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Making sustainability personal: Flea markets offer more than just good bargains

Northwest Guardian

Published: 03:27PM April 24th, 2014

Love a good bargain? Joint Base Lewis McChord’s Earth Day Flea Market is a lot more than that.

Not only will visitors to Saturday’s event get some great deals from military families selling their used household items, but they will also learn the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling.

“Some people will just throw away their used stuff, or they will donate it, but this is more beneficial because it helps community members,” said Miriam Easley, Directorate of Public Works sustainability outreach coordinator on JBLM. “People will also be able to learn that there are easy steps they can take to improve their own life and sustainability efforts.”

Visitors can shop and learn about sustainability through visiting booths, displays and workshops on various topics that personally affect them.

“They will be able to make their own environmentally safe cleaning products, will learn about the habitats and species in their neighborhoods and can learn ways they can save and make money through conservation,” Easley said.

Learning these facts is important, she said, especially for Americans who live in the No. 1 trash-producing and exporting nation in the world.

Although people can choose to participate in Earth Day in many ways — planting gardens, avoiding driving, volunteering or anything that promotes conservation — Easley said this year DPW wanted to incorporate Earth Day with the popular Spring Flea Market because the market has a big draw of people.

“It was easy for us to just streamline and organize one big event instead of two, and this was the perfect fit for Earth Day,” Easley said. “When talking about sustainability, we have to make it fun and personal for people, and this event does that.”

With all that JBLM does, it continues to be a Net Zero installation under the DOD, which means JBLM reduces and returns water usage, and reduces and recovers waste in an effort to have zero impact on landfills.

Because of increased recycling education and programs like JBLM’s, recycling in the U.S. has increased. According to the EPA, the percentage of municipal solid waste being recycled has increased from less than 10 percent in 1980 to more than 34 percent in 2012.

However, worldwide waste production also is increasing.

“I hope people come away from this event knowing that sustainability is something they can do and are probably already doing,” Easley said. “I like all the volunteering events we’ve had this week, like planting community gardens. We will be able to wrap it up with a bang at the flea market, and have a little fun after all our hard work this week.”

The flea market will be held from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the MWR Fest Tent behind the bowling alley on Lewis Main. Entrance is free, but bring cash for purchasing items.