You’ve probably seen or heard me mention a few times that I’m a Master Recycler. I’m guessing your first reaction was “what the heck is a Master Recycler?” I’m sure some of you think it’s a fancy title for someone who geeks out on recycling. Well, it’s definitely a little of that, but so much more!
Master Recycler’s Training
I graduated as a Master Recycler in October of 2008. Yes, this is actual training administered by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. The training was nine weeks of presentations by industry professionals such as those from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Metro, the Center for Earth Leadership and many others. Included were two weekends of field trips to a MRF (material recovery facility), the landfill and several non-profit organizations such as Free Geek, Community Warehouse, SCRAP, and the Rebuilding Center. While learning everything about living more sustainably is next to impossible, I did take some steps (okay, many) in that direction. The Master Recycler’s program teaches you about recycling and waste prevention, composting, toxics reduction and thoughtful consumption.
In order to actually become “certified” as a Master Recycler, you need to perform at least 30 hours of community outreach on the topics covered in class. I’m proud to say that I have far surpassed that requirement with over 380 hours (yes, I’m an over achiever). It’s something I’m passionate about and any opportunity I have to provide education, I jump on it! My areas of outreach included tabling at farmers markets and other events, assisting a local school to become green certified via Oregon Green Schools, helped lead Earth Day activities, conducted several home eco parties, and have helped coordinate numerous community cleanup events.
Going through the program really changed everything for me. Yeah, I recycled as much as I could before starting, but I had never considered composting or gave a second thought to toxins in cleaning or beauty products. My thought process changed from convenience for me, to convenience to mother nature. Sure recycling is good, but reusing is even better (think about the hierarchy — reduce, reuse, recycle – in that order). We went from having one filled 60 gallon can of garbage a WEEK to less than a 32 gallon can a MONTH (with two cats!). I now make green living a part of my every day process. Choosing vendors or local retailers and establishments that have the same belief’s, hosting eco-friendly parties, and continuing to educate where and when I can!