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Mar 31

16 Ways Eugene Rec is Sustainable

Posted on March 31, 2017 at 3:28 PM by Ben Schorzman

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Eugene Rec is great at doing more with less. 

From maintaining buildings and vehicles for long-term use to using donated equipment and being resourceful, Eugene Rec practices sustainability every day. It’s more a way of life.

At the River House Outdoor Center, for example, employees are encouraged to bike to work, and they have a covered place to lock up their bikes as well as a maintenance area. Sometimes, though, it's just giving people a nudge in the right direction.

"We offer multiple opportunities for participants to see the natural world in a meaningful way that often helps to develop stewardship in their own lives," Recreation Program Assistant Zane Wheeler said.

Wheeler and the River House staff are knowledgeable resources when it comes to sustainable practices. They were recently approached by a local Boy Scouts troop to give a talk about the subject because a new sustainability merit badge was created.

And while the River House might be the obvious center to talk about sustainability, every division in Eugene Rec contributes to the City’s overall sustainable mission. 

This isn't save the world stuff, but keeping it local, DIY and cheap is sustainable:

1. ANNUAL PLANT AND SEED PROPAGATION AT PETE BARN
Are you ready to plant your garden? Petersen Barn Community Center hosts an event every spring that helps the local Bethel Community get started. The free event includes entertainment for the kids, a meal and a seed and plant swap. For more information, check out the event's Facebook page.

Bike Safety (6)

2. BIKE AND PEDESTRIAN SAFETY CLASSES
Eliminating the dependency on oil has always been a hallmark of sustainable living, and that starts early in life by teaching children how to safely travel by foot and bike in their city. Biking and walking are fun, safe and sustainable forms of transport. The Safe Routes to School program Eugene Rec sponsors with Eugene, Bethel and Springfield school districts is a perfect example. This two-week class teaches middle school students the rules of the road and how to navigate safely on bikes. It ends with a community ride through town that's a fun getaway from the classroom. 

3. REC BUS RIDES
You know what's economical? Ride sharing. Sign up for a group outdoor trip or day-trip through Rec and you'll be swept along in one of our buses. You save gas and get to know the other people going along for the ride. The 2017 Summer Rec Guide goes online April 4 if you're looking for a trip.

4. CAMPBELL BIKE WEEK
We’re encouraging bike use by our older adult patrons through Campbell Bike Week. Vehicle use is one of the most important parts of Eugene’s carbon footprint, and older adults have not been extensively targeted in get-out-of-your-car efforts. Hopefully, we can start to change that so we can reach our 2030 goal of a carbon-neutral city.

5. CAMPBELL WOODSHOP
Campbell Community Center's woodshop is great model of sustainability. It's low-cost ($3 drop-in) and allows folks to make and repair household items. Staff also salvage as much of the scrap wood as possible to sell as firewood. Constant fundraising and use of volunteers help keep the costs low for anyone wanting to come in and gain access to expensive woodworking tools. Come in today for an orientation.

6. LEAVE NO TRACE
Go on any hike with Eugene Rec staff and be prepared to hear this often-used phrase. Leave No Trace is a general rule of thumb for anyone who ventures into public lands and one outdoor trip leaders adhere strictly to. Having outdoor areas to recreate in is a privilege in this country and no one wants to be deep in the backcountry only to come across used toilet paper or an empty chip bag from someone's lunch.

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7. LOVE FOOD NOT WASTE
Amazon Pool and Amazon, Hilyard and Petersen Barn community centers all participate in Love Food Not Waste, a commercial food waste collection program run by the City’s Planning and Development Department. At Amazon Pool it allows pool goers to divert food scraps and the compostable service ware provided by Ume Grill toward compost and bio-methane generation and away from the landfill. 

8. LUNCH BUNCH AT CAMPBELL
Wednesdays are busy at Campbell Community Center. Noon is always lunch time, with a group of volunteers and dedicated staff serving discounted lunch to 75 or more people. They use reusable plates and tableware (so does the rest of the division), which cuts down on waste, and with Campbell's new kitchen, energy is used more efficiently. Oh, and all coffee grounds and food waste get composted.

9. POOL ENERGY
Over the past five years Eugene Rec has worked to upgrade pool facilities to make them more energy efficient. Heating pools is a large energy pull, and to offset some of that use, solar panels were installed on the roof of Amazon and Sheldon pools to warm the waters. In addition, on-demand water heaters were installed at Sheldon and Echo Hollow pools to cut the amount of natural gas used by those facilities. Efficient use of pool covers to trap warmth and reduce evaporation adds to the pools’ constant monitoring of its energy use. 

10. REPAIR CAFÉ AT AMAZON
Crowdsourcing is a fantastic tool for communities to solve problems, and Amazon Community Center is providing an opportunity to help people repair items usually tossed into the waste stream. Visit Amazon on July 16 to get solutions to broken problems. Bring things that need fixing and work with repair experts to fix your stuff or to share your how-to talents. For questions or to volunteer, email Alexandra Breyer or call 541-682-5224.

11. RESCUED FOOD DINNER AT CAMPBELL
Campbell Community Center is also hosting a rescued food dinner in October to highlight the issue of food waste both locally and globally. Speakers will discuss how food waste impacts communities and the environment while giving people an opportunity to connect with community members around food and a meal. Learn more in the upcoming 2017 Fall Rec Guide, on shelves this August.

12. RIVER SHUTTLE SERVICES
Anyone who has ever floated, kayaked or SUP-ed down the McKenzie or Willamette knows a difficulty of planning even the smallest of floats is transportation between put-in and take-out sites. On most Eugene Rec river trips, we take the planning out of your hands by providing shuttles with one of our busses.

13. SUSTAINABLE CLEANING MATERIALS
Speaking of playing on the river, all Eugene Rec boats, kayaks and rafts are cleaned and painted with non-toxic materials to reduce the amount of chemicals that leech into our rivers, lakes and streams.

14. TRASHY TUESDAYS
The River House has teamed up with Willamette RiverKeepers to create two clean up days on the Willamette from Alton Baker Park to the River House. All equipment will be provided for the two outings, which will be four hours on both July 11 and Aug. 8. Check out the program description in the Adult Outdoor section of the Summer Rec Guide, which goes online April 4.

15. TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE
Any discussion about sustainability within the City of Eugene usually begins or ends with the triple bottom line, a guide of sorts used by the City to help make decisions. When making choices, whether it be something like deciding how many households to mail the Rec Guide to or what type of paper to use, the triple bottom line helps people see things through three lenses: economic, financial and social. It's a research and values-based decision model to ensure every angle of a decision is discussed.

16. YARD SALES GALORE
Extending the life of old outdoor gear, toys and clothing is another practice Eugene Rec is great at, and we facilitate that with the community. The River House hosts an annual gear yard sale where people can sell, trade or buy used gear. At Petersen Barn, staff host a clothing and toy swap where people can recirculate things in the community instead of filling the landfill. Sheldon Community Center also hosts a garage sale, with kids running the entire show. To learn more about these programs, look in the Summer Rec Guide, which goes online April 4.

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