NAS Whidbey Recycle leads the way for Earth Month

Master Sgt. Tim Scribner, with Marine Aviation Training Support Group 53, right, hands used motor oil bottles to Tracy Hardwick, an employee with Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Recycle Center, during a “Dumpster Diving” event Wednesday. The annual event is part of Earth Month activities and demonstrates how much trash in the dumpsters is still recyclable. Bryan Ilyankoff/Whidbey Crosswind

Earth month activities at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island are all about education.

Paul Brewer, left, integrated solid waste program manager and Cmdr. Michael Dysart, Public Works Officer for NAS Whidbey Island, address the crowd at an open house at NAS Whidbey Recycle. Dennis Connolly/Whidbey Crosswind

So says Paul Brewer, the solid waste management program manager at NAS Whidbey.

The base’s recycling center held an open house Tuesday morning to kick off Earth Month and the activities leading up to Earth Day on April 22. According to Brewer, the planned activities are a great educational tool.

“You’ve got to remember the Navy is a pretty transient society. There are always new people coming in and the old ones leave,” Brewer said. “It’s about educating people. It kind of focuses people’s minds on the direction NAS Whidbey would like to go.”

Besides the kickoff held Tuesday, Earth Month activities will include the so-called “Dumpster Diving” event starting at 9 a.m. April 13. Dumpster diving involves picking six to eight dumpsters from around the base, Brewer said. Teams of volunteers pull everything out of the dumpsters and sort the contents by whether it’s recyclable, can be composted or is trash. Then everything is weighed in order to get an idea of how much material in the dumpster could have been disposed of differently.

At the Navy Recycle Center on Tuesday, Brewer was joined for the kickoff by Cmdr. Michael Dysart, the Public Works Officer for NAS Whidbey Island. Dysart spoke a few minutes about Earth Day.

“Earth Day is about awareness of the environment,” Dysart said. “When it started on April 22, 1970, it energized America to become a better place and people responded. The Republicans, Democrats, rich, poor, farmers, hikers and labor leaders all responded.”

But there is still more to do, he said. Events like those planned this month can help.

The big focus this year will be the beach cleanup and environmental fair scheduled for April 22. Both get underway at 9 a.m. The fair will be held at Costnen-Turner Park near the Nor’wester and the beach cleanup will stretch from Northgate Terrace all the way to the Gallery Golf Course on base property, said Brewer.

“This year we’re focusing on the beach all the way past the Navy golf course because that area’s been kind of neglected,” he explained. “We typically find tires, styrofoam, plastic bottles and cans.”

Brewer said they typically get between 200 to 300 volunteers to help with the beach cleanup. Volunteers do not have to be active duty, but they do need to have base access. Participants will be provided with bags, gloves and safety tips in case they find old hypodermic needles, for example.

“You don’t know what you’re going to find,” said Brewer. “We found a Volkswagon one year. The tires were stripped, the interior was stripped and the windows were smashed, but the whole frame was there. Somebody just dumped it. It’s crazy what you find. People think “Oh, we’ll just get rid of it,” but most of it’s recyclable.”

Register to volunteer by calling Kassie at NASWI Recycle at 257-6962 or sending an email to

– Reporter Dennis Connolly contributed
to this story.