Clean & Green – Give The Gift Of Recycling

By on December 3, 2015

Recently, I had the privilege and pleasure of providing the program for all 5th and 6th grade 4H Club meetings during the month of November. Yes, nearly 50 presentations and over 1,000 students reached in about 3 weeks. Am I tired? Yes. Was it good? Absolutely!

Recycling was the topic since America Recycles Day is celebrated in November. The students learned so much as we played a rousing game of Environmental Jeopardy.
One of the questions was “Name three things that should be recycled after Christmas.” Most of the students were able to get that one right. Can you?
The holidays create lots and lots of materials that need to be disposed of in some way. Here are a few things that you can and should recycle:
• Gift wrap
• Tissue paper
• Gift bags that can’t be reused
• Christmas cards
• Gift boxes that won’t be reused
• Shipping boxes
• Cooking oil (from all those turkeys and other good things)
• Aluminum cans and plastic bottles (from all the parties)
• Electronics that have been replaced by Santa
• Glass bottles and jars (what was in them is our secret)

Another question asked was, “Why is it helpful to flatten boxes before recycling?” The answer is that it saves space. It saves space where you store them before taking them to the recycling center. It saves space in the collection bins and trailers which means they don’t have to be emptied as often. This is especially important when using the cardboard collection trailers located at most county schools. When the boxes are not broken down, the trailers fill up very quickly which means multiple trips by center employees to empty them. Flattening the boxes would allow so much more to be put in the trailers before they needed to be emptied, saving time, gas, and money.

The Athens-Limestone Recycling Center is part of Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful which is a non-profit organization. The center services the trailers in the city and county schools, and city and county businesses without charge. The simple step of breaking down cardboard and using the other collection bins correctly is one way of helping keep costs down for the center.

The students also discussed the fourth R of recycling – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, RESPECT. They were asked to explain how respect fits in with the action of recycling. They needed a bit of help with this one and so do many adults.
When we do anything, we should always think about the next person who will be working with or handling what we’ve done. If a cardboard box is recycled without removing Styrofoam peanuts, chances are someone will find those peanuts in their crops, on the roadway, or in their yards. If block Styrofoam is left in the boxes, the recycling staff has to remove it before processing or it can contaminate a bale of cardboard. When recycling milk jugs, rinse them out if possible. Milk does not smell good after a few days. One business tossed all of their bathroom trash in with their recycling, which meant the center staff had to pick out all of that trash so the rest of the materials could be recycled. That is a clear example of disrespect in recycling!

The students had a lot to think about. It is my hope that these children take what they’ve learned and pass it on to their parents and others. It is also my hope that their parents will listen to their children and apply those lessons.
It only takes a few minutes to make sure your bountiful holiday trash is handled properly. Recycle all you can, and be sure to consider that fourth R – Respect.

Please call the Recycling Center at 256-233-8746 or the KALB office with any questions you have about what you can or cannot recycle.
Enjoy the holidays!