Questioning the Locals: Regan Watts
free-wheelin’ discussion with local folks
Regan Watts is a relative newcomer to the Chippewa Valley, but she has already fallen in love with the area’s natural resources. That shouldn’t be a surprise, considering she is the new Recycling & Sustainability Coordinator for Eau Claire County. In that role, it’s her job to run the county’s recycling program and to create sustainability initiatives that will help the county reach its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.
What’s your name?
Neighborhood you live in, city:
North Side Hill, Eau Claire
How long have you lived in the Chippewa Valley:
Two months. My husband, son, and I just moved here from Iowa City at the beginning of May.
Describe a rewarding experience you’ve had in your current job?
During my short amount of time with the county, I have been overwhelmed, in a good way! The amount of excitement the community has for the existing recycling program and the addition of sustainability is refreshing. I am excited to interact with even more residents and provide educational and volunteer opportunities to the community. We will need “all hands-on deck” to accomplish the county’s sustainability goals.
What is one sustainable action you take every day that can better the world if we all did it too?
I was recently inspired by a campaign called “Take 3 for the Sea.” Every time I am walking the dog or out and about, I pick up three pieces of trash and make sure they get disposed of properly. I have started a hashtag on our county recycling Facebook page, #Take3ECC, and would love to see residents helping keep the Eau Claire area litter-free.
We really need to view sustainability as a community effort and an investment in the community and our future.
What place in town considers you a regular?
Phoenix Park, my husband and I love taking our son and dog there on the weekends and going to the farmers market. It is such a beautiful area and is so unique. We have managed to go almost every weekend since we moved.
What is one of the best experiences you’ve had in the Chippewa Valley?
Everyone is so proud of this area and wants to share about all of the amazing things to do. I started keeping a list of all the recommendations we have gotten. My favorite though has been going to 44 North, sitting on the outdoor patio, and enjoying the free music, and seeing all the people dancing by the stage in the park. It’s just a really fun place to be.
What is the worst thing you have found in a recycling bin? How did it make you feel?
Electrical cords, plastic bags, plastic film, all of these things are a big safety issue for the material recovery facilities. Two times a day they will shut down the sorting machines and someone has to climb in and pick out all the “tanglers” in the machine. It is a very dangerous task, so I always feel concerned for the safety of those workers when I see that. It let’s me know there is still a lot of work to do.
What do you think the Chippewa Valley really needs?
This isn’t exclusive to the Chippewa Valley, but we really need to view sustainability as a community effort and an investment in the community and our future. These problems we are facing can’t be solved by a single government, resident, or business. It is going to take a collaborative community approach if we want to achieve carbon neutrality and run on 100% renewable energy by 2050.