Green Brief: Recycling Stations Turn Waste To Resource

A group of islanders is working to make Vashon Island a model waste-to-resource community.

  • Wednesday, July 7, 2021 5:52pm
  • Opinion
Steve Bergman

Steve Bergman

Editor’s Note: Green Briefs are a new, regular commentary from Vashon’s environmental leaders with useful information to help islanders respond to the climate crisis and heal the earth. Coordinated by The Whole Vashon Project.

With climate change upon us, we want to help improve our island’s sustainability and resilience.

How we deal with waste is high on the list. In nature, there is no waste — everything is a resource. Nutrients and energy flow in continuous cycles of growth, decay and regeneration. Waste is a human-made design flaw in many civilizations.

Good advice for healing the planet: it’s not a silver bullet we need, but silver buckshot — the simultaneous application of many diverse actions. In an ideal circular economy, resources are kept in use longer and waste is eliminated by recycling and reducing the need for new resources.

Fortunately, a group of islanders is working to make Vashon Island a model waste-to-resource community — one of the silver buckshot targeted to reduce waste. Thanks to a 2020 King County CSA grant to Vashon Makerspace, a group of motivated volunteers has created two 3-bin Recycling Stations in the Vashon Town Center at the Village Green and Ober Park. They will be available at the Strawberry Festival, although the Ober Park station will be temporarily moved to the IGA Stage.

These Recycling Stations were created by members of the Vashon Makerspace and Tool Library, in partnership with Zero Waste Vashon, Vashon Parks, VIGA, Open Space for Arts and Community, the Vashon Chamber of Commerce and five island high school sophomores (and their parents): Benjamin O’Connor, Oliver Churchill, Moses Trundle, Nick Zuckerman, and Leo Neidinger. The group aims to engage and motivate our community to reduce waste and promote the benefits of a circular/shared economy, as well as create a collaborative network for more environmentally-focused island programs.

Nancy and Mike O’Connor, next to the recently completely recycling stations (Courtesy Photo).

Nancy and Mike O’Connor, next to the recently completely recycling stations (Courtesy Photo).

This team designed the stations and built them (during the pandemic) under the instruction of retired shop teacher, Kevin Grayum, at Open Space, utilizing the vast tool collection of the Vashon Tool Library. Knowledge and carpentry skills were transferred to the students and other participants during the project, with special COVID-19 protocols in place. Island artist Hope Black provided the creative diversity and nature-inspired mural on the Village Green Station. In total, more than 500 volunteer hours were spent on this effort. A BIG thanks to all who helped.

Vashon Parks staff have agreed to service two of the three bins in each station (garbage and commingled recycling — thank you, Parks!) but not the compostables. We seek your input and advice on developing a system for organic waste. What is the best way to collect it and what should we do with the organic compostable waste? Garden fertilizer? Animal feed? Other ideas? If you have a use, contact us!

Email to help with this.

Thanks for putting the R’s into practice throughout the day: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink every purchase through a zero-waste filter, considering how it will be disposed of. And stay tuned for future articles on other ways we can make Vashon a model waste-to-resource community.

— Steve Bergman is a geologist, Zero Waste Vashon and Vashon Makerspace board member and Whole Vashon Project advisor.

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