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The New Mexico Recycling Coalition (NMRC) received  $88,000 from USDA as part of a competitive grant process through the Rural Utilities Services. The funding supports efforts 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 compost trainings, repair clinics and zero waste activities. 

The grantee shall finance an additional $53,340.00 of these costs through in-kind contributions. This equates to $141,340 in funding targeted to empower local communities to divert waste from their landfills, while keeping their waterways and landscape clean. The grant covers a twelve-month period from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021.

NMRC’s executive director, Sarah Pierpont, notes that, “This year has created a variety of challenges for many of our rural communities to continue to sustain their recycling and waste reduction programs. 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.” 

Back yard compost trainings benefit rural communities by teaching residents how to keep their food scraps and yard debris out of the trash. NMRC will provide attendees with the tools needed to set up their own household composting systems. Rural New Mexicans will learn how to make their own valuable compost. Soils and gardens that are amended with organic compost, as created through back yard composting, do not require the application of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides and use less water.

Zero waste activities will strive to move solid waste departments and communities towards zero waste through planning, policy and community engagement. Zero waste, works to divert material from landfills and eliminate toxins. 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 center. Reuse centers are 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. Coaches do not fix items for attendees, but work to teach them how to fix it themselves. By sharing these skills while transferring them to others Fix It Clinics teach critical thinking through the lens of our relationship to consumption and sustainability. The grant will establish four to five new “Fix-It” clinics throughout the state. 

Representatives from government entities within rural communities that are interested in receiving this support, should contact Sarah Pierpont at the New Mexico Recycling Coalition at sarah@recyclenewmexico.com. To see a list of all eligible communities, click here.

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