Most national parks recycle the usual things and Tom and I appreciate the opportunity to recycle while we are living in the parks. Chickamauga was the exception because Georgia doesn’t really have a recycling program and the park had to pay to have its recycling collected. Consequently, they just collected certain plastics and aluminum. Grand Portage is at the other end of the continuum because they are passionate about recycling and they recycle everything.
Grand Portage Heritage Center (Visitors Center) has a big basement and a large, central portion of the basement is taken up with recycling pallets. The maintenance staff collect and separate the items to be recycled from all over the park: containers and seasonal housing.
We collect our recycling and carry it in on the days we work. I take it to the basement and separate it into the appropriate container. Plastics, glass, aluminum, steel, corrugated cardboard, paperboard, assorted paper. But there is also a section for batteries another for electronics, and one for dead light bulbs. Today, when I carried some stuff to the basement, I noticed that someone had set out an old file cabinet for the recycling!
The thing that really takes Grand Portage over the top, however, is Maintenance woman Amber. She collects items that are taken to Ruby’s Pantry for recycling. Ruby’s Pantry is a food distribution center and they collect recyclables that are turned in for money. But these are not your ordinary recyclables. They collect things like Clif bar wrappers, toothpaste tubes, and cereal liner bags. I’m not sure if they send them in to one place or get reimbursed by companies. They have been doing the program for 10 months and have earned $114 so far. As we so often say, “every little bit helps.”
Amber also collects Coca-cola rewards points and General Mills Box Tops for Education. She gives these to the Cook County School (yes, one school system for the whole county!) so the students can earn a little extra for their school. She collected Campbell’s soup labels until the program ended this month after 42 years.
Another form of recycling used by the park is composting. I had never composted before but have been doing it this summer. It is nice to know that the orange peels, egg shells, and rotten lettuce will not end up in a landfill but will be used to improve the soil in the garden here at the historic site.
It is nice to be part of a park that is so passionate about recycling. Tom and I have been so good at recycling here that we have less than one 13 gallon bag of trash per week. Not only are we living small, but we are reducing our trash footprint on the earth.
What do you recycle? How much trash do you generate a week? It is worth considering.