The school year is almost over and we are giving our final 4th grade tours at the Fremont irecycle@school Education Center. Since the beginning of the year, we have had two major additions to the Ed Center. There is a beautiful mural of a tropical marine habitat reminding visitors that storm water drains go directly to the bay; it is not cleaned before it flows into creeks, rivers, estuaries and oceans. Which means it is very important to keep trash as well as toxic liquids like motor oil off our streets so they don't pollute our water. Please drop-off your household hazardous waste at the collection center at the Transfer Station.
Another addition is a flat panel TV screen in-between our Reduce and Recycle station that gives up-to-the-minute information about solar energy collection in the solar panels at the facility. The 1,700 solar panels that have been installed create up to 90% of the energy that the whole facility needs to be run. During our presentation, we explain to the students how these solar panels are a perpetual renewable energy and what a valuable contribution this facility is doing to reduce their carbon footprint.
The biggest difference at the Transfer Station since the beginning of the year, say some of the staff, is that their recycling intake has increased. It seems to be a trendthat each year the recycling intake increases from the previous year. Administrative staff added that the volume of phone calls from the public asking about what can and can't be thrown into the recycling bin has increased. I hope this means that the people are becoming more aware of how important it is to recycle correctly – putting the right thing in the right place.
Bruce Fritz, the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Manager, has noticed an increase in the volume of HHW that the public is dropping off. The winter season is usually the slowest season, he said, but this year there was a lot more traffic than in previous winters. In addition, he has noticed how much the Reuse area of HHW is being utilized. If what the public drops off at the HHW facility is still useable, for example, cans of paint, an employee puts these products on a shelf in the Reuse room for other residents to come by and take for free. All you have to do for this service is be an Alameda County resident and fill out a waiver.
I cannot help but wonder how much our StopWaste.Org education programs help with these increasing trends. We will continue our efforts to spread the 4R's to as many 4th grade classrooms and schools in Alameda County in the years to come and we look forward to seeing these trends increase and practicing the 4R's become a way of life.