Using a recycling bin may not seem like an act of faith, but to Jon Burke at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Stillwater, it makes perfect sense, and it led to a first-of-its-kind recycling grant.

In June 2015, Burke saw an advertisement for the BizRecycling program sponsored by the Ramsey/Washington County Resource Recovery Project. As a church member and the building manager at Our Savior’s Lutheran, Burke saw the program as an opportunity to improve the church’s stewardship of the Earth’s resources and to trim waste disposal costs.JonBurke_RecyclingBins_sm

The church’s limited recycling efforts were expanded using a BizAware Grant from BizRecycling that was received in October 2015. As a result, the church’s eight-cubic-yard dumpster now is emptied every two weeks instead of every week. Recycling has doubled to four 96-gallon recycling containers every week. According to Burke, the improved recycling program saves $2,760 per year in waste disposal costs and eliminates 26 dumpsters, 208 cubic yards, of garbage annually.

“As part of the BizRecycle program, Greta Rittenhouse of Minnesota Waste Wise helped assess and plan the recycling program. She also worked with me to prepare the grant application,” Burke said. “Greta said we were the first church in the St. Croix Valley to get this recycling grant.”

Burke hopes the benefits of recycling at Our Savior’s Lutheran will encourage other churches to expand their own recycling programs.

The recycling bins are also used by Lakes Area Discovery Center pre-school, which operates on weekdays at the church. Burke says he also encourages the community organizations that use the church building to recycle their wastes as well.

“We have educated our church members and friends to use the recycling bin by putting articles in our church newsletter, weekly emails, and bulletins at our Sunday services,” Burke said.

“Once the new recycling bins arrived, Greta came here to educate our staff in how to use the expanded recycling program. We don’t just recycle aluminum cans anymore. Now we also collect plastic bottles, tin cans, newspapers, office paper, paperboard, cardboard, and glass bottles,” Burke said.

The church will be having special services and a recycling display on April 24 in celebration of Earth Day. Our Savior’s Lutheran Church is located at 1616 W. Olive St. in Stillwater.

For More Information:

Jon Burke, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Stillwater, Minnesota, 651-439-5704

[Photo Caption: Jon Burke used a BizAware Grant to purchase new recycling containers and a cart to easily collect and haul recyclables at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. ] (4/14/16. photo provided by Our Savior’s Lutheran Church)