Yes, We Can! Master Recycler Program in Oregon

Awesome Environmental Solution Where
You Can Help

Positive thinking is living in the solution, not the problem. When faced with environmental damage, let’s use the real, tangible, already available solutions to turn negative into positive.

There is a place in Oregon this fall to learn actions that can sustain our planet—aka the 3 R’s:  Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. This virtual 10-week class examines landfill science, composting, electronic and hazardous waste disposal, and costs and benefits of recycling.

RECYCLE — Recycling and using this cardboard means that a tree or two doesn’t need to be cut down. The trees we saved use their photosynthesis to use up the extra CO2 emissions in the air. Oh, and we also saved the costs to cut down the trees and manufacture new cardboard. Photo by Jon Moore, Unsplash.

The Master Recyclers Program (MRP) explores how wise materials management can decrease the amount of stuff we use, and then waste, to begin with.

Voila! The need, and costs, to recycle are decreased at the beginning of the consumption cycle.

REUSE — When we reuse materials in our life, that saves purchasing multiple items that would go to the landfill. This means less money spent on recycling.
Photo by Wynand Van Poortvliet, Unsplash.

Oregon State University and Republic Services facilitators are guiding this annual 10-week program.  Tino Barreras is Republic’s Education and Outreach facilitator for Linn and Benton counties. Andrea Norris brings her expertise as Marketing and Development Coordinator for OSU’s Campus Recycling.

Please note:  This fall’s Linn/Benton program is currently full.  In Oregon, however, Master Recycler Programs are held statewide; please check the Resources section at the end of this article for other MRP opportunities.

Highlighting Diversity Expands Outreach

The current Master Recyclers program welcomes diverse participants to learn how recycling aids sustainability. 

This online class is free to Linn and Benton County residents who commit to share their learning with 30 hours of volunteer outreach, within a year of course completion.

“It’s exciting that the online class will extend the reach of who can participate,” said Republic’s Barreras.  “It’s a diverse group, who will work in small groups and get to know each other.”

Volunteer activities can include: staffing an information table at a local market or event, leading a workshop, talking to neighbors and local groups, or pitching in at a recycle or re-use organization.

It’s a diverse group, who will work in small groups and get to know each other. Each participant will take their knowledge into their wider community. It’s an ever-expanding network.”  

Tino Barreras, Republic Services

The trained volunteers will be able to present pathways of change so people of all ages know that individual efforts—like what to recycle, what not to recycle—have a tangible effect on climate health. 

Originally an in-person class in previous years, this MRP class meets on Zoom: Mondays, 6-8pm, Sept 28 to Dec 7 (no class Nov. 23).   Discussion and question sessions will be held on two Thursdays, Oct 22 and Nov 19, 6-7pm.


Individual efforts—like what to recycle, what not to recycle—have a tangible effect on climate health.


Subject Matter Experts Bring Experience, Enthusiasm

The course structure uses an overview of recycle processes that most of us are familiar with, but are not sure exactly how much they make a difference.  So many questions:

  • What happens to those recycles I put in my bin? 
  • When waste goes to the landfill, how long is it expected to stay there? 
  • Does composting make a difference?

The professionals will share solutions they see on the horizon, but will also encourage participants to share solution ideas from their perspectives.

Waste Professionals Seek Community Ideas

“Each participant will take their knowledge into their wider community.  It’s an ever-expanding network,” Barreras said.

From campus-wide to community-wide, sustainability is honed by understanding and connection among people. The Master Recycler Program’s new online format will also support breaking into small groups to get to know people and learn about ideas and challenges of others.  Joining with other will widen the circle of influence of positive environmental change.

Materials Management and Waste Prevention

The lifecycle of waste, from extraction or growth to end of life, is the big picture of this class. Remember the 3 R’s to a sustainable planet—Reduce, Re-use, Recycle.  Recycling processes are only part, albeit a critical part, of the bigger material management picture. Re-use means using a material or a product again for another purpose or even for the same purpose.  Reduce means to re-use or to avoid purchasing; this leads to no waste—i.e., zero waste.

Zero waste–that is, no waste to start with—is the ultimate recycle strategy. Reducing our purchases eliminates money needed to (1) extract resource, transport; (2) manufacture, transport; (3) sell, transport; (4) trash, transport; (5) bury or burn. Carbon emissions decrease.

A Master Recycler learns the first step to recycling is to ask:
“Do I really need to buy this?”

Buying and trading will always be a way of interchange and economy vitality. However, both businesses and buyers will want to consider carefully what products they want to support in our local and global marketplace.

REDUCE — If we consider carefully what items we buy at the beginning of the consumer cycle, then we will lighten the recycling load–and thus the cost–needed at the end of the cycle.
Photo by Pop & Zebra, Upsplash.

Sustainability and MRP Are Statewide

Both individuals and businesses in Oregon have resources and ideas to both build our economy, and protect the environment as we move forward.

Here in Oregon, a viable, active program of education, participation, and outreach is embodied in the Master Recycler Programs. The MRP classes and resources can be found throughout the state of Oregon, by searching on your web browser.  The classes are sponsored by a diverse combination of private and public organizations, depending on the region.

Feel free to use the following resources to learn how waste recycling and management supports our economy and environment at the same time.

Oregon Business and Science Joint Environmental Resources

Linn & Benton Master Recyclers’ Program:

  • Andrea Norris, 541-737-5398
    Marketing & Development Coordinator, Oregon State University Campus Recycling
  • Tino Barreras, 541-286-3331
    Municipal Administrator/Education & Outreach, Republic Services

Republic and OSU Sustainability Links

Master Recycler Program– Inspire Neighbors and Coworkers Into Action

Upcoming:  Yes You Can! Fishing Regulations Reveal Global Buy-In by Oregon

  • Fishing collaboration with other states, countries—lead to sustainability
  • Oregon Initiatives and Resources

Yes We Can! October Solutions

Climate Reality SW Oregon Chapter
Presents
“Yes, We Can!” Climate Solutions

Local efforts. Global efforts. Efforts through science, industry, government initiatives, individual initiatives. This section delivers positive solutions we can learn about, share with others, and support. Read on and see where you can join in on making a livable climate.

Save the planet?! Yes, we can!

Each One of Us Makes a Climate Difference

Self-doubt can dog us all. We all can wonder the following: What can I really do anyway? Does my vote really count? If I delete a phishing email, does it really block the worm that could open the channel to my company’s data and finances? Is there anything really, that I can personally do to change the global climate for the better? The answer is yes.

For all the negative environmental impacts that that destroy ecosystems and atmosphere, and ratchet up a cascade of climate damage, there are practical solutions that we can do to start healing the earth and our climate.

Once we marshal the facts and get a grasp of positives as well as the negatives of climate reality, we will understand that yes, we can save the world. One person can make a difference. A group of people can make a difference.

Integrate Solutions into every Climate Endeavor

This feature section of the Climate Reality SW Oregon Chapter will highlight the solutions that we can do to change the diagnosis for the Earth’s health from dismal to fit. Some of these solutions are in place and can be done today. Some are on the drawing board. Teams of
community, science, government, and individuals are coordinating and collaborating on positive changes.

Stay in Solution, Stay Inspired

Two “gung ho” concepts to get us moving toward solutions:
(1) Remember the three R’s—Reduce, Re-use, Recycle.
(2) Remember the three S’s—Speak up, Share knowledge and resources, Show others how it is done!

The best environmental book on individual effort making a difference is George Saves the World by Lunchtime by Jo Readman and Ley Honor Roberts. This intergenerational story illustrates how George and his Grandpa “save the world” between breakfast and lunch.
How?
> They reduce—use less gas by cycling.
> They re-use—say goodbye to old clothes, books, and toys; they repair items instead of buying new.
> They recycle—they sort plastic, cans, glass, and paper so they can be made into new products.
Super-hero capes are optional!

Your effort. My effort. Global efforts. Our efforts. This section is to remind us that we can positively impact the environment. No action is too little when done with environmental intention for healing.

Start small, or start big, but start learning, acting, and speaking up to heal the planet!

Upcoming “Yes, We Can!” Solutions Post

First solution story will look at the Master Recycler Program (MRP) in Oregon, as demonstrated by the current MRP program sponsored for Linn and Benton Counties in the Willamette Valley. A Fall 2020 Master Recycler Program, jointly facilitated by Oregon State
University Campus Recycling and Republic Services of Corvallis, started its 10-week online training on Sept 28.

Article by Molly Minahan Miller

24 Hours of Reality : Chapter special presentation

Join former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and other members of the Southwestern Oregon Chapter of The Climate Reality Project as we talk climate in Oregon and globally. Learn more about the science and how climate will effect drought, fires, and fairness for all. The presentation will also include solutions that are happening right now and in development.

Registration is now closed. Thank you to all who attended!

#24HoursOfReality #JoinTheCountdown Find the event on Facebook.

FAQ: The Oregon Climate Action Plan: What it is and What to do

By Mike Green

What is the Oregon Climate Action Plan?

The Oregon Climate Action Plan, or OCAP, is a comprehensive plan to dramatically reduce climate pollution and protect Oregon’s air and water by systematically increasing the adoption of clean, renewable approaches in transportation, businesses, and buildings. The long-term plan will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly but will also improve health, save money, and create jobs.

Alvord Desert, Oregon Photo by Elle Storset

What’s new about it?

This plan, authorized by Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order 20-04 in March 2020, is the most comprehensive and aggressive approach in our state’s history to address the crisis of climate change. You can read the executive order here and follow updates from Governor Brown here.

How comprehensive is the plan?

OCAP is a broad and systematic approach to foster a clean economy, make fuels cleaner, and make buildings more energy-efficient. For example:

  • Clean Economy: OCAP requires corporate polluters to reduce pollution over time by strengthening the existing pollution-reduction targets and requiring large polluters, by law, to reduce emissions. Large polluters will be required to lower climate pollution levels 45% below 1990 levels by 2035, and at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
  • Clean Fuels: OCAP extends the state’s successful four-year-old Clean Fuels Program, which creates jobs and lowers pollution from fuels by making cleaner options available. The program’s previous goal was to reduce pollution by 10% by 2025. The added goal, to reduce pollution 25% by 2035, is the most ambitious goal for clean fuels in the nation.
  • Clean Buildings: OCAP requires that new homes and buildings in Oregon be able, by 2030, to produce as much clean energy as they use and to maximize energy efficiency. By broadly applying technologies already in use today, homes and buildings will waste less energy with more efficient heating, cooling, and lighting.

The COVID pandemic and the large-scale movement for racial justice have put a spotlight on the many struggles of Oregonians. How does OCAP help disadvantage populations and communities?

The plan has an intense focus on communities of color and lower-income communities who are more likely to live and work closest to the major pollution sources and thus be harmed most by climate change. For example, OCAP requires state agencies to consult with impacted communities and the Environmental Justice Task Force on climate actions. The plan also prioritizes actions that help impacted communities adapt to climate change and calls for the creation of an interagency work group to address climate harms to impacted communities.

Is there any progress yet?

Yes. In May 2020, twelve state agencies submitted their plans to carry out the Governor’s Executive Order establishing the plan. Agencies with specific directives—ranging from the Department of Environment Quality to the state’s departments of Energy and Transportation—provided detailed plans to achieve major climate progress in Oregon. These include concrete plans for increasing transportation electrification, using cleaner fuels to replace petroleum, installing more infrastructure for clean energy generation and usage, building cleaner and more energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings, reducing food waste, reducing methane emissions from landfills, and mandating better land use planning. You can read the agencies’ detailed plans here

What comes next?

Much is yet to come from both state agencies and advocacy groups across Oregon. For example, by mid-September the Building Codes Division will outline options for achieving the 2030 energy efficiency goal over the next three cycles of updating the state building code. And many of the state’s administrative processes are making individual directives within the governor’s order a reality. In addition, advocacy groups within the Renew Oregon coalition have submitted letters to many agencies to inform their plans, and those groups are exploring how to coordinate their activities and collaborate with the OCAP goals in mind.

What can we do as Oregonians and as Climate Reality Project members to make OCAP successful—and accelerate its gains?

First, we should work to do everything we can as individuals to set an example and reduce our own emissions and overall carbon footprint, by following the advice of Oregon groups like reneworegon.org and international groups like The Climate Reality Project. Then we should require the companies we buy from to meet or exceed their requirements under OCAP—or do business with companies that do. And we should make sure we VOTE to elect or re-elect the officials who will lead with the integrity and urgency that the climate crisis demands. For more information see the Turn Out for Tomorrow initiative of the Climate Reality Project and follow our Oregon legislative activity here.  

Rulemaking 101: the power of the public voice and the rulemaking process in Oregon.

Rulemaking is an essential part of lawmaking. When the Oregon State Legislature passes a law, that is just the beginning. The law is basically a decree. A new law declares what lawmakers have decided to do, but it says very little about how everyone will need to do it. The how part is called the rulemaking process. It is also the part where the voice of the public is tremendously important.

The voices of Oregon citizens are essential to ensuring the rulemaking process. But because the rulemaking process can sometimes be complex, people who care about issues like climate change do not always know how to take part. To help with that, we put together a ‘Rulemaking 101’ video to help clarify the process.

This video is a conversation featuring Bill Bradbury, former Oregon Secretary of State, and Hogan Sherrow, founder and president of ROCPAC (Rural Oregon Climate Political Action Committee). Questions addressed include ‘what is a rule?’ Answers deal with the examples of recent climate laws, including the new Executive Order (the Oregon Climate Action Plan) passed by the Governor in March 2020.

Click the video as Bill Bradbury and Hogan Sherrow walk us through Rulemaking 101: the power of the public voice and the rulemaking process in Oregon.

We hope you enjoyed the video! To learn more, check out these articles : Rulemaking: The Basics. Check back for new posts, we will be posting also information about public comment periods, as well as the strength building in coalitions.

Thank you for visiting the Southwestern Oregon Chapter of The Climate Reality Project. Click to learn more about our chapter, and more about The Climate Reality Project. If you are interested in joining our chapter, email us and/or apply.