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Presents, presence, precedents: County a model for rural recycling

Guest Opinion

If the giving of presents is measured in pounds, area residents have presented Idaho County Recycling (ICR) with 3,480,483 gifts since 2009. (Okay, students! Figure out the tons). Every week, various “sleighs” (cars, trucks, U-Hauls, horse trailers, flatbeds, bicycles and motorcycles) arrive with carefully packaged cans, cardboard, paper and plastics.

Each week is like a combination Christmas and birthday party as ICR grows older with old and new friends and presents that continue to exceed expectations.  ICR has been a presence in our communities for over six years and now boasts four sites (in Kooskia, Cottonwood, Riggins and Grangeville). Area businesses, schools, agencies, hospitals and residents have made these sites busy and viable. In 2015, ICR collected an average of 60,000 pounds each month and, to-date, the total for 2015 is 94,000 pounds over 2014 . . .a 15 percent increase. The success and growth of this grass-roots recycling program in Idaho County has also become the “can”-do model for rural recycling in Idaho. This little idea with a big attitude created its own momentum with the help of county commissioners, the ICR steering committee, volunteers and patrons.

So now we’re approaching another holiday season and its array of gifting opportunities. The Grinch-news is that ICR collection sites can’t accept gift or bubble wrap, tissue paper or plastic packaging. However, the joyful news is that there are many fun alternatives. As you contemplate your Christmas gift list, allow some quiet, leisure time (with a nice cup of tea and holiday cookie) to consider some creative opportunities:

Packages can be sweetly wrapped in colorful newspaper (the comics section!), lengths of fabric, quilt blocks, a collage of cut-out images, brown craft paper, dish and hand towels, decorated paper bags, ready-made shopping bags or easy-to-make bags using woven plastic bird-seed or pet food containers. Custom-sized, lidded boxes can be easily fashioned from flat, flexible cardboard pieces and uniquely decorated with old Christmas cards construction paper, paint, etc. Instead of ribbon, tie up your gifts with reusable parachute cord, fabric strips, leather cord, clothesline, hemp rope or raffia . . . and for a farm/ranch theme, use baling twine or “lite” barbed wire — very carefully!  As a substitute for ribbon rosettes, incorporate feathers, evergreen branches, moss, pine cones, dried flowers, stalks of grain, twigs, a cluster of bells. Let your imagination loose!

Homemade presents are always appreciated — with the added bonus of great personal satisfaction in the production. How ‘bout putting together some baking or hot drink mixes in a useful container, a start of a favorite house plant in a decorative pot, a personalized gift card for some future service (kid or pet sitting, a meal delivery on a busy day, a monthly dessert, a day of house, garden or shop work etc.), a themed gift basket (garden, bath, pet, baking, picnic) and, of course, a selection of yummy holiday candy/cookie/bread treats— the mainstay of holiday energy!

And here’s the season’s snazziest decorating idea! Before transporting that pile of empty gallon milk jugs to the nearest recycling site, give them a holiday reprieve. First weight the bottom of each jug with sand, gravel or water, then place at intervals along a walkway or arrange on the porch or deck. Using a string of large-bulb outdoor lights, place a bulb in the opening of each jug to create colorful cheap luminaries which become even more festive with the sparkle of fresh snow.  (Of course, we’ll have snow for Christmas!)

ICR volunteer crews have been loyally consistent in keeping the area collection sites open during regular weekly hours — but for this holiday season, the Grangeville and Cottonwood locations will be closed Dec. 26. They will be ready and eager to resume collection of your recyclables on Jan. 2 — including those worn-out electronics, kaput Christmas lights and the multitude of holiday “leftovers” (cans, cards, plastics, cardboard etc.). 

If you haven’t visited a recycling site yet, put that on your list of New Year’s Resolutions! We’d love to see you and explain our guidelines and facilities. In the meantime, all the folks at ICR wish you the happiest of holiday giving, caring and sharing. 

Recycling: The gift that keeps on giving.


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