Green Around Acadiana: Backyard Sapphire

Backyard Sapphire is truly a local company that fills a much-needed void. When the city of Lafayette discontinued glass recycling a few years back, it was a weird adjustment having to throw glass bottles in the trash. Glass is one of the best materials to recycle because it can be recycled endlessly without losing quality. However, when there's no market for it, it's hard to have services continued.

Many Target locations nationwide have offered a glass recycling bin, but it wasn't enough to still impacted the amount of recyclable glass being thrown away citywide.

Lafayette and Republic Services have yet to reintroduce glass recycling, but luckily, there's another option available to residents.
Backyard Sapphire entered the scene and opened in the middle of 2020 for friends of the owners, Tina Crapsi and Dawn Vincent. In 2021, they expanded their operations to the public. Tina and Dawn collect glass bottles from participating residents, and pulverize it into glass mulch. 
Photo courtesy Backyard Sapphire

The glass mulch can be used however you like, typically in landscaping or potted plants. The process that Backyard Sapphire uses to crush the glass rounds and softens the edges and allows for safe handling. The mulch comes in different color and size variations, and provides a lot of benefits to landscaping. 
  • Glass mulch doesn't retain as much moisture as wooden mulch, so there isn't as much potential for fungus to grow. 
  • Glass mulch is very suitable for plants that grow best in sandy and rocky soils, but packing it loosely can make it adaptable to any environment or plant. 
  • Glass mulch serves as an eye catching topper in flower beds, in rock and rain gardens, or along stone paths.
  • Glass mulch is a great way of suffocating weeds and shows a better success rate at weed-prevention than traditional wood mulch. 
  • Glass mulch cover is perfect for low-water gardens and landscapes. 
Photo courtesy Backyard Sapphire

However, glass isn't the perfect solution for gardens with shallow rooted plants or that may get a lot of sun because they can hold more heat than traditional mulch.
Backyard Sapphire is a grassroots movement towards sustainability and making our footprint smaller, and they made their own way in the beginning. "The machinery we wanted to start out with was expensive, so we built a glass crusher that gave us three different sizes," they said.
 There are two ways to contribute your glass to Backyard Sapphire's operations: curbside pickup or drop-off. For a nominal subscription fee, you can have your own collection bin that will be emptied by Tina and Dawn on a regular basis. At the moment, there is one drop-off location - bring your glass to the Fightingville Fresh Market on Tuesdays between 3 and 5 p.m. or Saturdays between 1 and 4 p.m. There is a small fee to drop off glass, which directly supports Backyard Sapphire's continuing operations and efforts.

The glass mulch can be purchased through Backyard Sapphire's website or at Fightingville Fresh Market.
Photo courtesy Backyard Sapphire

Tina and Dawn say they have a great community of curbside customers and contributors at their drop off site, and they hope to have additional sites available in the future. They say they plan to do more events and pop-up drop-offs in the future.   

Photo courtesy Backyard Sapphire
One of the most exciting developments for Backyard Sapphire happened late in 2021, when they were able to invest in the GLSand Bottle Crusher 2.0. With the new machinery, Tina and Dawn are able to crush more volumes of glass, more easily.

"We plan to continue to grow and advance our technology and methods to be as efficient as possible, which will allow us to take on more glass.  We are experimenting with ways to use our products and byproducts," Tina and Dawn said. "There is only potential for such a sustainable product with endless applications."
In less than two years of operations, Tina and Dawn estimate they have recycled more than 31 TONS of glass. It's extremely impressive that in less than two years, a two-woman operation in one city can divert that much glass from the landfill and create a product that can be reused and loved for a long time.
"In six months of 2020, we probably collected and crushed a ton of glass. It grew quickly to almost a ton a week, and now it is a little over a ton a week. It's so much and so little at the same time," Tina and Dawn said.

In the summer of 2021, Backyard Sapphire was even featured on the CBS Evening News. Check out their interview!

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