Trash for thought

Dear Editor:

I would like to thank last year’s winner at Trashion Fashion for helping contribute and raise the bar on the age limit to “13 and over.” Many of our young creative artists will miss out experiencing and being creative within the art community in the valley. Maybe the restriction and limit should be placed on the creative adults, the abundant nonprofits, and the for-profit organizations.

I guess I’m expressing my sarcastic — and disappointed — opinion. Wasn’t the Trashion show created to increase awareness about waste, recycling, art and beauty? The kids were encouraged to participate in this event before, but I must have missed the memo because now they have decided to put an age restriction. Why? Nudity? Alcohol? Revenue? What?

Has it become about the adults dressing up and having fun — not recycling, or even art? As far as I’m concerned it really has turned into trash, an adult party with an excuse to dress up, drink and make believe about the goodness of recycling. I asked one of the students who participated last year (she is 12 now) if she was participating in this year’s event and she said yes. I was surprised to hear this. Exceptions to rules, I guess?

As we know, our younger generation is very influenced by their surroundings — what the adults demonstrate. I have taken my grandchildren to every Trashion show, so each year I could see their imagination and the wheels turning with excitement, creativity, and awareness about recycling and waste. Now they can’t go or even participate. Why? What was the decision based on?

Jill Allen and Jeremiah Lemont, Twisp

Keep welding program going

Dear Editor:

I would like to offer some excerpts from a letter I recently wrote to Liberty Bell High School Principal Deborah DeKalb and Methow Valley School District Superintendent Tom Venable, informing them that I do not plan to re-apply for the welding position at Liberty Bell. I have decided for personal and professional reasons that I am through with my formal education career.

It is with great reluctance that I make this decision as I strongly feel the welding program is an important element in Liberty Bell’s CTE program. I’ve obviously invested a lot of my own time and talents in re-establishing this course and don’t want to see it go away. I also want to remind you both of the huge amount of financial and in-kind support the community put forth to get this program up and running and has continued to offer it. Over $24,000 in initial cash was donated by our community along with another $10,000-plus worth of supplies, tools and materials. The in-kind hours of labor contributed were huge. In addition to that initial support, the program has received over $10,000 in grants and donations from individuals, organizations and foundations over the last three years.

I encourage you both to begin recruiting someone to fill this teaching position as soon as possible. I will actively seek out and encourage any qualified individuals to contact the district regarding this upcoming position.

It has been an honor to work with you two as a team and my fellow staff members to help our young folks expand their skills, experiences and potential for the future. I will continue to support the school’s programs and goals in the future in any way I can.

Barry Stromberger, Twisp

Bravo for Camp

Dear Editor:

Regarding the Okanogan County District Court case against Judy B. Camp:

Bravo and congratulations to the jury for finding Ms. Camp not guilty on the charges of “stealing a pet” and “making a false statement to a public servant.” Certainly Ms. Camp could and obviously should have done things differently, just as Ms. Magruder could and should have been a more responsible pet owner — though it strikes me Ms. Camp’s heart was at least in the right place.

The best possible outcome will be that the “local animal welfare group” succeeds in creating an animal shelter and revises local animal cruelty laws to assure this type of animal neglect and abuse is recognized for what it is and will not be condoned and repeated.

Phil Andresen, Olympia

Why you need a BlueBag

Dear Editor:

Thanks for Tania’s great cartoon last week and for the article about increasing plastics collection. An important detail was unclear in the article, which raised questions immediately for Methow Recycles and WasteWise, so I’d like to clear up any confusion.

In addition to all of the different materials Methow Recycles has accepted for recycling for years, we are now encouraging the use of the BlueBag system by recycling self-haulers for the items we are not able to accept directly. These include plastic tubs and coated cartons. We are not encouraging the inclusion of these with the other, sorted materials we accept at the center.

Plastic tubs, salad boxes, and coated cartons are low-value materials with volatile markets, and so they have always been a no-go for Methow Recycles. With the advent of commingled recycling collection offered by WasteWise, we have a new option, but it’s important that folks understand it’s a “pay to play” option — similar to our glass program, but stricter. BlueBags are a WasteWise program, and the contents of the bags are combined with the commingled recycling they collect from recycling collection subscribers. Commingled recycling is delivered to Methow Recycles where we bale it without sorting, and send it to a large Waste Management sorting facility in Spokane. Their economies of scale allow them to handle these materials and access (or create) markets for them.

We have gained access to these markets because of commingled recycling, but it’s not free. We’ve created a set of options allowing recyclers to pay for the handling of the materials — either through a WasteWise subscription or purchase of a BlueBag. There is not a third option for local recycling of these plastics. When they get tossed in with the other plastics we collect at the center this actually increases our costs, and our volunteers end up pulling them out. Then they ask me to do a better job of explaining things!

Of course the best option is to use as little plastic as possible. For those other times, there’s always a BlueBag.

I’ll be giving tours at Methow Recycles on Saturday (April 26) from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. and will be happy to answer any questions.

Happy Earth Week!

Betsy Cushman, Executive Director, Methow Recycles