It’s not often that something great is born out of a simple pastime. Between his dedication to thoroughness and love for recycling, however, Dallas Parker is disrupting that notion.
As many married couples do, Dallas and his wife Meghan were just looking for something to do in their spare time. Initially, they took to YouTube and the world of vlogging.
“While we were thinking about what we were going to ‘YouTube’ about, we decided to focus on our community and what skills and content we could offer,” Parker says.
Inevitably, for Dallas, recycling came up.
While growing up in Chino Hills, California, Dallas had a lot of exposure to recycling. At church and community levels, he took part in building a recycling route that became quite successful. Later, at BYU-Idaho, Dallas’ memories of taking part in that action rekindled as took an Environmental Stewardship class.
“It got me thinking about the impact that being raised in that context had on me,” Dallas recalls. “How I think about things and my attitude about the environment, and work in general.”
Dallas shared his experience with Meghan, and together have researched what it would take to get a curbside program up and running in Rexburg. They determined that that would create the most successful long-term outcome. Which means they have been writing a lot of grant applications, including one to Coca-Cola.
“If we were successful,” Dallas says, “[Coca-Cola] would provide us with recycling bins that we could place throughout the entire community.”
He acknowledges that the startup process has been taking a while — they have been at it for a few months now. But with a program that could encompass and benefit all of Rexburg, they know it is worth the time.
Not overnight, but seemingly all at once, Exit 332 Recycling was born.
Getting the word out
With everything still in setup mode, the Parkers have found it necessary to streamline their focus. The curbside program is the hub around which everything else congregates. But even simpler than that, they have discovered, is the need for awareness.
“Rexburg has had mixed success with recycling in the past, with the city and school and everything,” Dallas says. “We decided to use this YouTube thing hand-in-hand with the Facebook page to help involve our community in recycling.”
To further create awareness, Exit 332 Recycling created the Plastic Grocery Bag Recycling Program. By coordinating with apartment managers around town, they have been able to collect numerous plastic grocery bags.
“We recognize that tons of college kids have drawers full of grocery bags,” Dallas says. “We figured we’d try to generate awareness for recycling by starting this branch.”
Dallas discovered in his research that plastic bags can be cut up into strips and tie them together so that they essentially become a ball of yarn. From there, one can crochet anything they want with it. Tonight at 6:00 p.m. Exit 332 Recycling is hosting a service project involving making sleeping mats. These will go to the Idaho Falls Area Humanitarian Center.
“This particular project is just another opportunity to help the community, generate awareness, and serve a little bit,” Dallas says. The service project will take place at the Mesa Falls Clubhouse.
Exit 332 Recycling is looking forward
For the time being, Exit 332 Recycling has limited space. They own a personal storage space where they can keep and sort through items before they take them to the plant. As such, pushing the curbside program is currently the priority. But the Parkers have high hopes for the future.
“I have all the experience in the world sorting [recyclables] out and getting them properly bagged,” Dallas says. “But in the future, if we generated enough money to establish a deal with the city, I would love to have a dropoff spot as well.”
Dallas also hopes to work more closely with the BYU-I Recycling Center, as well as the college students.
“The college students, especially the single students, typically live in the densest housing environment, which generates a lot more waste,” Dallas says.
More than anything, though, the goal is to help the coming generation learn good recycling habits.
“We want kids to learn the things I learned, about work and taking personal responsibility for our impact on the environment,” he adds.
By focusing on the curbside program, and thus on the local residents, Exit 332 Recycling seeks to accomplish its goals. And also reach the kids of these families who will be exposed to the practice.
“The families stay and establish those patterns,” Dallas says. “And they have kids. If they move on and go somewhere else, they’ll take these things with them.”