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UPDATE: Refuge cancels Global Recycling Day event

By Staff | Mar 17, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Make-and-take crafts from recycled materials will be part of the free earth-friendly activities at the Global Recycling Day celebration on March 18 at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

UPDATE: The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge has canceled the activities planned for Global Recycling Day on March 18. In addition, its free winter tours and programs have been canceled, and the Refuge Nature Store and DDWS offices are now closed to the public. However, the Visitor & Education Center and Wildlife Drive remain open as of today, March 17.



Visitors to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge will have the opportunity to take part in upcycled crafts and trivia, learn about Lee County’s recycling and more for Global Recycling Day.

On March 18, the refuge will mark the worldwide-recognized day with a host of free activities, including upcycled crafts, Recycling Trivia, a film showing of “Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic?” and a recycling program by Lee County Solid Waste, along with specials at the Refuge Nature Store.

“I think everyone, in general, is trying to do the right thing, but may be hurting instead of helping sometimes,” refuge Conservation Educator Sara Soderholm said of recycling misinformation. “This is just bringing awareness to what can be recycled, what cannot be recycled, what wish-cycling is.”

She noted that a recent statistic states there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean one day.

“If there’s something we can do now to prevent those problem in the future,” Soderholm said. “These are easy little things that we can stop doing, and if we all do it together it will make a difference.”

The day’s activities will kick off with a recycling discussion with Molly Schweers, from the Lee County Solid Waste Department, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. in the auditorium at the Visitor & Education Center. She will educate visitors about the importance of recycling to preserve natural resources.

“What we can do to help, what is accepted and what isn’t (for recycling),” Soderholm said. “How people throw a lot of things into the recycling bins that are not recyclable, and vice versa.”

It will be the first time that Schweers has spoken at the refuge.

“We’ve actually gone out and visited their facility a couple of times,” she said. “Molly Schweers is a great speaker who is passionate about the work the county does in turning trash into profit.”

Program attendees will receive a 10 percent off coupon to the Refuge Nature Store.

“She also has some goodies to hand out, as well,” Soderholm said.

From 11 to 11:30 a.m., visitors can participate in Recycling Jeopardy – with prizes – in the classroom at the Visitor & Education Center. The game will be set up like true-false trivia.

“It’s geared toward all of the public, not just youth. We encourage all ages to come and test their knowledge,” she said. “It’s always eye-opening (the answers) – and that’s what we want.”

Again, program attendees will receive a coupon to the store.

“Anyone that comes to those events we’ll be giving a 10 percent coupon to,” Soderholm said.

The film “Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic?” will be shown from noon to 2:50 p.m. in the Visitor & Education Center classroom. It begins its mission with the ill effects of plastic bags, then evolves into a wholesale investigation into plastic and its effect on waterways, oceans, wildlife and human bodies.

The film connects the dots between plastic and around 100,000 marine animal deaths each year, plus human disease from male infertility to diabetes.

“It’s really really interesting,” she said of “Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic?”

“Just realizing how many single-use plastics are out there that we don’t really need,” Soderholm said. “That there’s so many natural materials that we could be using instead of the plastics.”

From 1 to 2:30 p.m., visitors can create make-and-take Recycled Crafts in the Visitor & Education Center classroom. Using recycled materials, participants can make ornaments, clips, magnets and more.

“Something that they can continue to use,” she said. “It’s finding fun ways to reuse materials.”

The crafts are geared more toward youths.

“But we always get parents and grandparents taking part,” Soderholm said. “They have the time of their life.”

For Global Recycling Day, the Refuge Nature Store will be offering specials.

In addition to the refuge’s activities, the Lee County School District’s “Green Bus” is scheduled to come out for the day. The vehicle showcases the importance of recycling for those who hop on.

Residents and visitors are encouraged to stop by.

“Come and learn a few things. It might inspire them to make one small change that ends up making a huge difference,” she said, noting that visitors will also have the opportunity to enjoy the refuge.

“If they’re not sure about things (related to recycling), come with questions,” Soderholm added. “That’s what we’re here for, to help educate people.”

The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge is supporting the day’s activities.

For more information, contact Soderholm at 239-472-1100 ext. 236.

The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is at 1 Wildlife Drive, Sanibel.