Kristine Major, Solid Waste Disposal, Education Coordinator, 509.625.6521
Wednesday, November 7, 2018 at 4:49 p.m.
In 1988, the price of gas was 91 cents a gallon, the LA Dodgers won the World Series, “So Emotional” by Whitney Houston was the top song and Spokane held its first Master Composter/Recycler class for nine students.
Sponsored by the then-newly created Spokane Regional Solid Waste System, the Master Composter/Recycler program hoped to recruit citizens interested in learning how to make their own compost at home while throwing less yard waste in the trash.
Since then, more than 920 residents have completed this program, which has proven to have long-term popularity. The class of 2018 consisted of 30 students (the maximum number allowed) motivated to add to the program’s legacy.
The Master Composter/Recycler program consists of a five-week class where participants learn the art and science of home composting, both outdoors and in the home, as well as responsible ways to manage household hazardous wastes and be better recyclers.
Those who take the class commit to giving back 40 hours of volunteer service, teaching others what they have learned. Popular outreach activities include helping Bloomsday get closer to being a zero waste event, recovering recyclables from trash picked up at the annual Spokane River Clean Up fall event, and hosting two public compost fairs at the John A. Finch Arboretum every year.
At these compost fairs, Master Composter/Recyclers talk visitors through the ins and outs of successful composting at six learning stations. At the completion of the stations, county residents take home a free compost bin. More than 12,000 bins have been distributed at these events. Even if only a fraction of the bins were used, thousands of pounds of organic materials have been kept out of the garbage and put to better use as a soil amendment.
At the end of October, following the Fall Compost Fair and Leaf Festival at Finch Arboretum, the Master Composter/Recycler Program celebrated its 30-year history with a reunion of past graduates and instructors. The importance of this program’s role in leading Spokane towards a healthy and sustainable future was recognized. Oh, and the cake was quite tasty, too.