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My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is … Andrea Chavez!!!

Andrea Chavez (#7230) has received a certificate of achievement in Cleaning Up for earning a Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert Level Recycling Merit Badge!

“In the Beginner category, Moscow, Idaho, has curbside recycling and in the summer of 2016, went to single-stream recycling, which has helped a LOT. Before, we had to separate items: cans, glass, papers, etc. It could be confusing, and because I know that an entire batch can be tossed out if something in it is bad, it was a strain. Single-stream allows us to pop everything recyclable into one big bin. The only item not allowed is glass. Glass takes a different process, and can be dangerous when broken. However, I still collect glass in a separate area and take it down to Moscow Recycling myself when I hit a critical mass.

For the Intermediate level, as you know, much of this work is now done for us! However, I have kept the list of dos and don’ts on my frig as a handy resource so I can decide what can and cannot go into the single-stream bin. I have to monitor what my dad puts in, as he thinks some of the plastics he uses can go in and they cannot. When my family is in town, I have to monitor their stuff, too, as Seattle has an even better system. They can put everything but food waste in, and they all have a compost bin for that stuff … nice.

We do reuse a lot of things, too. I often reuse cardboard boxes for storage and when we get a plastic bag (I do use reusable bags … but now and again we get one), Dad uses them for his bathroom waste. If we get a lot of them, they, too, can go into the recycling bin. I think our biggest recycling waste is newspapers and aluminum cans! Still, we manage to fill the bin every two weeks. Our garbage bin is much, much smaller now that we have done single-stream.

Expert level: We have been recycling for years, actually. As I mentioned earlier, I have to monitor the recycling bin to make sure things don’t end up there that shouldn’t AND to make sure things don’t go into the garbage that could be recycled. I help my dad with that. (He is 90… give him a break.)

How did it turn out!? Really well. As I mentioned, single-stream has been a blessing. It has really increased the amount of recycling we do because it is so much easier that even those who aren’t used to recycling can do it, too. I do have to make sure that glass is set aside because I will take that myself. Dad would just toss it … no, no! So, that is a constant learning curve for us. When family visit, I go through the recycling info with them so we don’t end up with beer bottles in the bin.

My sincere hope is that the single-stream is working for Moscow. It is difficult in a rural area for recycling centers to get a critical mass that is worth the energy to transport. Economically, that can be a tricky thing. Recycling is great, but does using fossil fuel to get it to the treatment plant offset the benefits of doing it? It is a question greenies need to consider, not because we shouldn’t do it, but because we need to fight to make it even better.”

Leave a comment One Comment

  1. Nielsen,Winifred T. says:

    Curb side recycling is so important for all of us and I am hopeful that single-stream might make it more affordable to extend to the rural areas where much is either burned or left scattered in woods and ditches.

    Congratulations Andrea on earning all three levels and thank-you for helping to make your community more beautiful and healthy!

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