Mother Earth, city have an ally in Chandler boy - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Mother Earth, city have an ally in Chandler boy

January 3rd, 2022 development
Mother Earth, city have an ally in Chandler boy
Community
16

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

Chandler resident Robert Nark walked out to collect his trash and recycling bins after the collection truck came. He found a handwritten note stuck on a bin.

“Good job!”

There’s no mystery who wrote it. Ten-year-old neighbor Cal Shropshire has earned the nickname “Recy-CAL” in the San Marcos County Club Estates neighborhood because of his passion for recycling.

Nark said Cal rides his scooter through the neighborhood on collection days, checking everyone’s bins. He makes sure there are no recyclable materials in the trash bins – and the other way around.

If he finds something that doesn’t belong, he has no problem knocking on a door to point it out in a friendly manner or to leave a pleasant reminder.

“I don’t do it regularly but a couple of times I’ve done it when there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t belong in the can,” said Cal, who is a fourth grader at Knox Gifted Academy.

Cal’s mother, Christine Shropshire, said most neighbors have been very supportive of her son’s passion for recycling and only a couple have objected.

“They told him, or have told us, ‘please don’t let him touch our cans,’” Christine said. “For the most part everyone is super supportive and doesn’t mind him checking their cans.”

Once a neighbor objects, then Cal steers clear of their trash bins.

The boy’s passion started just as schools were shut down by the pandemic in spring 2020.

Cal said he was stuck at home and decided he needed a hobby.

“I decided I had to do something, like get a hobby because it was boring to just sit around and like play games all day,” Cal said.

He heard a trash collecting truck and got curious. He decided to follow it around, watching how they collect trash. That led to his interest in recycling and how they separate the two.

Now, the workers who collect trash and recycling in his neighborhood know him so well they gave him a gift: a Waste Management hat, sun screen, lip balm, and safety vest.

Christine appreciated the vest, which helps keep him safe when he’s checking bins after sunset.

He’s also made up hand-drawn flyers to help educate his neighbors on what can be recycled and what cannot.

Cal said he’s not intimidated to knock on a neighbor’s door and talk to them about their recycling because he’s received so much support.

“I’m able to go and do that because I know I’m doing the right thing,” Cal said.

Cal said recycling became a passion as he learned about the threat climate change represents to the planet and the need for everyone to do what they could to save it.

It led him to research how other communities around the world do their recycling. Germany leads the world with more than 56% of its waste being recycled. The Germans are followed by Austria (53.8%), South Korea (53.7%), Wales (52.2%) and Switzerland (49.7%).

The Environmental Protection Agency says the U.S. recycles about 32% of its waste. Chandler recycles less than that at about 20%, according to Traci Conaway, the city’s recycling coordinator.

Cal hopes to improve on that. His efforts have not gone unnoticed. One of his neighbors created a T-shirt with a photo of Cal on his scooter and the words, “Reduce, Reuse & Recy-CAL.”

Conaway said one of the biggest issues the city faces now is people are putting a lot of non-recyclable items in the recycling bin. She said those items end up at the landfill and cost the city more since they get processed twice.

So, a big part of their program is to educate people about what can be recycled, and what cannot – similar to what Cal is doing.

Nark, the neighbor who earned the sticky note with the words “good job,” said he was so impressed he knocked on Cal’s door and gave him $20 for his efforts.

Cal said he’s not doing this for money.

“It’s really nice of them,” Cal said. “I’ve never asked for money before … that’s a way I know that they encourage me.”

Cal said discovering his passion for recycling has influenced where he wants to go as a career.

“When I grow up, I definitely want to be someone who does something about the way our planet is heading,” Cal said. “Help it go in a better direction instead of going like global warming, deforestation stuff, I want it to be able to go in a better direction that has a healthy, happy planet and good environment.”

 

Recycling myths

The City of Chandler has a myth vs. fact webpage to help residents recycle. Visit chandleraz.gov/residents/recycling-and-trash/recycling/common-recycling-myths.

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