Saving the Earth from the Trash Sweater: SOCRRA Event Inspires Families to Recycle

GallowayCollensTOPsunsetREVISEDSaving the Earth from the ferncareADTrash Sweater: SOCRRA Event Inspires Families to Recycle

(Crystal A. Proxmire, April 20, 2015)

Walking through the materials processing facility at SOCRRA, first grader Colin Bibbs was amazed by the mountains of paper, plastic and yard refuse kept outside for composting. With wide eyes he looked over the massive conveyer system that helps sort 80 tons of recycling a day, as he asked questions about the steps in the process. The Earth Day themed open house on Sunday gave the Bibbs and others an inside look at what happens after the big trucks come to haul the refuse away. For Bibbs it was a day full of excitement and learning.

Laura Blake was one of the SOCRRA employees giving tours. She explained how items get sorted, nicholas-schrock-allstateand the economic benefit. “When you recycle, the items can be sold and the city makes money on them. But when you throw things in the trash the city has to pay to have them taken away and put in a landfill.”

She said currently there is about 420 tons of recycling collected each week in SOCRRA communities, compared to 2,200 tons of trash.

At his home in Royal Oak, Bibbs helps keep his parents Christopher and Becky on their toes, reminding them of the importance of not putting recyclables in the trash. “You don’t have to take all your time to sort garbage, if you throw things away in the right spot,” he said.

“I’ve been wanting to see how recycling is changing the planet,” he said. “We need to recycle so we are not putting it all into space. It would go into seed_dc_06_dale_vigliarolo_april2015space and make a trash sweater around the earth. I don’t want that.” Bibbs also remembered having passed by a landfill. “It smelled and it was so big. Where will we put more trash?”

Joining Bibbs on the tour were Abbey Sollars of Ferndale and Rita Luhring of Troy. The girls marveled at how the plastics  and cardboard boxes had been crushed by balers and put into cubes that were nearly as big as they were. Stacks of the cubes formed a wall towards the back of the facility where the kids and their respective grown-ups had hot dogs and colored in books made of recycled paper. They learned that different kinds of paper have different lengths of fiber. Cardboard is the strongest because the fibers are the longest. Cardboard can be made into paper, and paper can be made into Candlewickshop_May2014paper towel or toilet paper. Then it’s the end of the line and it can’t be recycled any further.

“It’s so nice they have this on a Sunday,” said Sollar’s grandmother Janet Roberts. “I’m always looking for things to do on the weekend where she’s learning new things.”

For Savana Cline of Livonia, the open house was a dream come true. Her son Derek is Autistic and nothing makes him happier than garbage and recycling. He got a special one-on-one look at one of Tringali Sanitation’s recycling trucks.

Douglas Jones, who has been hauling recycling with Tringali for two years, showed the boy the different levers and let him see up close how the truck picks up large recycling bins and dumps the contents into the paper side or the container side. “This is so cool,” he said as he ranMBREW draft one around the truck, peeking underneath and climbing in the cab.

Cline said she’d been looking online for an event like this so she could show her son recycling and trash collection up close. “This is really great for the kids,” she said.  “Especially for Colin because he’s on the spectrum and it means a lot to him.  We’ve been looking for a while for something like this I could bring him to.”

It was good for the employees too. Jones said it felt good seeing kids so excited about the truck. “I love my job and after a few months it really got me doing more recycling at home myself.”

Harlie Swafford of St. Clair Shores works inside the facility sorting items. “It’s a little messy, but not bad,” she said. “And this is really cool, makes you think about how much what we do matters.”

Another fun part of the day was the fashion show. To drive home the different items that could modern natural baby inprogressbe recycled, Karen Bever and her staff made dresses out of the materials. Georgina Gordon made her runway debut on a platform made of recycled plastic wearing a dress made out of newspaper ad inserts. Lydia McMillan and Molly Blake also captured imaginations with dresses made out of Styrofoam cups, plastics, wrapping tissue, and plastic bags.  SOCRRA also takes metal, and the drop off facility can take hazardous materials, batteries, remote controls, grocery bags and other items.  A complete list can be found here.

Local groups were also invited to participate.  Among them was the Royal Oak Environmental Advisory Board.  Christine Hartwig and Tom Regan shared info about the group, which has created a map for bicyclists, cleaned up parks, encouraged the city to use LED lighting, presented classes on various green topics, and helped increase recycling rates in the city.  Hartwig said the biggest barrier to increasing recycling is that “it takes time, and it takes steele lindbloom adknowing information.  It’s just a matter of making it a habit and getting people started.”

SOCRRA is comprised of member communities who work together to have better trash disposal rates and a strong recycling program. Berkley, Beverly Hills, Birmingham, Clawson, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Lathrup Village, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak and Troy are all involved. Communities pay based on tonnage, and get rebates based on recycling.

To find out about SOCRRA tours and other recycling information, go to


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