Report from AOR Sustainable Oregon 2017

By Bonita Davis, Recycling Advocates Volunteer

AOR Sustainable Oregon 2017Salishan Lodge on the central Oregon Coast was the site of Sustainable Oregon 2017 Conference, presented by the Association of Oregon Recyclers from June 7-9. Encouraged to attend by the board of Recycling Advocates, I learned the conference brings together diverse perspectives, shares current best practices, create networking opportunities and brings people from industry, non-profits, government, education, and more to the table.

The conference proved to be even more dynamic than I anticipated, beginning with the first panel of experts, some local, some national, discussing aspects of packaging, comparing energy in production and shipping of products to C02 emissions and how best to reduce not only product waste, but excessive energy consumption in getting products to the market. A topic that can be baffling in its complexity, presenters not only would encouraged questions from their audience, but would engage in informal discussions throughout the conference.

Meeting the people I often talk to on the phone, from FarWest Recycling, Waste Management, The City of Portland Office of Sustainability, SCRAP and other non-profits was a definite plus. Master Recyclers from throughout the state came together to talk about what they were doing in their communities and created contact lists.  We were all so pleased to see the Master Recyclers in Tillamook honored for their efforts to successfully create a drop off site recycling program in their community.

Reducing food waste, learning more about plastics, multifamily recycling solutions, dealing with problem materials from construction, and nudging people towards action were just a sample of the topics that were presented in concurrent sessions. There were so many excellent choices that I confess to trying to devise a plan to be in more than one session at a time!

Sustainable Oregon provided a great networking opportunities, from Table Topics at meals, to Networking sessions, and Movie and Game Nights.   It was actually fun to spend money bidding in the silent auction held throughout the conference in the Exhibit Hall and participating in the raffle, knowing that the money raised would support scholarships for the next generation of AOR members.

Three days went by quickly. Sitting next to the fireplace in the Lodge I was deeply appreciative of the work I now knew was happening on so many levels throughout the region by dedicated stewards.  Salishan Lodge, by design, was inspiring for their collection of wood carvings by Leroy Setzoil. The nationally famous coastal artist not only planted trees specifically for later generations of artists to harvest, but in the mid-20th century, built his own home of reclaimed railroad timber.

Sustainable Oregon 2018 is in Eugene, Oregon, and it is the 40th annual AOR Conference.  Mark your calendar.