New service helps those who want to recycle but cannot due to time or mobility issues

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Caleb Powell gathers recyclable papers and takes them to the recycling center as part of his new Eco Pickup business in Pratt.
Caleb Powell is willing to pick up any type of recyclable materials from individuals and businesses in Pratt and the surrounding 20-miles as part of his new Eco Pickup business, which he started to raise money for a mission trip.

Caleb Powell, 17, of Pratt, loves open doors. When God gives him an opportunity and a new direction, he has no hesitation exploring that option, he said. Earlier this summer, he put into motion an idea that has been brewing for some time - a business to help others as well as help him raise money for his dream to serve in missions. He calls it Eco Pickup.

"I didn't spend too much time on the name," he said. "It is pretty self-explanatory. I am here to take paper, plastic, glass and other recyclables to the Pratt Recycle Center. This is a service to people who wish to recycle but are not able to, because of time or mobility, to do it themselves."

Powell seems to have hit upon a good idea. In the three weeks that he initially made a Facebook post about his new business, he already has 11 confirmed and scheduled pick-ups ranging from local businesses to individuals and communities. At least 10 more contacts are in the process of consideration.

"With gas prices, I'd like to stay pretty close to Pratt," Powell said. "But if I get three or more people who need this help from any of the small towns within 20-miles of Pratt, I will schedule pickups all in the same time-frame so it makes economic sense."

The community of Iuka has already signed up with pickups at three locations from the small town North of Pratt. Powell said he had several clusters of people wanting recyclables picked up, particularly on the western edge of Pratt, but has room to schedule in at least 30 more entities for monthly, or twice-monthly, pick up.

"I charge $15 per month if coming once a month, $20 per month if I am needed twice a month," Powell said. "Donations for missions are always accepted too."

Powell said he has long felt a call towards missions, but felt there were several aspects of his life that needed to fall into place first. His graduation from Kansas Connections Academy in May 2021 was one of those aspects.

"I attended Pratt High School my freshman and sophomore years but when the pandemic hit in 2020, I just felt I wanted my own consistent school or path of education," he said. "Online school was a lot harder, very challenging, but I could work at my own pace, which in my case was ahead, and I could also have a job at the same time and earn money."

Powell graduated a year ahead of the normal education sequence and worked at Hi-Plains Veterinary Clinic as a kennel assistant for a year. He recently turned in his two-week notice there so he could be available to pick up recycling full-time, and explore missions opportunities.

"I just feel there are a lot of doors opening to me at this time," Powell said. "I feel I should walk through those door and see what God has in store for me."

Powell said his dream would be to work for six months at the Nazarene Mission Headquarters in the Dominican Republic, with two months on a work and witness team, then two months as part of a traveling mission outreach team.

"I want to help plant a church," he said.

Funding a mission dream isn't easy, but Powell said his brother actually started a recycling pickup business several years ago, and he hopes to pick up that baton and make it a better option, utilizing a time-management plan.

Since asking for donations has not been his preference, Powell said developing a service that people need and would be willing to pay for was a much better option for him.

"So far I have been pleasantly surprised by the great response," he said. "I may have to consider getting a partner if everything goes according to plan."

Earlier this summer, Powell spend a week at a mission camp for youth called, "The Call," at Mid-America Nazarene University in Olathe.

"It was really refreshing to be surrounded by other students my own age who wanted to be there for the same reason I was, because they felt called by God to some sort of mission work," he said. "It was really amazing."

Powell said that after a year working and finding a mission path, he plans to attend Mid-America Nazarene University for the next level of his education. He said he hopes to study pastoral ministry, theology and psychology, and to pursue whatever is beyond the doors God opens for him when the time is right.

To contact Powell for more information about Eco Pickup, call or text him at (620) 352-0244.