Save the Sound Intern Engages Youth with Recycling Education

As part of Save the Sound’s commitment to reducing plastic waste in our rivers and streams, our Climate and Policy interns, Adrienne Baxter, Nicole Freitas and Prabisha Bhandari, are holding a four-part series focused on plastic reduction in local initiatives and policies. The key findings of this series will inform equitable and effective decisions on reducing single-use plastic to bolster our efforts in supporting clean and sustainable communities.

In this blog crafted by our Summer Climate Policy Intern Adrienne Baxter, we recap a recycling education-focused workshop we co-hosted last month with the Nonprofit Accountability Group (NAG) and Sunrise Movement Connecticut.

Our team would like to give a special thanks to NAG and Sunrise for their collaboration, and Adrienne for assembling recycling education materials for youth and all their great work this Summer.

Save the Sound had a blast at the Nonprofit Accountability Group’s (NAG) summer program on July 17, 2022. NAG is a non-profit organization that works with communities and organizations to facilitate anti-racist practices and undo the historic harms committed against Black communities and communities of color. They teach decolonization practices that include building healthy relationships, redistributing resources, and organizational cross-collaboration.

This past Summer, NAG hosted a free Youth Camping Program to support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), LGBTQ, and disabled persons. The program provides an immersive outdoor educational experience for young people ages 13-18 to explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), hiking, camping, and civic engagement.

In light of the recent shutdown of the Hartford Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority (MIRA) incinerator, CT needs to invest in renewable systems that effectively reduce, reuse, and recycle materials. Save the Sound joined forces with Sunrise CT in hosting a Recycling and Bottle Painting workshop with NAG youth.

My supervisor, Save the Sound Environmental Justice Specialist Alex Rodriguez, and I presented recycling educational materials and hosted a bottle painting event! We provided the NAG youth summer program with reusable aluminum bottles to customize and limit the need for individual plastic bottles on their camping trips!

It is crucial for recycling to be highlighted in every media channel possible in a way that incentivizes people. According to the EPA, 292.4 million tons of waste were produced in 2018, and only 69 million tons were recycled. These 69 million tons of recyclables contribute to the conservation of natural resources, reduction in extractive practices (like drilling, deforestation, and mining), greenhouse gas emissions, and create renewable job markets.

Recycling allows for used materials to be collected, sorted, and cleaned to be turned back into raw materials for new products, instead of being dumped in landfills, burned in incinerators, and polluting the ocean. Recycling contributes to a circular economy and is 6 times cheaper to recycle than landfilling and incineration. The movement to improve recycling in our communities is part of the solution to the impending climate crisis.

Much of the concepts of recycling, zero waste, and minimalism pillars of knowledge are derived from sustainable and reciprocal practices BIPOC communities have been perfecting for thousands of years.

Supporting and collaborating with organizations with an intersectional justice lens, like NAG, is essential to ensure that young people have the resources and the connections they need to innovate, thrive, and achieve environmental justice for their communities. An intersectional lens will lead us all to a brighter future.


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