AYER — Perhaps only the child of Depression-era parents could practice such extreme recycling with so much contentment.
“Since I was a kid I’ve always been interested in wasting as little as possible,” said Laurie Sabol, 62.
Over the past nine years, she has been responsible for diverting 100 tons of used material from landfills through a yearly event, Recycle Your Reusables.
Of course, she has a little help from her friends. A four-member committee works year-round to stage the one-day event at Ayer Shirley Middle School.
Sabol does most of the work, since she is the only one who is retired. “I don’t expect anyone to do the amount of work I do,” she said. Recycling committees from nearby towns help out too.
When she and her husband moved to Ayer in 2001, she jumped at the chance to join the Recycling Committee.
Last year, 500 cars came through the gates, loaded with unwanted stuff. But Recycle Your Reusables is not interested in glass bottles, tin cans and cardboard.
“We don’t recycle the things that are easy to recycle,” Sabol said.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection initially approached Sabol about collecting reusable household goods. She was game.
The first recycling day had only one vendor, the term she uses to describe the organizations and businesses that will accept materials. This year, the list has grown to 30.
As the event grows, the challenges multiply.
Sabol attempts to find the sweet spot in time to start reminding the community about the giant recycling event. She has a large garage where she can store her own bulky recyclables, like a contractor-sized bag of polystyrene foam but knows that not everyone does.
She also keeps tweaking the actual event. Getting materials to the right recyclers can take time.
“I personally have felt that frustration,” she said. So, she made a map so folks could figure out the best way to load their cars to get their discards to the correct vendor.
The map should make things easier for families, but there will probably still be delays. “I think patience is key,” she said. “As we grow, the lines get longer.”
An effective volunteer is also good at getting others to volunteer. Sabol proves the point.
Each year, the school district allows the event to use the parking lot. The custodian is on duty for the day. He is a huge help, she said.
Local companies support Recycle Your Reusables with monetary and food donations. “We get a lot of pizzas,” Sabol said. Already 25 people are signed up to help on Oct. 21. Sabol needs about 10 more.
Volunteers direct traffic, pack boxes and help vendors. If enough workers are on hand, Sabol can get a jump on a post-event task.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the day can contact Laurie Sabol at Ayerrecycles@gmail.com or 978-496-5839.
Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter @a1oconnor.