To protect the environment for future generations, Concord resident encourages others to reduce and recycle 

  • Jocelyn Jerry Wolcott of Concord is teaching the value of recycling. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Concord resident Jocelyn Jerry Wolcott is hoping to teach the next generation the value of recycling and protecting the enviroment. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Published: 3/4/2023 7:50:20 PM
Modified: 3/4/2023 7:50:05 PM

If a coat has a tear, she patches it up. If a bunch of bananas is going bad, she makes banana bread. That’s how 70-year-old Concord resident Jocelyn Jerry Wolcott consciously makes lifestyle changes to do her small part to protect the environment.

“I just don’t buy stuff just to buy stuff,” said Wolcott. “I buy something new only when it wears out.”

Reducing and recycling have always been a part of Wolcott’s life.

Growing up in the 1950s with her environmentally conscious family in the Adirondacks region, Wolcott was constantly exposed to conversations about climate change. She grew up with an appreciation for the outdoors and nature and she saw her family repair everything they could. No item was discarded until it was completely useless.

In all of Wolcott’s pictures until high school, she would be wearing clothes that her mother sewed. Life was simpler back then, she said, and people didn’t need much. But now, her children are overwhelmed by the number of possessions they have.

“When you think about reduce, reuse and recycle, it’s about less stuff and asking do we need all of this?” said Wolcott.

As a social worker, Wolcott works with children at Broken Ground Elementary School in Concord. She had the opportunity to go to the Wheelabrator plant, a waste management facility that converts trash to energy with the school children.

At the plant, she was astounded when she saw the massive pile of waste to be burned and thought to herself that people don’t understand the life cycle of products. As she witnessed the heap of trash the plant manages, she became more concerned than ever about reducing waste and started working on finding potential solutions.

“I feel strongly as an educator about getting people to understand what we need to be doing,” Wolcott explained. “So when I look at the environmental aspect, I think about how we can educate more people on what they themselves can be doing.”

These individual choices can be big and small – bringing reusable bags to the grocery store to reduce plastic waste, drinking from a refillable water bottle instead of a single-use container, composting food scraps, driving a more fuel-efficient vehicle and, of course, buying less stuff.

Wolcott seizes every opportunity to switch to more sustainable alternatives.

For several years, she had been driving a hybrid car with better fuel economy to cut back on gas emissions. When electric vehicles became popular on the market, she made the shift and now she drives a Tesla.

Living an environmentally conscious lifestyle for over 30 years has become second nature to Wolcott, and she sometimes doesn’t realize the choices she makes are better for the environment.

She does not start the dishwasher until it is completely full. She does not warm up the car before getting in. She avoids single-use plastic.

In her efforts to divert waste from landfills, she has been on a journey to discover recycling facilities in New Hampshire that could help recycle almost everything she used or has at home.

“In social work, when you have a problem, you make a plan,” said Wolcott. “I’m always looking at problems that exist and trying to figure out what potential solutions would be to things.”

For instance, Wolcott collects and pays to ship any snack wrappers she comes across to TerraCycle, a waste management company in New Jersey, whether they come from schoolchildren or her children and grandchildren. Recently, she discovered Aurum Recovery, a recycling business in Goffstown that disassembles electronics like computers, laptops and mobile phones and uses the parts to create new products.

Styrofoam is her biggest nemesis, she said. She’s presently working to figure out how to repurpose or recycle pieces of Styrofoam that were used to package a large mixer she received as a gift for Christmas.

Wolcott is concerned about the future as New Hampshire’s winters become warmer. She wants her grandchildren to be able to experience the beauty of winter and snow as she did by skiing and snowshoeing. She said it’s frightening to see the damage humans have done to the environment over the years and she wants to protect it for future generations.

“To be eco-conscious, it takes more time; you have to be creative,” said Wolcott. “But it’s a priority for me, and we have a responsibility to the world, animals, our children and theirs.”

Sruthi Gopalakrishnan

Sruthi Gopalakrishnan covers environmental and energy stories in Bow, Hopkinton, Dunbarton and Warner for the Concord Monitor. In 2022, she graduated from Northwestern University with a master's degree in journalism, specializing in investigative reporting. She also has a bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Engineering and is always looking for new ways to incorporate data and visual elements into her stories. Her work has appeared in Energy News Network, Prism Reports and Crain's Chicago Business.

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