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Recycling educator to work with schools, businesses

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Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County and the Development Authority of the North Country have formed a partnership to try to increase recycling and composting in schools and businesses.

An educator, Sayre Stevens, will go to schools and businesses in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties to see what recycling and composting programs they offer and provide suggestions for improvement.

“I know it’s hard to imagine, but there are some schools not recycling in some capacity,” said Stephanie A. Graf, the extension’s youth and family development program leader. “The educator at extension will be looking at changing people’s behavior, and that’s hard work.”

Richard R. LeClerc, general manager of DANC’s solid waste management division, said change will occur incrementally. Recycling should be encouraged for many reasons, he said.

“Frankly, it’s something people are unaware of that it’s the law — you’re required to separate your recyclables from your waste,” he said. “Typically, an individual also pays by weight, or volume, of waste, but you don’t pay for disposing of recycles. There’s an economic advantage.”

Recycling practices are different in each north country county, which is something Mr. Stevens will remind businesses and schools. In Jefferson County, Mr. LeClerc said, recyclables are separated into many categories, while they are separated into two streams in Lewis County and a single stream in St. Lawrence County. Recycling rates typically increase when counties use single-stream practices, he said, because it is the most convenient option.

DANC is happy to be a part of the partnership, Mr. LeClerc said, because it continues to move forward with a tri-county waste management facility in Rodman. Getting everyone on the same page within Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties is the goal.

Mr. LeClerc said the goal of the program is simple — recycle all items that should be recycled because it not only is good for the environment, but also will slow the filling of DANC’s regional landfill.

During the first year of the program, Mrs. Graf said, the extension office and DANC hope to get at least one school in each county to have a full recycling and composting program. While the initial push is geared more toward the recycling component, Mr. LeClerc said, composting also plays a large role in reducing the amount of waste sent to the landfill.

Compost can be stored in any container and should be turned manually with a pitchfork, or within a specialized container that has a crank to mix compost items. Those items may include twigs, grass, leaves and any food product that is not meat or dairy.

Vanessa L. McKinney, the extension’s community development coordinator of energy programs, said that mix will provide a rich soil to add to one’s yard. Compost is commonly used in gardens and for flower planting.

For more information about the program, call Mr. Stevens at 788-8450, ext. 235.

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