The New Mexico Recycling Coalition (NMRC) received $88,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of a competitive grant process through the Rural Utilities Services. The funding supports initiatives to divert material from landfills within New Mexico’s smallest communities of 10,000 residents or less. This will be accomplished through the establishment of reuse centers, backyard composting trainings, repair clinics and zero waste activities. NMRC has to finance an additional $53,340 of these costs through in-kind contributions. The grant covers a 12-month period from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021.
“This year has created a variety of challenges for many of our rural communities to continue to sustain their recycling and waste reduction programs,” notes Sarah Pierpont, NMRC’s executive director. “We look forward to working towards utilizing this funding to empower these communities and encourage them towards further sustainability in their own backyards and neighborhoods. This grant will help rural parts of our state focus on the first two “Rs” in the reduce, reuse, recycle hierarchy — reduce and reuse.” Backyard composting trainings will provide attendees with the tools needed to set up their own household composting systems. Zero waste activities will strive to move solid waste departments and communities towards zero waste through planning, policy and community engagement. Examples of a zero waste activity could include community events in which all discards are recycled and composted or eliminating single use items from the community.
Funding also includes resources to establish three, new rural reuse centers — typically separate areas co-located at staffed, trash drop-off sites — where residents can put items they no longer want and that still have a useful life. Other residents can pick up items free of charge. Repair clinics, also known as “Fix-It” clinics, convey basic disassembly, troubleshooting, and repair skills using attendees’ own broken things as the vehicle. It is a free program that recruits volunteer “coaches” or individuals with experience repairing items (mechanical, electrical, bicycle, sewing, woodworking, etc) and pairs coaches with community members that bring in their broken items. The grant will establish four to five new “Fix-It” clinics throughout the state.