Her 350-mile ride for recycling makes a stop in Portsmouth

Maggie Sheerin visits 39 Rhode Island communities while promoting recycling

By Jim Mcgaw
Posted 10/1/19

PORTSMOUTH — Maggie Sheerin pedaled into the Portsmouth Police station’s parking lot at 9:05 a.m. Monday — just five minutes after her estimated time of …

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Her 350-mile ride for recycling makes a stop in Portsmouth

Maggie Sheerin visits 39 Rhode Island communities while promoting recycling

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — Maggie Sheerin pedaled into the Portsmouth Police station’s parking lot at 9:05 a.m. Monday — just five minutes after her estimated time of arrival. 

That’s impressive scheduling when you consider she was on a seven-day, 350-mile journey to visit all 39 communities in the state to promote recycling efforts. 

Her “RIde to Recycle RIght” was part of a public education campaign by the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC).

“I’m doing this to spread the message about reducing, reusing and recycling,” Ms. Sheerin said during her brief stop at the police station. “And also, to talk about composting and how easy it is and how we can adapt to the environment and make sure we are being mindful of what we use and how we dispose of it.”

Ms. Sheerin arrived at the station with her father, Patrick, who joined her for Monday’s ride only. He spent a week with his daughter when she biked across the country in 2017 to raise awareness for Recycle Across America, a nonprofit dedicated to standardizing recycling education in the United States. The 10-week trip started in Rhode Island and ended in San Francisco.

In 2016, Rhode Island became the first state in the nation to adopt a bin labeling solution from Recycle Across America. To date, over 85,000 labels are in place at more than 350 locations across the state. The standardized labels, along with RIRRC’s public education efforts, are aimed at reducing the amount of trash winding up in the mixed recycling — a challenge Rhode Island has been facing in recent years.

“We first met Maggie as she was preparing for her cross-country journey in 2017,” said Mitch Hedlund, founder of Recycle Across America. “Now, fast forward two years later and here she is getting ready to bike across Rhode Island, where she’ll see the standardized labels displayed on many bins from town to town.”

Journey continues

After posing for photos with Portsmouth Recycling Coordinator Raymond Antaya, Deputy Police Chief Michael Arnold and Sgt. Patrick O’Neill, the riders headed back out of the station and down Quaker Hill.

“We’re headed to Tiverton’s Department of Public Works, then the Little Compton transfer station,” Ms. Sheerin said. “The final destination is Providence; it started and will end in Providence. There are a couple schools along the way. The East Providence (Weaver) Library will be the last stop today.”

Along the way, she visited businesses, institutions and municipal locations that have joined RIRRC’s commitment to decreasing confusion at the recycling bin. 

And what did Ms. Sheerin think of the local roads?

“I avoided East Main Road for sure,” she said. “But the island … I think we’re getting there.”

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