‘Green magician’ uses magic to show power of recycling

Living on Earth

When it comes to magic, CJ May focuses on the four Rs. Reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink.

Performing under the stage name Cyril the Sorcerer and the Resourcerer, May isn’t just a magician, he’s an eco-evangelist.

“Both magic and recycling take one thing and make it into something else,” May said. “Magicians take things and make things into something else all the time – an egg into a dove – but recycling takes old paper, old cans and bottles – stuff that people generally don’t want anymore – and turns it into something that they do.”

One of May’s most dramatic tricks, or illusions, is when an incandescent light bulb he’s holding explodes. The incandescent light bulb, May said, is an example of the 20th Century and something we have to say goodbye to.

“That generally gets people’s attention,” he said.

May’s goal is to get people thinking about the future. And sometimes he uses magic, but often he uses money. Or at least, he talks about money.

“For homeowners, the recycling professionals have found that one of the single best ways to get a suburban household to start recycling is to charge them for removing trash and to make the removal of recycling free,” he said.

May said that EPA statistic indicate 30 to 40 percent of American trash is organics — material that could go into compost piles and never head for the landfill.

“None of that stuff should go into the trash. All of that can be made into new stuff again,” he said. “I enjoy actually doing one particular trick with that. I talk about how you can take all the food waste, and I throw it into this bin, close the lid – snap-o, presto change-o- and now that’s turned into dirt and I can pour the dirt out.

“But dirt by itself isn’t any good, because why would you want dirt? I close the lid again and open it up and flowers grow out,” he said.

May said the gee-whiz and wow-factor of a magic show can get people’s attention in ways that other presentations might not be able to. And, he says, magic and recycling have a lot in common, in that they take something and turn it into something else.

“We, as magicians – green magicians – can convey the wonder in our world, and the wonder of what every single member of the audience can do by recycling,” he said. “I think we’re doing a good job and we’re helping all of us see the magic that we have everyday all around us.”

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