Learn about BRING Recycling at their Oregon Country Fair booth, including the inspiration for some of their recycled sculptures and how people can get involved with their programs. Clifford relates how BRING serves the community and a little bit about it’s past, present and the future of recycling.
Bring Recycling at Energy Park
Transcription by Jade Rainsong
(Karen:) Looks like we’re coming up on some kids here riding a beautiful purple bike. Oh, and the bike blows bubbles out the front. It’s got a turning wheel, with some little little bubble wands that get dipped into some solution. A lot of fun kids are jumping around in front of this beautiful bike enjoying the bubbles.
(Onlooker:) Pedal faster! More bubbles!
(Karen:) It’s great. So another booth right here in energy Park is BRING Recycling. They’ve got all kinds of beautiful sculptures made here out of all kinds of interesting things. Hi, how’s it going?
(Clifford:) Good, just working the BRING booth here.
(Karen:) Excellent. You tell me what BRING means? What you guys do?
(Clifford:) Yes, well BRING stands for bringing recycling into neighborhood groups. And that’s originally what they did and fun fact the curbside recycling in Eugene was started by BRING Recycling. They started by signing up people who’d want to recycle their materials and they leave it out on the curb and we’d come and pick it up and help it get to the recycling place and then the City of Eugene took over for them. And that’s where you see the giant curbside Green Recycling and Eugene today.
(Karen:) And what’s your name?
(Clifford:) My name is Clifford.
(Karen:) How long have you been with BRING?
(Clifford:) A year and a half.
(Karen:) So are you a master recycler?
(Clifford:) Yes, one of the great benefits of working at BRING is they paid for me to take the master recyclers course through OSU and transfer station in the Glenwood area and you learn a lot about the different forms of recycling and that means, overnight classes, and that was a lot of fun.
(Karen:) So do you guys have classes for the public? I’ve seen that you have a wonderful facility and there’s so much beautiful art in here made out of trash. It looks like I wonder about that.
(Clifford:) Yeah, there is I mean, we do tours- you can always go and check in with our education coordinator and do a tour of the facility. The master recycler program is open to the public- you pay to take it.
(Karen:) Is that at BRING?
(Clifford:) No, that’s at the it’s through the transfer station, also known as the dump, and the climate area that dosen’t go to the landfill, but they have a great recycling organization drive-through drop-off going on there as well. You can sign up through their website to take it. It’s OSU, you know, the go beavers college.com and you can sign up and it’s an online course and you can go in and do the every Tuesday course there and get your master recycler certification.
(Karen:) So looks like you’re educating the public here at this booth at Country Fair all about recycling. Do people come in and get drawn in by this beautiful Dragon here made of all kinds of metal things.
(Clifford:) The dragon is our main draw. We had a really great metal artist who did our walls there at BRING Recycling and the Glenwood area and he had an apprentice who was this teenager and she did this about 13 with all things she found around BRINGat the time.
(Karen:) I see keys…
(Clifford:) …wrenches and tools… and just everything. And she did such a great job and we use it every year.
(Karen:) Yeah, it’s about three feet tall. It’s got a great patina on it. Looks like there’s scissors and keys and bolts and wrenches…
(Clifford:) We get a lot of senior citizens who look at that and go ‘No!Ford wrenches from 1920! Argg! I’m so angry.
(Karen:). They recognize those right away. Yeah, that’s great. Well, it’s a wonderful thing to bring them into the booth that you can start talking about recycling. And has recycling changed recently and Eugene? I know that there was some changes with what you could recycle.
(Clifford:) Yeah, there was the plastic ban that happened.It’s changed a little bit but I think it’s a little bit for the best because it makes people more conscience about what they can and can’t do with it.On the negative side people who were originally conscious about recycling are upset about it because I could, and now I can’t, now what do I do? They come to us for questions they call people and we tell them what we can.Unfortunately, without the public’s forced to have something to do about it,a lot of it ends up in the landfill that’s been rejected by that current ban.
(Karen:) So tell me about this plastics ban. What who is banning it? And how’s that working?
(Clifford:) So originally China would take in plastics not just from the United States, but from all over the world and they had programs and they would you know do their thing with it. And they would eventually recycle it press it down. Try to reuse it. It’s what we call cross-contamination and recycling where say THIS can go in the recycling and people throw THAT in recycling and it gets just commingled and becomes dirty and China actually dealt with that for many, many years and was complaining no one really listen to them. And finally they just said, you know enough is enough. We’re not going to take your dirty recycling anymore.
(Karen:) So that was the main reason why they did that. Oh.
(Clifford:) And that’s the very that’s a positive China way of looking at it.
(Karen:) One way of looking at it. Do you know about anything that’s being done to you know help with the situation where we can recycle plastic again locally?
(Clifford:) Well, there’s always the bottle returns that are coming up and short of bottles, the bigger issues have been milk cartons- things that are lined not just with recyclable cardboard, but refrigerant metals that you wouldn’t think we’re in the products that you’re using. The bottle returns do a great job of even if they don’t have a code on it, they have another section where you can bring it and still get a return on it. Otherwise, it’s just the plastic factory.
(Karen:) And so what’s one takeaway you want people to get when they come to this booth at Country Fair? What’s the one thing you really want to impart to them?
(Clifford:) Well the booth is just a great example… around here we have things have been welded together and it’s… the biggest message is that you can reuse items that others want to throw away. Whether it’s conventional or artistic you can, you know, whip it together and make something out of it.
(Karen:) Make something new out of something you would otherwise throw away, right?
(Clifford:) Our main revenue is off the waste stream that would have otherwise headed to the landfill and it’s perfectly good reusable materials- plywoods, brick, stoves, ovens…. people just don’t want it. But other people do.
(Karen:) So you can take in all sorts of appliances and metal and all kinds of stuff at the BRING warehouse and then other people can come by… it kind of like shopping for bigger items you wouldn’t find it a regular thrift store…
(Clifford:) We prefer to take reusable, dimensional products, you know every now and then we got to be picky. We’ve got eight acres worth of stuff on two acres of land. So eventually we have some people upset that we wouldn’t take what they didn’t want. One of the funnier aspects is ‘Well this would make a great little garden ring’. So it’s like ‘Well go make a garden ring out of it then!’ and but, you know, we do what we can and we have a lot of great educational demonstrations and we have the RETHINK business certification that’s also through BRING, which is where we do a waste audit on businesses- show them what they’ve been throwing away, what could be recycled, and you know, how they could do differently how they could save a lot of money by switching up how they do business.
(Karen:) And do a lot of businesses locally take advantage of that?
(Clifford:) Yeah, we have over 200 local Eugene businesses that are RETHINK certified.
(Karen:) Wow, that’s a that’s a big number. That’s great. So that’s something they can proudly display on their wall. That they’re certified and they’re making a difference with the trash, the waste stream.
(Clifford:) Yeah, we created a cool little medal, it’s like a bike spoke thing that they can hang up on their wall. But really it’s just about recyclable this and that, compostable cups, reusable this….
(Karen:) Different way of thinking about it because so often especially in the past we were just programmed to just throw everything away, like, disposable society, disposable everything.
(Clifford:) And you know, it can be convenient to be reusable. A lot of people think that it’s just, you know cellophane over the top throw it away when you’re done, but there’s so many different alternatives. You can just look it up.
(Karen:) Fantastic. Thank you for your time today.