The 1977 Committee to Save the Earth students. Courtesy photo

Islanders invited to participate in community forum | On History

  • Monday, September 18, 2017 3:38pm
  • Opinion

In 1969, Mercer Island High School student Bob Liberty founded The Committee to Save the Earth (CSE).

“The very first recycling event consisted of picking up cans and bottles and some cardboard from along the roadside,” Liberty wrote.

From collecting litter, CSE turned to focusing on recycling. By 1975, these dedicated students, mentored by their teacher Harry Leavitt, had envisioned, planned, funded and helped to build the Mercer Island Recycling Center. In 1976, then-Gov. Dan Evans awarded the CSE the state’s Environmental Excellence Award, accepted by MIHS student Bill Hochberg on behalf of the group.

Over the years, the center saved millions of pounds from landfill and raised thousands of dollars that were used for school and community environmental projects. However, by 2010, curbside recycling cut into the income earned through the center. It closed on Feb. 28, 2010.

The City Council decided to repurpose the building and commissioned the Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI) to lead a community-wide process to determine the best use for the building. BGI conducted a community survey and a stakeholders’ meeting and presented a 42-page report to the council on July 12, 2010. However, the council postponed action on the report and neglected to follow through on repurposing the building as the stakeholders envisioned.

This weekend, Concerned Citizens for Mercer Island Parks (CCMIP) welcomes Islanders to a community forum to update the BGI report and to provide citizen input to the council, to carry out the goals articulated by the 2010 council for re-purposing the building — focusing on “uses that will address Mercer Island’s ongoing commitment to economic, environmental and social sustainability.”

The forum “RENEW, REUSE, RE-PURPOSE” will be held from 1:30-3:30, Sept. 23 at the Mercer Island Library. A reception to honor former CSE members and celebrate the 42nd anniversary of the opening of the Recycling Center will kick off the forum. A brief DVD about the history of the center, “Saving a Piece of the Earth” (1991), will be screened, followed by a working session to generate ideas and strategies for realizing the council’s goals in 2010.

Commemorative booklets and DVDs will be given to attendees while supplies last. To reserve your copy in advance, email More information at

Meg Lippert is a member of Concerned Citizens for Mercer Island Parks, a group of Mercer Island residents dedicated to protecting parkland from development.

More in Opinion

Mercer Island’s 100 percent clean energy future | Letter

“Climate change and global warming together pose an existential threat to the planet.”

A bittersweet holiday | On Faith

Columnist expresses gratitude for late father’s wisdom

What tax reform means here at home | Guest Column

Tax reform proposals swirling around Washington, D.C. right now make some sweeping… Continue reading

Proposed MICA building in Mercerdale Park | Letter

Islanders urge city to preserve parkland.

Thankful for our community volunteers | Letter

CCMIP co-chairs thank Islanders for donating their time and labor to care for public parkland.

Questions over MIHS scavenger hunt initiation | YFS Advice

Dear YFS, I am the parent of a freshman at Mercer Island… Continue reading

Place Mercerdale Park in the land conservancy | Letter

Kudos to the city of Mercer Island and the Mercer Island Center… Continue reading

Reform needed to stop financial parasites | Letter

Presently, most of us are on the road to debt peonage. The… Continue reading

To my sea sisters — and all families of veterans | Editor’s Note

As my Navy recruiter waited in his car with the engine running… Continue reading

Thank lawmakers for voting to pass RAISE | Letter

Caregiving can be an emotionally, physically and financially draining role. Across Washington… Continue reading

Residents support Mercer Island Council candidate Joy Langley | Letters

Joy Langley — Character, experience, diversity Joy Langley has earned my vote… Continue reading