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It is easy being green with the Master Recycling program posted on 02/01/2019

When Dawn Loomis took the Master Recycler class 10 years ago, she realized that recycling is just one step in the effort to help keep things green, but that reducing and reusing are also part of the equation.

“It was awesome,” Loomis said of the class. “I learned so much more than I thought I ever would.”

The course will be offered in Oregon City, starting on Wednesday, April 3. Registration for the course ends on Wednesday, March 6.

The eight-week class will meet once a week in the evening and twice on Saturdays for field trips, offering a hands-on opportunity for participants to learn about recycling and waste reduction. Those in the class will also commit to volunteering for 30 hours of public outreach, such as working at information booths, providing community presentations and working on projects.

The program started in 1991 with a nonprofit in Seattle, and then spread to Oregon State University. Today, it is offered by Metro, City of Portland, Clackamas County, Washington County, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Recycling Advocates, and approximately 1,700 people have taken the course, providing approximately 58,000 hours of service.

Lauren Norris, Master Recycler Program Manager, noted the class has grown so popular that they have had to turn people away, with more than 100 people applying for one of 30 spots for the Multnomah County class.

“I think that people are very interested in sustainability,” Norris said.

Norris added that when the program began, people were really concerned with there being not enough space in landfills. Now, the focus is more on conserving natural resources and protecting the climate, examining the full lifecycle of materials and not just looking at avoiding landfills.

The course will cover materials that are recyclable and also how the markets for recyclable materials work. 25 different presenters, from local governments to private professionals, will share their knowledge, while field trips will include recycling facilities for a look into how the sorting and baling processes work.

Stacy Luddington, Sustainability Analyst for Clackamas County and also a Master Recycler, noted that understanding why one thing can be recycled but others cannot becomes clearer through the course, such as how plastic bags can tangle machines at the facilities.

“When people know the why, it tends to stick,” she said.

Luddington also noted that Master Recyclers aren’t limited to recycling but also help spread the word about using less toxic cleaners, wasting less food and doing Repair Fairs, where some things can be fixed and reused rather than thrown away.

In the 10 years since Loomis took the course, she has done activities including a waste audit at her son’s school, applied for several grants, done collection events on the Mountain and more.

She encouraged anyone interested on the Mountain to participate, noting more hands would be welcome in the recycle/reuse/reduce efforts.

“We need some local, energetic people to get on board,” Loomis said.

The course will be run for eight consecutive Wednesdays, starting on April 3, at Clackamas County’s Development Services Building, 150 Beavercreek Road, in Oregon City. There is a $50 fee to cover course materials, but scholarships are available. For more information, visit www.masterrecycler.org/. Registration closes at noon Wednesday, March 6.

By Garth Guibord/MT

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