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Gresham goes green for Earth Day

The city's annual recycling collection event is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today in the City Hall parking lot
by: City of Gresham

Gresham Girl Scout Troop 40004 last week went around the Gresham Butte neighborhood looking to teach residents about the detriments of adding recyclable materials to landfills and offering to take recyclables to the city of Gresham's annual Earth Day recycling collection event.

But it seems Gresham residents have already embraced recycling.

Not only did they know the benefits of reusing materials, said Tina Deer, grandmother of Girl Scout Aliya Oberson, but most residents already had stockpiles of rigid plastics, fluorescent lights and Styrofoam ready to deliver to the City Hall parking lot, 1333 N.W. Eastman Parkway, during the event, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, April 21.

'I thought that was really encouraging,' Deer said.

And, troop leader Sandy Braumoeller noted, many residents gave the girls empty aluminum cans - a donation both in the 5-cent refund and the pop tab to Ronald McDonald House.

'So it has actually been beneficial in many ways for us,' she said.

The city also has seen Gresham's green spirit. Shaunna Sutcliffe, with the city's Recycling and Solid Waste Division, said she's been fielding hundreds of calls about what people can recycle.

'There are certain items residents have, and tend to have a lot of them, that are not recyclable in curbside roll carts,' Sutcliffe said, mentioning hard Styrofoam blocks, plastic bags and fluorescent lights. 'We offer this as a service to keep those items out of the landfill and get them disposed properly and safely.'

Recycle, reduce, reuse

Today is the city's 11th recycling event in honor of Earth Day, Sunday, April 22, and its 14th year offering a large-scale collection. Last year's event cost around $8,000 to staff and recycle 115 loose cubic yards of hard Styrofoam and 62 loose cubic yards of plastic (that's a lot), Sutcliffe said. Each year Metro regional government reimburses half the cost.

This year, five volunteers from high schools and 30 from Mt. Hood Community College are assisting city staff, and Gresham-based AccuShred NW is donating paper shredding services.

The other items will go to Far West Fibers, a local recycler that takes everything from white goods to metal to plastic bags for recycling - an option for citizens, too. The nearest location is in Northeast Portland, 12820 N.E. Marx St.

For people at Little League games during the event, 9- and 10-year-old Girl Scouts with Troop 40004 who are earning their recycling badge will be at the field collecting recyclables; at 1:30 p.m. they'll deliver them to the City Hall parking lot, Deer said. Meet them by the snack shack at Gresham City Park.

As the girls learn the value of recycling, they're also hand-sewing 100 reusable shopping bags to distribute to people.

'Plastic bags are a pretty big contaminant,' Sutcliffe said.

When they're mixed with recycling that is mechanically sorted on a conveyor belt, the plastic bags get caught in the mechanisms and seize up the machines. And they're no better in a landfill.

'They're learning our landfills are filling up,' Braumoeller said. 'Part of a badge for doing this is they're learning the importance of one. They have learned as one person, they can do so much.'

What to recycle

The city of Gresham Earth Day Recycling Collection Event is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, April 21, in the City Hall parking lot, 1333 N.W. Eastman Parkway. All drop-offs are free.

If you're near Gresham City Park, you can give your recyclables to Girl Scout Troop 40004, which will make a big drop-off at City Hall at 1:30 p.m.

The following items are accepted:

• Rigid plastics: Lawn chairs, pools toys, takeout containers, cups and utensils, bottle caps and lids, DVDs, CDs, VHS tapes, and clean grocery bags. Plastic must be clean and dry with no metal pieces, and small pieces should be together in an untied bag. Staff asks that people limit drop-offs to one car trunk load per household.

• Fluorescent lights: Up to 30 light tubes and three ballasts. Because fluorescent bulbs contain dangerous mercury vapor, boxes for tubes will be available at the drop-off, and broken bulbs will not be accepted unless they are boxed prior to drop-off.

• Styrofoam: Clean block Styrofoam, with all tape and labels removed. Packing peanuts are accepted, but soft foam and food-related Styrofoam are not.

• Paper: Up to four boxes of shredding, courtesy of Gresham's AccuShred NW.

• Cellphones: Drop off working or non-working cellphones as part of an Oregon Green Schools fundraiser. Phones are either recycled through shredding, smelting and metals refining or are reprogrammed.




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