Evanston’s sixth annual recycling event declutters homes, promotes sustainability

Yvonne Kim, Reporter

About a thousand local residents lined the streets surrounding Evanston Township High School on Saturday morning with donations for the city’s sixth annual “drive up, drop off” recycling event.

“Evanston Recycles,” which ran for about three hours, was organized by the city and more than 20 volunteers and city staff helped direct cars, assist residents and collect and separate donated items.

Contracted in partnership with the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County, the city collected electronic materials like cell phones, computers, televisions and printers. Additionally, electronics recycling and document destruction were available to residents of all SWANCC communities, which includes Evanston.

Along with electronics and shredded documents, the event also accepted vases, clothing and sneakers, batteries, light bulbs and ink cartridges.

“We expand as things are denied in the landfills,” said Kevin Johnson, event organizer and the Public Works Agency’s recycling and environmental maintenance supervisor. “Landfills are filling up to conserve space for true solid waste.”

But besides just collecting materials that are no longer accepted in landfills, the event also tries to find other ways to help out Evanston residents.

Johnson said they began collecting reusable bags during “Evanston Recycle” last year after a 2014 city ordinance banning large retailers from providing plastic shopping bags went into effect. The event collects reusable bags in order to make them more accessible to customers in the future, according to a press release from the city.

“What we try and do is not just the usual recycling stuff, like electronics and document shredding, but we’re trying to branch out,” said environmental services bureau chief Paul D’Agostino. “We’re trying to come up with more ideas of ways to help people empty their homes of the stuff they don’t need.”

D’Agostino added such efforts give Evanston residents the opportunity to declutter their homes and become more involved in sustainability efforts.

“One of the reasons you’re in Evanston is that you love that stuff,” said Leslie Reynolds, an Evanston resident who volunteered at the event. “I want to be part of a community that recycles, that takes care of things.”

“Evanston Recycles” has gathered items from between 1,000 to 1,200 residents each year, D’Agostino said, and is consistently trying to expand by collecting different items.

Since the city’s Office of Sustainability launched in 2007, D’Agostino said it has been trying to involve residents in sustainability.

“(Evanston residents) really appreciate what we’re doing,” he said. “It’s taken a good two or three years to really get off the ground, but I think now we’re well on our way.”

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