Sheila Logan can often be found at Estacada events alongside a blue recycling bin.
Logan, who has been interested in ecology for most of her life, completed the Master Recycler program in 2012. She has since dedicated herself to sharing information about recycling and sustainability to the Estacada community.
"I have a really healthy interest in making sure we leave the environment and the planet in good shape for the next generation," she said. "I want to help people understand and work on that. It takes time and knowledge."
Logan signed up for the Master Recycler program because it seemed like a good way to share information and connect with others.
"I wanted to bring awareness to people on really important issues. I wanted to volunteer and give back to the community," she said.
The program, which rotates through local counties, is organized by Metro, the City of Portland, Clackamas County, Washington County, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Recycling Advocates. Participants learn about sustainable consumption and production, toxins reduction, recycling and compost processing and equity in the environment, among other topics. The eight-week course will return to Clackamas County this spring, and Logan encouraged anyone interested in participating to do so. Registration for the program will be open through noon Thursday, March 1. Applications are available at www.masterrecycler.org.
Logan found the Master Recycling program to be a valuable experience.
"We learned a lot of very interesting things," she said. "I thought I knew (most information) about recycling, but I learned so much.'
There are approximately 1,600 graduates of the Master Recycler program across the Portland region. Those who have completed the program perform a variety of public outreach to help others learn about conserving natural resources, including giving presentations to the community and working at information booths during events. Last year, master recyclers volunteered for a total of 52,000 hours.
For Logan, one of the best parts about volunteering is coordinating recycling at events.
"I come in and help the organization put together a plan for recycling. I work with the vendors to see what they can recycle," she said. "I'm pretty dialed in to the Summer Celebration, just about anything that happens outside of Thriftway, the Whitewater Festival and the Best Dam Run."
Additionally, Logan is available to discuss recycling options with local businesses. She also set up a recycling system for bottles and cans at the Estacada Community Center.
Logan has been interested in environmental issues since she joined the Sierra Club at her high school.
"It was a lot of hiking and backpacking," she said. "I love being outdoors."
She then earned a degree in forest ecology from Oregon State University and worked at a plant ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service.
Logan said the master recycler course provided her with valuable knowledge about how recycling works around the world.
"There's a global perspective, and the importance of China on the recycling market," she continued. "We had been able to recycle a lot of plastic because it had been sold to China, but then China stopped (taking it). There are global perspectives and all the way down to the local level."
Logan noted there are several common misconceptions about the kind of items that can be recycled. For example, anything that is used to pack frozen foods is not recyclable. Additionally, plastic bags should not be put in curbside recycling bins.
"When it doubt, leave it out," she encouraged.
She added that, although recycling is valuable, there are also other ways to ensure that fewer items end up in landfills.
"With reduce, reuse, recycle — recycle is actually the third thing," she said. "Reduce buying things that you don't need to and watch the packaging in things. There are lots of ways to reuse things. Buy second hand, and fix things that are broken."
Logan enjoys sharing information about recycling and sustainability to the Estacada community.
"I really enjoy talking to people," she said. "People are willing and interested to know about it."
She added that most people are used to curbside recycling and recycling during events.
"If they go to an event and there's no recycling there, they'll tell me," she said.