Conversations with EcoGeneration: Audio Only Video on You Tube
Listen along as Kelly Bell and David Gardiepy discuss the day to day challenges of operating EcoGeneration.
We started in Cottage Grove because there is no curbside recycling in Cottage Grove. Then as the recycling Take Back grew, people in Creswell heard about it and started coming. From a carbon footprint standpoint, it made much more sense to do a Recycling Take Back™ in Creswell. As donations allowed, we grew to more locations. Oakridge, Sheldon, Florence. One collection is not that expensive, but when you start doing large collections frequently, you realize you need tables, and tents, and people, and locations, and then you need insurance. To spread information, you need a website and marketing materials. It just snowballed, and I think we have done a pretty good job meeting the snowball effect as quickly as we can.
...Effects of the Pandemic
We were required to get general liability insurance in order to operate out of a city location. When we got it, Covid was still overseas, but our attorneys recommended that we get coverage for it anyway. So when it hit, we stopped collections for the 30 day stay-at-home order, but then a lot of stuff was going to the landfill. But, people’s desire to recycle did not stop. Plastic generation did not stop. Even with the pandemic, recycling was still on people’s minds.
We were able to prove that we were an essential service, and we wanted to show that there was a way to safely collect plastic even with pre-existing conditions. Covid is not going anywhere, plastics are not going anywhere; and we have to learn to safely deal with our plastics despite this situation.
...A Labor of Love
The demand is higher and the expectation for this free service is higher, but the financial support is imperative. Rural areas like Cottage Grove and Florence have been so appreciative and supportive of our services. The community comes out and volunteers their time, making sure things go smoothly, and financially supporting collections. But, not everyone is respectful, not every location has been as supportive. We have people dump garbage, or yell at volunteers.
To stay in Eugene we need the community to support us at events - the average Recycling Take Back™ cost is $560 for one event - not including wages. We raised $43 at the last 2020 Eugene event. We are literally redeeming bottles and cans to pay for gas to transport plastics.
We are looking at over 17,000 tons diverted from the landfill at this point but, we still have a long way to go. We want to reduce Oregonians’ footprint, not just by recycling, but by education and reduction of plastic use overall.