Bellingham recycling pioneer Carol Rondello dies at 66

Carol Rondello, an early advocate and organizer for recycling and other environmental programs in the city, died Tuesday, June 16, at her Bellingham home. She was 66. A private funeral is planned.

In the early 1980s, after the League of Women Voters studied solid waste issues and the local chapter began recycling for its members, Rondello and other volunteers organized curbside recycling, starting in Birchwood neighborhood and soon spreading to other city neighborhoods. Within five years, 10 neighborhoods had curbside pickup — some weekly, some monthly — under an umbrella group called Bellingham Community Recycling.

Those neighborhoods accounted for nearly two out of every three households in Bellingham. The effort, possibly the largest volunteer-run recycling program in the country at the time, was intended to convince Bellingham to make curbside recycling a city-run service.

“Our goal was never to be recyclers,” Rondello told The Bellingham Herald in 2014 for a story marking the 25th anniversary of curbside recycling by local governments. “It was to show the city the public wanted and embraced it.”

Rondello also served as executive director of Environmental Resource Services, now called RE Sources, for many years, and was the regional blood drive coordinator for Puget Sound Blood Center since 2000.

She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in early 2014. In lieu of flowers, donation checks in her memory may be sent Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, P.O. Box 19023, Seattle, WA 98109; or call 206-288-2070 to donate by phone.

Reach Dean Kahn at 360-715-2291 or dean.kahn@bellinghamherald.com. Read his columns at bellinghamherald.com/dean-kahn.