Every year on or around November 15 (America Recycles Day), millions of people turn out to participate in America Recycles Day recycling events held throughout the nation. Tillamook County is no exception, and in some ways has set examples for other communities.
“According to the Keep America Beautiful website, ‘America Recycles Day is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States.’ I’m proud to say that Tillamook County is one of the thousands of communities that take this day to celebrate and learn more about their local recycling programs,” states Sue Owens, Tillamook County Solid Waste Education and Outreach Specialist. “For the last several years, we’ve worked hard to draw attention to recycling by offering several different educational outreach efforts county wide building up to this day as a focal point.”
In 2012 there was a plastic jug collection and Nestucca Valley Elementary School went gangbusters on their collections by collecting – literally – a truckload of plastic jugs earning them a recycled bench and starting the energy and enthusiasm for the annual event.
In addition to the plastics collection, tin can collections for grades 6-12 were introduced in 2013. Nestucca Valley High School and Tillamook Jr. High both won metal wall sculptures for their efforts.
In 2014 East School joined in the collecting program, earning a bench for their school as well. Smaller, private schools joined in the collections. No school went without something awarded for their efforts.
As attention grew and schools discovered this was a fun way to earn products for their school while encouraging earth stewardship, new and different schools began participating. Four schools enthusiastically participated in the 2015 plastic bag collection diverting over one-half million plastic bags (nearly 700 pounds) from the waste stream and earning a total of 13 raised garden beds.
For the 2016 collections, County schools have been challenged to collect plastic films AND white Styrofoam with a goal of winning garden beds. To find out what schools are participating contact the Tillamook County Solid Waste Department.
Not only has the Solid Waste Department offered recycling collections, they’ve also encouraged teachers of the younger, Pre-K to third grade students to challenge their students to think about what recycling is and how it benefits their world, today and in the future. “We do this by offering a calendar contest each year,” explains Owens, “this contest has grown in popularity and the artwork has been extremely ingenious and creative.” In 2015 there were over 700 entries. “This contest is currently underway for 2016 and is open to all Tillamook County students, Pre-K to 3rd grade, homeschool, private school, public school, and even private entry,” notes Owens. “We’ll be accepting entries until November 1, so get your art on!” Winners will receive gift certificates to Oh My Stars in Tillamook as well as public recognition at the January, 2017 Solid Waste Advisory Committee meeting. Contest details can be found by contacting the Solid Waste department or visiting their website.
“Recycling isn’t limited to America Recycles Day however,” stresses Owens, “we are excited to be partnering with the three County High School Senior SAFE committees to hold an Electronic Waste (E-Waste) and Styrofoam drive on January 7, 2017. Each of the schools will be hosting a collection at their area transfer station to collect as many pounds of E-waste as possible. “They are paid by the pound of materials collected, so bring your old electronics to them!” encourages Owens.
“Tillamook County has a goal of diverting over 30 percent of their waste stream from the trash, and increasing this rate to 37 percent by 2025. The education and programs presented by this office for Tillamook County students allows our children help make our goals a reality,” states David McCall, Solid Waste Program Manager. “Time and resources spent rewarding the students are time and resources well spent.”