Ecology Youth Corps get it done!

Litter season ends with a landfill tour, celebration

Ecology Youth Corps across Washington wrapped up their season this week, including crews from Central Washington that worked from the top of Snoqualmie Pass to Highway 14 along the Columbia River.

It was a productive summer, with youth crews across the state picking up more than a million pounds of litter on state roadways. The crews sort out the recyclables, then send the rest to a landfill.

A group of teens stand in the foreground of a landfill. Rubbish and dirt largely fill the scene behind them.

Youth ended their season with a visit to the Terrace Heights Landfill.

"This is the first job for many of these kids," said longtime regional EYC supervisor Rod Hankinson. "These kids are tough – this isn't an easy job.

"I tell them this is the kind of work that helps them throughout their life, it teaches them to respect the environment and what they can do about it. It sets them up to receive recommendations to college from their supervisors, and if they work for me for two years - they'll get a recommendation from me."
What did they find on the roadways? Alongside the cigarette butts, fast-food paper waste, cups, cans and bottles you would expect, each year brings surprises. One girl found a "ninja star," another found baby clothes. Pocket knives and phones are common finds. In the Seattle area, an EYC crew came across a World War I-era rifle (which was passed on to police). Larger debris, like boards, car parts and furniture is also hauled away.
The central region crews ended their season with a tour of the Terrace Heights Landfill in Yakima County, where they learned about recycling and reusing household hazardous wastes like paint, batteries and household cleaning products. They watched yard waste being chipped and turned into valuable compost. They tested the temperatures of various yard waste piles to check on the progress of the composting process. They learned the life of the landfill was coming to an end -- all the more reason for recyclable products to find a new life as a new product in new markets.
To end their summer tour, the EYC crews left the landfill for a picnic of pizza in the park. Needless to say, after they finished eating, they picked up their trash and left the park spotless. Check out the crew's Flickr set

Want to know where you can recycle moderate risk waste in your community? Visit here.
group shot of Ecology Youth Corp teens 2016