Submitted by Lopez Dump
It’s Wednesday morning, and a group of guys has gathered around the baler shed with hot coffee in hand. They survey the scene: five washers; two barbecues; an old kitchen range; and four bins of assorted metal objects. With sledgehammers and tools, they get to work. The camaraderie is infectious — laughs peel out amidst the sound of tools clanging and large bulky metal items being deconstructed. The “Recycle Dogs” as their logoed hardhats identify them, speak about their work as “half anger management therapy, half free gym workout.” These folks take pleasure in helping densify metal objects so they are easier and more efficient to ship off-island. This helps reduce fossil fuels and carbon emissions, as well as labor costs to drivers. But that’s not why they do it; not really. They do it because it’s FUN! The Recycle Dogs genuinely enjoy their bimonthly morning meetings, and the community benefits from their good time.
The Recycle Dogs is just one of many “special ops” volunteer teams that deserve acknowledgment and gratitude for their work behind the scenes making our island cleaner, more fun, more efficient and more effective.
Of course, recycle plaza volunteers that are in front of the scenes deserve abundant thanks as well for all the help they provide rain or shine.
Now, jump to Grace Hall, where another group of volunteers is surrounded by T-shirts sorted in accordance with color, pattern and logo. These T-shirts have been saved by Lopez Solid Waste Disposal District volunteers at the Take It or Leave It, and have now become the working palates of inspiration for the “Shirt to Skirt” makers. This group of committed textile artists has fun creating themed skirts, pairing logos, mixing and matching patterns and color into wearable art. The designed and cut skirt pieces then go to volunteers working with sewing machines and sergers. End product? Up-cycled skirts that are sold at farmers’ market Saturdays and craft bazaars on Lopez to raise money for the Solid Waste Alternatives Program — the Friends of the Dump 501(c)3 nonprofit.
Many thanks also go out to the volunteers of the twice-yearly “Repair Cafés” hosted at the Lopez Library. This is where Lopezians come out with their tools and expertise to help their fellow islanders do simple fixes that restore items back to working order. This year, lamps and radios got fixed, vacuum cleaners returned to use, and precious garments and favorite jewelry pieces were returned to wearable condition.
Twenty-nineteen also saw a rise in Spanish and English speaking events, thanks to Spanish teacher Claudio Pellegrino and his wife Stephanie. They did free translations and are helping bridge the language divide between the Spanish and English speaking communities. Visitors may have seen evidence of this in bilingual labels in the recycle plaza and Take It or Leave It.
Speaking of everyone’s favorite free shopping mall, there are several groups of invisible heroes who come in before and after working hours to vacuum, dust, organize and help keep the Take It or Leave It clean and organized. Once the gates open official LSWDD volunteers move 500-800 pounds per hour of donations on average (that’s 2,000 pounds of new donations daily) into clean, orderly areas. To date, LSWDD volunteers have contributed 2,306 hours of work on-site!
But don’t forget the host of countless Lopezian “regular shoppers” who pitch in to help folks move heavy furniture; organize the mountains of books; tidy and straighten up; and just generally contribute to what many still fondly call “Neil’s Mall” in honor of its founder Neil Hansen who remains a constant inspiration.
More 2019 reuse projects have continued: like the free mug box at Lopez Coffee Shop started by Lopez student Hazel Arden. TIOLI contributes mugs, and now customers have caught on as well and give their extra mugs to the cause as well. Also, many thanks to the on going bag bin in front of Blossom Grocery supported entirely by volunteers. Perhaps you have benefited from a free reusable bag just when you needed one or perhaps you deserve a well-earned thank you for contributing your clean reusable bags to the lower portion’s donation area. Either way, thank you for reusing!
A new project that has just begun by another LSWDD volunteer is getting the black agricultural pots that are no longer recyclable to a nearby mainland nursery who is elated to have this free resource.
These are just some of the good news stories from our tiny but mighty Lopez Solid Waste Disposal District. We are so grateful to each and every volunteer — from the ones on-site to all those who contribute in all kinds of ways to make our island a leader in reducing, reusing and recycling. Thank you from all of us at LSWDD and SWAP for all that you do. We look forward to continuing to deepen in 2020 — The Year of Vision.