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Earth Notes: Master Recycler Program

Ryan Heinsius

Changes in global markets have led to a lot of confusion about what can and can’t be recycled these days.

The city of Flagstaff is confronting that confusion through its Master Recycler program. The goal is to shed light on the connection between personal consumption and climate change, with the hope of influencing behavior, like choosing less packaging, throwing away fewer items and ultimately decreasing use of disposable materials.

The eight-week course offers participants the basics of cutting food waste, composting, using water more efficiently, cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, and becoming better informed about recycling.

This year, the city will combine the Master Recycler and Climate Leaders programs to create a group called Sustainability Leaders. After graduating from the course, they’ll go out into the community to serve as recycling advocates. They’ll staff tables at local events, start pilot projects at work, organize field trips and serve as the voices and faces of local sustainability efforts.

The program is patterned after successful community recycling ventures in Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah. The city of Flagstaff is scheduling new sessions to begin in February. For more information, or to apply, email

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