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The Solutions
by Sara Melnicoff

We are called to assist the earth, to heal her
wounds and in the process heal our own--indeed,
to embrace the whole creation in all its
diversity, beauty, and wonder.

--Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner

David Morgan and Sara Melnicoff

When David Morgan took me on my first cleanup along the banks of the Animas River in Durango, Colorado, over 12 years ago, I had no idea that the road I was on would eventually lead me back to my own lost connection with nature. Through years of walking in streams, on trails, and along roadsides while collecting recyclables and trash, I’ve seen plant, animal, and insect life up close, thrilled to the sweet sounds of the bird’s song, and felt the warmth of the sun or the pleasing sting of the rain on my back. The beauty I’ve seen has inspired me to make the world a cleaner, safer place for all living things. It taught me that the good health of humans is linked, firmly, with the good health of every other living system. For example, the worst effects of Hurricane Katrina would have been much less devastating if New Orleans had a healthy, functioning wetlands surrounding it. The Solutions formed as a group on the premise that each of us can be beneficial to the world around us, and that for every challenge there is a solution.

Sara Melnicoff and helpers

We promote the rethink, respect, restore, reduce, reuse, and recycle lifestyle through a variety of projects, but the cleanups are especially dear to our hearts. Together we have removed thousands of pounds of recyclable cans, bottles, and other materials as well as trash from our neighborhoods and canyons and “redirected” it to Canyonlands Community Recycling and other recycling venues. We publish a free recycling directory for the Moab area, work with the City of Moab on the Friends of the Parkway and the Center Street ball field recycling programs, assist SITLA (State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration) in cleaning up dump sites, make ourselves available to help any group with its Adopt a Highway section, and much more. We would be happy to advise you in how to best set up a recycling system in your home or office, or offer tips on how to reduce your impact on the earth and create beneficial effects. Visit our website at for a complete list of projects. We welcome all comments, suggestions, or project ideas.

Solutions are talented and giving folks. Here are the musings of a few of them! --Sara Melnicoff

I started to recycle and pick up trash when I was a teenager. I had a few special places where I would go to dream and I would find litter and recyclables all around--sometimes it was really disgusting. If I wanted my special places to be clean, with no broken glass, I would have to clean them myself.

Then I realized that everywhere I looked there was some kind of trash and recyclables, so I took it upon myself to remove it. The birds started to sing; the area came alive with much love and peace. Mother Earth was pleased and blessed me with many things through the years.

Now, having a group of wonderful people that gather together and go out anywhere and anytime and remove recycling and litter while they talk and laugh is a great joy in my life. If you can, come and join us for a group cleanup and listen to the birds sing and feel Mother Earth shine on you. Solutions is a win-win for you and the community.
--David Morgan

My family and I have been recycling for many years. We have always thought that it was important not to fill up the landfills with recyclable materials. My children’s families continue to recycle now. When my husband and I retired back to Moab in 1996 we began cleaning up litter and recyclables along the roadways and walkways of the area. It is satisfying and rewarding to see the difference it makes in the environment.

When the Solutions group was formed I thought it would be great to be involved with an organization that believed, as I do, in the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle philosophy. Besides cleaning up the environment and recycling, Solutions also wants to educate people (especially children) as to the importance of recycling.

When I taught elementary school, one of the units we covered was on ecology--the importance of not littering, pick up litter if you see it, keep the air, water, and land clean, and recycle or reuse what you can. It’s really important to educate the next generation in these areas. We hope that we can interest more people in becoming a “Solution” to the problem!
--Carol Hoggard

Ann Gordon

I really, really dislike litter. For decades, I have
left campsites cleaner than I found them, even in campgrounds charging an entrance fee. Because I dislike what litter does to the face of Mother Nature, I carry empty bags with me so I can pick up other people’s tossed cups, bottles, and cans. I even picked up litter when I used to jog the city streets in Orange County, California.

After Sara started the Solutions, I marveled at her vision and tenacity. I knew I had to support her efforts in any way I could. Because I am often out of town during scheduled Solutions cleanups, I support Sara and David’s efforts to clean littered sites and to increase recycling awareness by helping with Solutions’ technology needs.

I have had a great time on every cleanup I have attended. I invite those who still haven’t participated in a cleanup to join the group one of these days. You’ll be glad you did!
--Ann Gordon

We are honored to be part-time Solutions here in Moab and engaged in such a worthy effort. Having spent the last five winters here from our home in Vermont we can see the amazing differences Sara and the Solutions have made over time. It is no easy task to collect, process, and redistribute all the litter so thoughtlessly tossed on the highways and around the beautiful canyons and trails but the Solutions are trying.

Even more admirable is that not only do the Solutions beautify the places we drive through and hike in but they teach folks how they can do their part with very little effort. Recycling is such an easy habit to adopt at home or work! Solutions also researches alternatives to the growing number of recyclables found on the roadways. One of the ways some states handle this increasing problem is to implement a bottle bill. Being from a state that has adopted the bottle bill we see firsthand the contrast when there is not one in place. Each aluminum can and glass or plastic bottle gets redeemed for a nickel, so in Vermont littering would be like tossing away money!

We have done recycling and cleanups wherever we have resided but Sara and the Solutions make it very fun and rewarding. Sara has a wealth of information about all things connected to the environment and she is happy to share her knowledge. Next time you see the Solutions out doing a cleanup, donating their own time and money, please let them know it is appreciated. And if you wish to stop and pitch in for a few minutes, drop-ins are always welcome!
--Susan and Tony Botelho

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