AYER – Although the annual event is the brainchild of the Ayer Recycling Committee and organized each year under its purview, “Recycle Your Reusables” is a regional effort that reaches beyond town borders and draws vendors (folks who accept recyclables for free and re-use them for fun and profit) from far and near, according to ARC Chairman Laurie Sabal.
This year is no exception.
In a recent interview, Sabal talked about her group’s magnum opus and ARC’s mission. In a word, it’s all about recycling, from what can and can’t be re-used to who, when, where and why recyclable materials are accepted.
All in the context of a dry spell for the recycling industry as nations that once welcomed a steady stream of recylables now turn them away.
In Shirley, for example, the Board of Health, which manages the town’s trash and recycling program, called the situation a “global problem” when it recently changed the process, swapping bags for bins and citing recycling costs for the change.
It’s not an isolated situation, Sabal agreed.
Even in towns with transfer stations, such as Ayer, haulers tend to take recyclables they can sell or charge for the service. Styrofoam, for example. Most curbside haulers don’t take it.
But at RYR, there’s at least one vendor that does.
Styrofoam gets ground up, reshaped into new products, Sabal said. Same goes for paint, which is remixed into new colors,poured into new cans and sold. “I don’t know how profitable it is, but they keep a lot of gallons out of the waste stream,” she said.
One standby over the years: scrap metal. “It’s pretty reliable” she said.
It turns out that there are people out there who have devised ingenious second time around uses for items nobody else wants. One RYR vendor in California reaps old wooden bats and skis (shipped out rather than collected on site) to make into outdoor furniture such as Adirondack chairs.
Another distant craftsman harvests used pens to create sculptures. Who knew?
What about mattresses? Cast-offs that pose such a disposal dilemma they may end up by the roadside or in the woods, fodder for rodents. Rather than litter the landscape, why not bring that old mattress to the RYR event? There are vendors who take them, Sabal said. Unless they are wet or bug-infested. Clean only, please. Mattresses in good condition may go to social service agencies, shelters or other charities. Some are resold. Those that can’t be reused can be ripped apart to salvage materials inside.
One vendor takes “adaptive” equipment, such as walkers and bed rails. Textile vendors take old clothes. But not if they are smelly, ratty or moldy. “That’s a big thing,” Sabal said. “Rejects do happen.”
Furniture, too, can be a judgment call. You may think it’s good, but a wobbly-legged table or one-armed chair are not candidates for a used furniture store, so Sabal asks recyclers to “be reasonable” when it comes to items they drop off, with only “one tiny dumpster” on site for rejects.
“We can’t take trash,” she said.
They do take just about anything else. Before gathering up recylables for the big day, it’s a good idea to visit the website, https://recycleyourreusables.com to see the line-up of accepted items, from adhesive-backed label making sheets to bed rails, electronics to prescription sunglasses, tennis balls, tricycles, wine corks and much more. It’s a lengthy list, organized alphabetically and updated earlier this month.
Event Date: Saturday, Oct. 26 from 9 am to 2 pm in the Bemis Company parking lot, Ayer Road, Shirley. Rain or shine.
Questions can be e-mailed to Ayerreycles@gmail.com or call Laurie Sabal at 978-496-5839.
Volunteers are welcomed and much needed to help out on event day, Sabal said, from setting out traffic cones to sorting on site and loading vendors’ trucks. “We;re a small group,” she said. And this is a big event. Sabal called it “controlled chaos,” but in the end, all went smoothly last year, she said.