W.R.A.P. Report by Carolyn Norback
Reading Charles Blount’s Wrap article in the September issue of the Clarion started my walk down memory lane. Way back around 20+ years ago, a small group of inspired Walpole, Drewsville and North Walpole people had the idea Walpole was a progressive enough town to support a recycling center. I believe the founding members of The WRAP Committee were Fritze Till, Peg & John Stevens, George Watkins, Roger Weil, Bill Beer, and Bud Bridges (and if I left anyone out, blame it on my sometimes rather faulty recollection). This band of recyclers worked long and hard to gain support of the town and select board, and finally bring into existence our current Recycling Center. First they had to engage a buyer for our recycled product, second to find a facility to actually be a recycling center, and third (I’m sure there are more steps) a physical place to sort, recycle and store products until pickup. Whew!, a tall order any way you look at it.
The first center was located on Route 123 just next to the old landfill. Rick Cooper was the first center manager, and the only paid worker, everyone else was an unpaid volunteer. There was one trailer/boxcar where recyclables were processed and stored. Glass, newspapers and cardboard were the early acceptable (or sellable) items. In the beginning, there were three 50 gallon drums for green, brown and clear glass. I believe newspapers were separated by glossy and newsprint and cardboard was broken down with box cutters donated by Russ LaCroix, owner of the local IGA. However, it wasn’t long before Peg Stevens organized and womaned another trailer/boxcar to support the REUSE portion of the center. So, off to a good start, all that was needed was a rotating schedule of willing volunteers. That job (volunteer scheduling) I believe was headed up by Peg Stevens. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm had to be covered. Twenty-four hours of coverage takes a lot of volunteers, and somehow it happened. Initially, we signed up for 4 hour shifts. Now, of course, because the center is so competently organized, 2 hour shifts are the norm. My favorite shift was Saturday, 8:00 – 12:00 pm. Then lunch at Murray’s as a reward.
Crushing glass: first we sorted brown, green and clear. The glass crusher was a long pipe with a foot at the end which we used to crush the glass by hand, and remove that green plastic from wine bottle necks (time consuming). Fortunately, we were supplied with safety goggles. When a used glass crusher was purchased, it was a day of celebration. Bottles with return deposits were sorted and returned. Newspapers had to be sorted to remove the glossy ads, (I think we also accepted household paper at this time) separated, of course, and put into paper bags. As time went on, recycling became a large part of Walpole life, the center expanded exponentially, and finally outgrew the space allotted and moved to the wonderfully organized facility we know today.
As that old saying goes, “everything old is new again”, it is still a good deed to remove caps from bottles, be aware that only #1 PETE and #2 HDPE are acceptable to recycle, newsprint still has to be separated, and soda and beer cans should be empty and rinsed, especially in the summer months.
As much as we depend on the staff and volunteers to make up the bulk of work in the recycling center, we all need to do our part to make sure this is an enduring part of Walpole life. If volunteering at the center is not possible, then be aware and follow recycling rules. As Charles Blount so elegantly put it, we all need to “volunteer for the love of Walpole people, our town and Planet Earth”.