ENVIRONMENTAL VIEW | Prepare the kids for “insidious” organic infotainment – VC Reporter

ON THE PICTURE : “Yakety Yak – Take It Back!” Ozzy Osbourne and other celebrities starred in this 1991 public service clip about recycling from the Take It Back Foundation.

by David Goldstein

“You are insidious!” said my neighbor, Jim Polisini, laughing.

Insidiousness got a bad rap after the franchise Star Wars gave the name “Darth Sidious” to the character called “The Emperor” in the original trilogy. But even before that, I had never heard methods of environmental awareness described as insidious.

Polisini was commenting on the strategy I and other local recycling coordinators use to increase participation rates in the curbside food waste recycling program. As adults are more difficult to influence, we target children. We make videos and provide other materials for teachers, so lessons on the importance of recycling food scraps will be taught in schools. If your child comes home from school one day and starts to object to you throwing a banana peel in the trash, you might agree with Polisini.

Since the January launch of curbside food waste recycling programs in Ventura County, a growing number of people are including food waste in carts previously reserved for yard clippings and lumber. However, as noted in a conference call last week with facility operators, the amount of food scraps collected through these recycling programs is far less than the amount our waste sorting studies tell us to be. in the garbage.

To comply with state mandates, reduce climate change emissions from rotting waste in landfills, and improve the soil with mulch and compost, we need to facilitate two changes in Ventura County households. First, we need to increase take-up rates, which is the percentage of people who regularly place food scraps in their organic waste carts – formerly “yard waste”. Second, we need to increase capture rates, which is the percentage of food collected from participating households.

If you want to be the recycling leader in your household and not wait for your child to scold you to do so, you can very easily become a participant and maximize your home’s collection rate by starting at the waste generation point. Place a labeled, lidded bucket on your kitchen counter, place a foot-activated swing-lid container under your sink, or institute another system to capture leftover food, separate from other trash, in the kitchen. Someone in the household will have the unpleasant task of regularly emptying the container into the organics cart, but presumably someone is already taking the trash out of the kitchen, and that includes the same materials.

As for raising awareness among children, Ventura County is not alone in implementing this strategy. The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) is about to launch a super agent to win the hearts and minds of young people. It’ll be a talking turtle named Turner, which you’ll start seeing later this month. What the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did to popularize martial arts, this turtle just might do for recycling.

Focusing environmental awareness on children to effect change in homes is also not a new strategy. Perhaps the most notable example of this strategy occurred in 1991, when cities decided to implement curbside recycling programs and households decided whether and how to separate bottles, cans and paper from other waste.

The Take It Back Foundation, run by Stewart Levine and his wife Jolie Jones, daughter of musician and producer Quincy Jones, appealed to children and teens by producing a music video, which premiered on MTV on National Day recycling, April 10, 1991. In the video, music’s biggest celebrities Paula Abdul, Randy Newman, BB King, Ozzy Osbourne, Bette Midler, Stevie Wonder, Kenny Loggins and more rapped and frolicked with Bugs Bunny and d other Looney Tunes characters while performing a song called “Yakety Yak, Take it back.

The song, based on a 1950s song about rebellious youth, was played in public service announcements, at school assemblies nationwide, and repeatedly in 1,600 AMC theaters. With a grant of nearly $300,000 from the California Department of Conservation, the Take It Back Foundation distributed the video and a teacher’s guide to 15,000 public schools across our state. The song’s lyrics included this memorable refrain:

Don’t be square, don’t be silly,

Don’t make this Earth a dumping ground,

This planet that screams “No more funk!”

There is no more room for more bric-a-brac.

Yakety Yak – Take It Back!

David Goldstein, environmental resources analyst with the Ventura County Public Works Agency, can be reached at 805-658-4312 or [email protected].

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