Volunteers Sift Through Trash for a Greener Neighborhood

August 13, 2018

Written by: Katharine Reed


Sifting through trash cans isn’t the most conventional volunteer opportunity at WMEAC, nor is it the nicest smelling. Yet, doing so will help make Grand Rapids’ Uptown district a bit greener.

On June 10, WMEAC volunteers sorted the contents of 20 Uptown trash cans to determine how much recyclable material was being thrown out. It was a secondary audit in a partnership between WMEAC and the Uptown Business Corridor Improvement District Board to improve recycling efforts in the area.

First, the trash was weighed. Then, the recyclable contents were removed and weighed separately to calculate the percentage of waste that was recyclable. Results showed that eight of the 20 trash cans were filled with over 20 percent recyclable materials.

WMEAC and the Uptown Board will use the audit information to determine Uptown locations that have the greatest number of recyclable products in their trash cans. They will then place recycling containers in these locations.

The Uptown Board wants to lead a movement to increase Michigan’s recycling rates. Only 15 percent of recyclable materials are recycled, putting it far behind surrounding states. The Uptown Board’s hope is that their project will be used as a model for other communities throughout the area.

An education campaign will complement the new recycling containers. The Uptown Board will provide local businesses with a media kit to promote their recycling program. The Board will also present their program at neighborhood association meetings, community events, through newsletters and by local canvassing.

With audits completed, the program is underway. Containers are being purchased and education materials are being developed.

WMEAC would like to thank all those who volunteered their time to help with recycling audits. The program could not be where it is at now without these people.








Photos by Katharine Reed