IN OUR OPINION Recycling is here to stay

It’s difficult these days to find anyone who is against recycling. There are plenty of people who don’t practice it, perhaps, preferring to feed garbage receptacles with any container or waste of which they no longer have a use. But even the unconscious among us probably wouldn’t admit to actually being against making our environment healthier through recycling.

It’s all about recognizance, of course, though awareness is often slow to occur for most of us. We usually need an individual or a group to stimulate or arouse us from our passive behavior. Today, we call these people activists. In days past, they sometimes were known as rabble-rousers or agitators or even revolutionaries. They refused to go away because they knew that if a cause were great enough, such as during the ‘60s and ‘70s with the Vietnam War, an entire generation could be stirred to action. They were right.

Another mission emerged during those years, though its actualization was much subtler: cleaning up our part of the planet. It started slowly and on a superficial basis with anti-litter campaigns and eventually kicked into a higher gear with the realization that people actually could be rewarded by choosing to recycle. And now, as our poisonous ways have continued to foul our air, land and water, we are finally beginning to realize that our efforts need to be more unmitigated and conclusive because of the harm we are causing the Earth. We can make a difference, though, unfortunately the ineffectiveness of our stewardship in recent decades has created a life-and-death circumstance for all living things on Earth.

But back to recycling, which is big business now because most Americans are willing to pay for it. It gives them a good feeling because the results are tangible. Still, the need served by environmental activism is more vital than ever. Every little bit helps. Take Sharon Negri, who was “just chagrined” when, upon moving to the Bainbridge several years ago, she realized there was no recycling for large events such as the Fourth of July celebration. She quickly organized some friends into participating in a volunteer effort, which in 2004 because a project for Bainbridge High School’s Earth Service Corps.

Ah, yes, any good activist will pass her zeal on to the next generation.

With the use of 40 80-gallon and 40 40-gallon containers provided by Bainbridge Disposal, about two dozen youthful volunteers ride herd on the large crowds that jam Winslow Way on the third evening and fourth day of each July, making sure about a ton of recyclable materials are placed in the correct bins. Negri is still around as is Cynthia Foley, a 2006 BHS graduate and now a University of Toronto student who missed last year’s event but has returned this year to organize it one more time.

The beauty of the recycling project, Negri believes, is that it has become a community effort with many, many people involved. It’s also an expanding process. For example, cooking oil has been added this year to the growing list of recyclable materials. At the high school, ESC is hoping the community will donate to an Earth Bin composter, which would turn food waste into organic compost and go a long way toward helping the club achieve its goal of reducing campus waste by 50 percent during the next two years.

Negri and others also are trying to get the Bainbridge City Council to make recycling mandatory at most large public events, which would require the organizers to ensure that the people attending their events would reprocess as many materials as possible.

Yes, recycling has become mainstream. It’s encouraging, but, as any good environmental activist will tell you, with friendly pollutants such as fossil fuels and plastic, more volunteers are needed because the struggle has just begun.

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