Off the Press

April 5, 2011

By Laura Geggel

Recycling in Issaquah is a not-so-dirty job

My grandma spoils my sweet tooth. For holidays, birthdays or just for a lark, she’ll whip up a chocolate cherry cake or a marble pound cake, box it and mail it across the whole county, straight to me.

Laura Geggel Press reporter

Her famous kiffles — thin dough wrapped around a bounty of nuts and jelly — always disappear quickly, but the packaging peanuts stick around, and not just static-electricity wise.

For years, I am ashamed to admit, I would throw them away. In my defense, I didn’t know what to do with them. I would reuse them if I could, but it wasn’t often I needed packaging peanuts to send presents.

Now. as an avid recycler, I know just what to do with packaging peanuts. The UPS Store on Northwest Gilman Boulevard will take and reuse them. The store also recycles bubble wrap, another helpful packaging tool that often gets tossed into the trash once its work is done.

Now that I have a venue to recycle packaging material, I started thinking of places I could recycle other things, like plastic bags, cellphones or alkaline batteries.

It turns out that Issaquah is a haven for recycling just about everything.

The nonprofit 1 Green Planet, on Northwest Maple Street, provides free recycling and pickup services. Anyone who calls its hotline at 866-422-3755 can recycle vehicles, cellphones, ink and toner, medical equipment, batteries, computers, scrap metal, electronics and appliances.

Not a bad deal, but they’re not the only ones in town.

QFC recycles plastic bags. Best Buy, another business in Issaquah, recycles electronics and screens up to 32 inches in size. If the appliance has a glass screen, the store charges a $10 fee, but then gives you a $10 store credit.

Staples also takes a range of stuff — alkaline batteries, printers, old phones, speakers and computer monitors, for which it also charges $10. Customers can enter a program to get money back for their ink cartridges, General Manager Dennis McRae said.

The store is getting a new Dumpster so it can recycle plastic, and McRae said he couldn’t wait because now the store throws away its plastic packaging.

AtWork!, an organization that helps people with disabilities learn valuable work skills, has a recycling center that draws people from as far east as Snoqualmie Pass, Director of Development Jane Kuechle said.

The 24/7 drop-off center sells its recycled materials to various companies and uses the profits to support its mission of helping people with disabilities. Learn more at www.atworkwa.org.

AtWork! Is the king of recycling, taking all things paper and cardboard, including phone books. It also accepts cellphone and some electronics, scrap metal — such as pots and pans — cabling, washers as well as plastic and glass.

If you bring more than 20 pounds of aluminum cans, the center will actually pay you for your deposit, with a sweet deal ranging from 17 cents to 21 cents per pound.

People can also donate clothing to AtWork! Garments that are no longer wearable are recycled into rags or reprocessed into fibers for paper, upholstery or insulation materials. If the clothes cannot be reused or recycled, they are composted.

Talk about earth-friendly.

I compost food scraps at home. Every time I put carrot peels or apple cores into my compost bucket, I feel awesome about myself. I don’t have to empty the garbage container in my kitchen as much, which means I save money on garbage bags.

During an interview with Issaquah Middle School teacher Olga Haider, who received an Earth Heroes at School award from King County, we talked about the motivations students have for recycling.

“Kids are idealistic,” she said. “They’re at that point in their lives where they really do believe in right and wrong. When they believe it’s right, they go for it.”

I may not be too different from those students. Recycling saves space in landfills and it helps prevent harmful chemicals from seeping into our environment.

Even my grandma is conscious of the materials she uses. She’s switched from packaging peanuts to using newspapers when she sends her treats.

“Anything that will keep the cake from jiggling and breaking,” she said.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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