By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Nov 18, 2009 at 1:01 PM

With high-profile presidential talks regarding climate change, global warming and the push for energy efficiency and green job creation, eco-consciousness is ubiquitous, but it is still a controversial topic.

At this point in the game, most people can agree that recycling, which has been routinely happening for decades now, is a good thing. Paper, aluminum cans, bottles that are labeled as either No. 1 or 2, no problem. We all understand how to separate our waste and the city takes care of the rest.

What has become a problem, however, are the not-so-easily-categorized disposable items, the often-misunderstood plastics (numbers three to seven). Plastic toy packaging, single-use plastic bags, those yogurt containers. Where do they go?

A new program launched by Preserve, a company that produces eco-friendly, 100 percent recycled toiletries, tableware and kitchen supplies, has an answer, at least for a portion of the problem. It's called Gimme 5 and as the name suggests, the company eagerly collects polypropylene No. 5 plastics to reuse in its plastic products.

With few cities accepting curbside collection of any plastics numbered higher than 2, Preserve partnered with Whole Foods Market, organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm and Organic Valley, an organic, farmer-owned cooperative.

Now, consumers can bring their common No. 5 plastics, including packaging for yogurt, cottage cheese, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, margarine, and hummus; medicine bottles; some plastic ice cream containers; and food storage and take-out containers to bins marked Gimme 5 inside Whole Foods Markets. In Milwaukee, Whole Foods Market is located at 2305 N. Prospect Ave.

Preserve then collects them and transforms them into toothbrushes, razors, mixing bowls and measuring cups, among other things. The number 5 should be plainly marked on the bottom of the container.

Additionally, the Preserve Gimme 5 program accepts Brita water pitcher filters for recycling, and can be deposited in the same bins. Instructions for drying and submitting these filters can be found at Preserve's Web site,

"This program will save thousands of pounds of No. 5 plastic from being sent to landfills," says Jeremiah McElwee, senior Whole Body coordinator for Whole Foods Market.

"We're thrilled to join this program and to empower our customers to increase their recycling efforts. We welcome this partnership and, thanks to a very successful pilot program at one of our Virginia stores, we know it will be popular with our shoppers as well."

According to Preserve founder and CEO Eric Hudson, choosing Preserve Plastic, in the form of a toothbrush or razor, for example, versus virgin plastic, we all benefit from a sizable reduction in greenhouse gases and significantly less water, energy, oil and coal is used in making the plastic.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”