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Charlotte Milan, town recycling coordinator, plans to speak about "Our Wasteful Society: Did We Do Better In the Old Days"? at the Arlington Historical Society at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 28, at the Masonic Temple, 19 Academy St.

Questions to be addressed will be the following: Why do we have so much stuff? And what are we supposed to do about it when we’re done with it? How did our predecessors manage trash? When did recycling become a thing?

It is free for members and $5 for nonmembers.

Milan looks at waste from both historical and sociological perspectives, according to an email from the organization.

“As a community, we have competing interests when it comes to waste,” she said. “We have public health imperatives, we have freedom to consume as we like -- and we have only one planet's worth of resources. Balancing how we use and conserve these resources has local and global implications.“Kingsley the Kangaroo” DPW Garbage Truck (1974) Robbins Library Collection“Kingsley the Kangaroo” DPW Garbage Truck (1974) / Robbins Library Collection

"If there’s something we can relearn from the past about reducing waste, let’s learn it now, and fast! Modern conveniences, modern problems. Recycling has been around only as long as packaging has been around. Since we can’t each go back to old farming ways, let’s look together at what we can learn from the past and bring into our future."

According to information sent by the society to its members, Milan started recycling in the 1970s by helping her mother sort glass bottles at the local transfer station. After studying anthropology, social work and business, she returned to the field of waste reduction, becoming the town’s recycling coordinator in 2012.

She recruited volunteers to help launch the Arlington DPW Reuse & Recycling Center.

She said that she appreciates the deep environmental commitment of Arlingtonians and strives to co-create projects and programs that excite this community of waste reducers while bringing the  town to the forefront of environmental stewardship. 

This news announcement was published Wednesday, March 23, 2023, based on a recent email sent out to society members.