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By Mark Peterson

Every now and again when you get recognized for your hard work, it is such a huge boost for morale and motivation, and also provides the chance to hoist a glass! We are pleased to announce that Sustainable Connections has been awarded the 2019 Non-profit Recycler of the Year by the Washington State Recycling Association. What makes the award even sweeter is that it was presented by our colleague, supporter, waste reduction advocate, and all-around great guy, Rodd Pemble, of Sanitary Services Company.

This recognition of our longstanding commitment to reducing waste in our community is a welcome accolade as the state of waste reduction has been challenging. With less and less demand for recyclable materials, and fewer options for businesses and individuals to divert their waste from landfill, it feels at times like waste reduction is dead. This is of course not the case! And now more than ever, it is important to keep finding ways to reduce the amount of waste we produce as a society and also responsibly deal with the waste we do produce.

Mark Peterson of Sustainable Connections and Washington State Recycling Association President Ron Jones.

Why are waste reduction and recycling important? For starters, a recent study indicates that over 45% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are a result of our linear, extracting-virgin-materials, and throw-away behaviors. Another study shows that reducing food waste alone is one of the top things we can do to mitigate climate change. Looking at waste reduction in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change is sobering enough but even more so when you consider the massive impact that wayward wastes have on our environment. From plastic ocean pollution to highway litter, our bad waste habits surround us on a daily basis. Call me biased, but I believe it’s high time we elevate minimizing consumption and waste reduction to their rightful places on the throne as two of the most important endeavors in preserving this planet we all call home.

Times like these, when it seems like the solutions and motivations to make changes are slim, are exactly when awards and recognition help keep us keeping on. I do my best to be a realist and also an optimist, and I still hold out hope that we can do better. And we didn’t win this award on our own—we are both grateful and humbled to be bringing the congratulatory hardware back to Whatcom County as proof positive that together communities can make changes for the better…even when it comes to trash.

We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all of those who have supported our Toward Zero Waste campaign over the past decade. Our sponsors, businesses participants, volunteers, and the community at large should feel proud of what we together have accomplished. We can also take solace in the fact that we are and will continue to make positive changes for our community and our planet.

So, grab your beverage of choice and hoist your glass and toast to our current and future Toward Zero Waste successes. Thank you all and…CHEERS!

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