified of the challenge by mail two weeks ago, she said.
Cabral said she's confident Hampstead will be able to make a run for the money since participating in Recyclebank is simple.
"It just couldn't be any easier," she said.
Residents are encouraged to submit ideas on how the prize money should be spent through recyclebank.com
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