Recycling education resurges

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Sedona Recycles had its humble beginnings as an all-volunteer educational nonprofit organization in 1989. We did not have a permanent location until 1996, so for those first seven years recyclables were collected around town. A lot has changed since those days. Sedona has grown, with people moving in and people moving out. Through all the changes Sedona Recycles has continued our focus on educating the public about the importance of resource recovery for our community’s sustainability and our planet’s health and wellbeing.

As multi-stream recyclers we know the importance of collecting materials separated to see that they really have another life. As the recycling industry has advanced, and with garbage companies taking over much of the country’s recycling collection, things have certainly changed. Multi-stream quickly became dual-stream and then single-stream and even mixed waste. Every step along the way required less participation on the part of the consumer and less opportunity to educate.

Interestingly enough, all that is changing. Contamination of recyclable materials has reached a critical point and recycled material buyers want only the cleanest, well-sorted recyclables. What once was viewed as a commodity is often now seen as trash as a result of questionable collection methods and sorting techniques.

Our system has never changed and, as it is often said, everything old is new again. Recycling conferences are now having sessions on the return of multi-stream recycling and the demise of mixed waste as the best hope for real resource recovery. Education is once again in vogue and we are taking full advantage of the opportunity.

Over the years recycling programs at local schools have slowly diminished, mostly due to budget cuts and a lack of available staff to run these programs. This year though we have seen a big turnaround with a number of local schools focusing on the importance of recycling for their students.

Leading the way are Verde Valley School and Sedona Charter School. Both of these schools have committed to real recycling programs as part of their curriculum. Students are involved in every aspect and Jean Turocy, our Education and Outreach Director, has regular classes at both these schools.

Additional schools that have recently come on board with the implementation of campus recycling and ongoing programs are Big Park School, Mountain View Preparatory in Cottonwood, Beaver Creek School in Rimrock, Clarkdale-Jerome School, Desert Star School in Cornville, St. Joseph’s Catholic Grade School in Cottonwood, and Oak Creek School in Cornville.

It really lifts our spirits to see the resurgence of the sustainable spirit in our local schools after a number of years of what can only be called recycling de-education. All it takes is one teacher, parent, or student to say, “let’s make this a priority and it can happen.” It is infectious.

At the same time, the Education for Sustainability group, which is a part of the local Sustainability Alliance, is working on programs for local schools with a teacher’s education program. We are also seeing the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program included in the curriculum at many schools in the area. All of this is good news and good for the next generation. Recycling is an important part of all these programs and can be incorporated alongside.

We are rallied by the resurgence of recycling in our local communities and the realization that we all have a part to play. Anything worth doing is worth doing right and we are on track to turn the current system around and find our way back to recycling the best way possible. Join the club and reduce, reuse, and recycle and support our educational programs.

In October, Sedona Recycles will start our three-month fundraiser, 90 Gifts in 90 Days. Our focus this year is our educational program, and funding received will help us purchase educational supplies and provide weekly classes on waste reduction, the benefit of reuse, and the importance of recycling at local schools. For more information about our educational program, or to make a donation, please visit our website at or call us at (928) 204-1185.


by Jill McCutcheon, Sedona Recycles

Sedona Red Rock News

September 21, 2016