Recycling Angels

The Tri-City Herald and Visiting Angels of Kennewick have forged a partnership in an effort to produce less waste. Twice a week, recyclables that otherwise would have made their way to landfill are brought to the Tri-City Herald collection bins.

On one of my regular visits to their office, I had the pleasure of discussing the effect of a new recycling program on a small business. Anne Craff, director of Visiting Angels, and Bernadette Valenzuela, assistant director, had valuable opinions and insights.

When I asked about the effect the new program has had on their staff, the first response was, “They're proud, we should have done it sooner, when we started saving we didn't realize it would happen so fast, so easily,” Anne said.

Bernadette said the biggest challenge for her staff with the new recycling program was building momentum and changing habits.

The outcome from this new challenge include more than moral reinforcement. Anne said she will be reducing the number of visits from Waste Management from weekly to bi-monthly. This change will save Recycling Angels around $50 a month. It is so sweet to do the right thing, and reap some tactile rewards in the process.

They added to this by pointing out that if a business could cut their waste down enough, it would be practically free to use employee time to take out the recycling when necessary.

Anne has bigger ideas, too. She said she has noticed major waste issues with local businesses in the downtown Kennewick area.

“More than three years it's been a terrible issue with the area dumpsters being overloaded” she said. With multiple building units sharing waste receptacles, it is common to see the trash bins pouring over into the alley as a scavenging ground for area creatures.

Anne and I had a look at the dumpsters together the following week. They held a bounty of recyclable cardboard boxes and bags that obviously hadn't been sorted to prevent waste. I tapped on one of the bags just for kicks and my knuckles met the side of an aluminum can. I couldn't help but laugh, sometimes that's all you can do when initially facing a problem such as this.

With Anne and Bernadette's help, we are continuously discussing methods to prevent further waste in the community, and potentially taking this grassroots effort farther. I am elated that I have found new people with inspiration and ideas to give, and the enthusiasm to continue driving our efforts to achieve greater environmental responsibility at the Herald.

-- James Steffens is a graphic artist for the Herald and says he chooses green because it’s “right.”