Two Manson students planted the seed for 911 Glass Rescue Project
You don’t need to be bigwig to make a meaningful difference in your community.
Two young women from Manson, Devyn Smith and Megan Clausen, have proved that. As seniors at Manson High School in 2019, they started a tiny glass repurposing project that ultimately inspired the Chelan Valley Rotary Club to purchase a machine capable of repurposing up to two tons of glass per day.
They were honored at the official opening of the 911 Glass Recovery program recently — an event that brought out dozens of civic leaders and Rotarians.
Chelan Valley Rotary is planning on using volunteers to accept local glass on Saturdays, feed that material into a machine that separates out the labels and other foreign material and creates sand and aggregate that can be used in a variety of ways locally, from landscaping to gardening.
This all started with a senior project they initiated. They raised $6,000 from community members and businesses to purchase a glass crushing machine from GLSand that was capable of handling one bottle at a time. “The community support was crazy,” said Clausen.
Smith and Clausen spent countless hours during that year taking in waste bottles from a few local wineries and turning the glass into sand. It was a labor-intensive process in which they had to clean the bottles, get rid of foil and corks, and then run the individual bottles through the crusher.
The end product was sand that could be used in sandbags, landscaping and for other projects.
They saw that wineries and households were dumping scads of glass into the landfill and wanted to plant a seed about becoming more environmentally conscious. The basic approach they learned growing up was the ethic of “reduce, reuse and recycle” so that we can have less of an impact on our environment.
Their project planted a seed that the Rotary Club elevated into a community-wide project.
Glass recycling has been virtually nonexistent in North Central Washington in recent years. Now we can begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel with the Rotary project, which was funded in part by the City of Chelan, the state Department of Ecology and local contributors.
Smith, who is currently a student at Wenatchee Valley College working toward her bachelor of arts degree in nursing, said her family is already setting aside glass to be repurposed with the new machine.
Clausen is a student at George Fox University in Oregon and is studying to be a civil engineer. She expects to apply the reduce, reuse and recycle mantra in her own work. She hopes some day to come back to the Chelan Valley.
We can take a powerful lesson from the example set by Clausen and Smith and carried forward by Chelan Valley Rotary. If we can begin with the principle of making our neighborhoods and communities a little bit better, we can make a meaningful difference. I think too often we get caught up in trying to find the ultimate solution.
Chelan Valley Rotary has launched the 911 Glass Rescue project knowing that they have much to learn and many challenges ahead of them. They are taking a page from the example of Devyn Smith and Megan Clausen.
I can’t wait to see how this project evolves and whether we might one day see a regional glass repurposing effort that helps community members live more lightly on our precious land.