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Great Falls, Montana celebrates Earth Day

Marty Basta
Operations Manager
City of Great Falls, Montana

The City of Great Falls held an Earth Day celebration on April 21, 2002 at the city-operated recycling center. Included in the festivities were informational booths and recycling contests for prizes ranging from Earth Day T-shirts to swimming pool passes and cash awards.

The city partnered with the private sector and U.S. Air Force personnel from Malmstrom Air Force Base to put on the Earth Day celebration. Volunteers from throughout the community staffed the event.

Two local high school cheerleading squads competed for funds in a recycling competition. Both squads were allowed to keep all proceeds from the recyclables they collected with the winners also receiving a $100 bonus provided by Pacific Iron and Steel.

For the younger age participants there was a "stomp and swish" contest. To enter, participants brought aluminum cans for recycling and were given time to stomp the cans and shoot them into a container. Two winners from three age groups received Earth Day T-shirts and a pass to the Great Falls Water Park.

An Earth Day calendar-coloring contest was distributed to area schools a month before the celebration. The contest was also posted on the City's website (www.ci.great-falls.mt.us). Winners were announced at the Earth Day celebration with winners also receiving Earth Day T-shirts and pool passes.

The City of Great Falls conducts an annual Christmas tree recycling project where participants were given seedling certificates to replace the trees harvested for the holiday. These certificates were redeemed at the Earth Day event. Nearly 1,500 seedlings were distributed to Christmas tree recyclers.

The city expects the annual event to provide community focus to its recycling programs that include curbside, drop-off and Convenience Center recycling services. The city recycles everything from glass to motor oils as well as different paper products and metals.

A local use of recycled glass was developed by the city, blending glass with gravel for use in street repairs. A Re-Use-it area at the Convenience Center is a big success. Great Falls residents are encouraged to bring reusable items to the center rather than discard them. People wishing to receive such items may take them at no charge. The project provides many household items to people who otherwise might not be able to afford them while diverting a large volume of waste from the landfill. The Great Falls Earth Day celebration is an excellent way for the city to better inform its residents of the benefits of recycling.

For more information on Great Falls' annual Earth Day celebration, contact Marty Basta at (406) 771-1401 or at mbasta@ci.great-falls.mt.us.