Today we recognize America Recycles Day, a day to spread awareness of keeping our communities beautiful and sustainable for future generations. We are excited to showcase the efforts of Denee Coleman, one of Carlton Senior Living’s Inbound Marketing Specialists, who has gotten involved in cleaning up her local Contra Costa community of Martinez, California.
The above photo of Denee was taken at Nancy Boyd Park in Martinez across from Contra Costa Fire Station 13.
“You can make a meaningful difference in your community, even if it’s in a small way, like picking up litter.”
-Denee Coleman, Inbound Marketing Specialist, Carlton Senior Living
Denee and her family enjoy spending time outdoors, and they noticed an abundance of discarded bottles and cans around the sports fields and parks where her children like to play. Unlike her family, she is not much for sports, but she does like walking, and so naturally, collecting recyclables was a great way to get in extra steps while cleaning up the local outdoor space. As Denee shares, “Litter is also unsightly, and one day I decided to stop complaining about all the trash and started picking it up instead.” When she began her efforts, she was collecting recyclables by hand, which was slow work. But that didn’t deter Denee, she had big goals and high hopes to make a more significant impact in her cleanups. Once she got her hands on a second-hand “trash picker,” the rest, well, is history or rather HERstory. She began to collect litter and created the DeneeDigsIn Instagram account to document her efforts.
Although she regularly picks up litter along the streets and throughout parks in the Pleasant Hill and Martinez areas, she is sure to keep a trash picker in her car just in case. Denee makes it a point to do a little cleanup of the many outdoor spaces she and her family enjoy, including visits to Sonoma County, where she was raised. Since the beginning, her efforts have grown in numbers with a few locals joining in, her husband and even her older children sometimes join in to clean up. They also help her take photos and decide what to post on the DeneeDigsIn Instagram account. While picking up trash and recyclables helps beautify outdoor spaces and protect the environment, Denee’s intentions go far beyond that. Her real goal is to inspire and motivate others to make a difference in small but meaningful ways. DeneeDigsIn is a way to connect with others around the world who share a similar goal, but the people she encounters in-person are the ones she hopes to inspire.
To date, Denee shares the most significant stride she has made in recognition of her efforts. People in the community have noticed, and it’s rewarding to receive a “thank you” while cleaning up. She has also joined forces with a fellow like-minded Martinez neighbor to organize community cleanups of local parks. Utilizing Facebook groups to promote cleanups has furthered their success; most recently, over this past summer, they were able to gather 14 volunteers to help pick up litter in the Hidden Lakes Park. Denee shares that “it’s rewarding and certainly more impactful to collect litter as part of a group – it’s also something that can be done while remaining socially distanced.” In asking what the most found items seem to be, she shares that food wrappers, recyclable beverage containers, and now even personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves are at the top of the list.
Suppose you’re looking to get involved and begin recycling, Denee shares that the best place to start is home. She recommends checking with your local waste management company to verify which items can and cannot be recycled. They may also require that recyclables be clean and dry to be accepted for recycling. This information can be found on the provider’s website along with a handy recycling chart to post at home for reference. Denee’s children love to ask her which items are recyclable, and the chart helps with that. One important recycling tip is regarding the disposal of electronics, also known as eWaste. Although it can be confusing, there are plenty of organizations that collect and recycle electronics for free. Recycling eWaste at an approved location is essential because it helps keep toxic and harmful things like batteries and other electronic components out of landfills. If an item plugs in or requires batteries, an eWaste recycling center will typically accept them.
For Contra Costa County, Denee uses and recommends Rapid Recycle in Pacheco. As she shares, “The Rapid Recycle team is always friendly, and dropping off electronics for recycling is easy; they’ll even unload it from your vehicle. My busy household always seems to have things like old cell phones, unused and damaged electronic cables, and electronic toys to dispose of, and so I store the items in one place and drop them off at Rapid Recycle every few months.”
From your Carlton Senior Living family, we applaud you, Denee, and all of the fantastic work you are doing to beautify the community and protect the environment. Your efforts are truly inspiring. We want to thank you for letting us “dig in” for sharing your passion and your knowledge in going green and recycling.