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On the roster of pollution problems, baling twine ranks well below, say, carbon dioxide emissions and radon.

Still and all, there’s a bunch of twine in places such as Baker County, where the stuff is to farmers and ranchers what duct tape is to many city dwellers.

Until recently, though, there was no easy way for local residents to responsibly get rid of strands of twine that were no longer useful.

Some landowners resorted to burning piles of twine. This is not only bad for the environment — burning plastic twine produces noxious and toxic smoke — but it’s potentially bad for the owner’s bank account. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality could fine you $10,000 for burning plastic.

Thanks to Sara Bates, local twine users needn’t foul the atmosphere nor bankrupt their operation.

Bates, who lives in Keating Valley, started East Oregon Plastics in 2009. She collects twine, as well as nursery bags and other plastic trash, in Baker, Union and Wallowa counties.

In her first year Bates gathered more than 200,000 pounds of plastic. That’s 100 tons of potential pollution that will be recycled rather than burned, or buried in a landfill.

That’s a trifling amount on a global scale, sure.

But solving the global pollution problem will require little efforts in a whole lot of places — all intertwined, if you will.

We appreciate Bates’ work to make Baker County one of those places.


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