Rain and thunder did not stop approximately a thousand people from visiting the July 23 recycling fair, hosted by the City’s Public Works Department. The fair was the first time the City combined document destruction, electronic recycling and other resources into one eco-friendly morning.
“People are really eager to do the right thing,” said Catherine Hurley, sustainable programs coordinator for the City of Evanston. “It’s great to provide them an opportunity where they can come out and take care of a variety of recycling needs.”
A line of cars stretched out of the Civic Center, where volunteers and City staff directed traffic and guided visitors to the various stations. Two large paper-shredding semi-trucks rumbled continuously as visitors dropped off old papers for destruction.
Visitors also filled blue recycling bins with batteries, hangers, light bulbs and other products not normally collected in Evanston’s curbside pickup. The fair functioned mostly like a drive-through, with most attendees peering through their windows at the rainy scene outside.
“The weather kind of hurt us a little bit,” said Don Cornelius, interim superintendent of Streets and Sanitation. “Our numbers probably would have been greater without the rain.”
City workers collected old hard drives, monitors, TVs and cell phones at a nearby facility. The piles of obsolete equipment functioned as an ad hoc history of technological advancement over the recent years. By the end of the fair, two 53-foot tractor-trailers were filled with unwanted electronics, Mr. Cornelius said.
At the “Touch-a-Truck” station, visitors could get a close look at street sweepers, construction vehicles and other equipment from the Public Works Department. Mark Steinbuck, water/sewer supervisor, showed off the water utility’s dive barge, which the department uses to do underwater repairs to the City’s sewage system. “We’re basically just showing what we have to the citizens so they can see what their tax money goes to,” Mr. Steinbuck said.
Representatives from two Evanston non-profits were also at the fair, sharing information on issues ranging from zero-waste event planning to diverting renovation materials from landfills.
“It’s unrealistic to think that we can do whatever we want to do to the environment and have it last,” said Mary Beth Schaye, a zero-waste event consultant for Collective Resource, Inc. Ms. Schaye helps people plan parties and events using recyclable and compostable materials. “I want people to add the Earth to their guest list,” she said.
Lou Dickson of the Evanston ReBuilding Warehouse said her organization was “born out of frustration.” Ms. Dickson said she helped start the nonprofit after 20 years as a general contractor looking for “a viable place to take product out when you’re renovating.” The Evanston ReBuilding Warehouse helps fill that niche by restoring and recycling renovation materials that might otherwise be trashed, Ms. Dickson said.
A steady stream of cars moved slowly through the stations throughout the three-hour-long fair. Ms. Hurley said there is high demand for recycling events like this one. “People don’t want to be throwing things in a landfill they think could otherwise be reclaimed,” she said.