Various articles recently have brought my attention to some exciting enterprises being initiated around the state of Ohio which will help save the environment, including a new curbside recycling program in Columbus, a $50 gift from AEP, an experimental solar trash bin in Cleveland, metal recovery and recycling in Youngstown, the Goodwill's cooperative effort to recycle books, and grants from the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) for a variety of green projects.
When Columbus asked residents what they wanted most for the 200th anniversary of the city, curbside recycling came out on top. The wish was granted after careful planning and public education. Residents now enjoy a biweekly program which alternates with yard waste collection at no additional cost. Residents have embraced the program. From June to September 2012, 4,500 tons of material have been recycled, saving the city $250,000 in landfill fees. Testimonials endorse the city's block watch meetings and presentations, the recycle newspaper, and roomy recycling carts. Recycle ambassadors spread the word through eye-catching posters, presentations at festivals, parades, and meetings which often showcase the Recycle Band. This group of young people have fashioned percussion instruments out of recyclable material, and they perform original raps with energetic dance moves. The program's success is heavily due to Rumpke's new state of the art facility which properly and efficiently sorts the items. Spinning rubber disks, overhead magnets, and optical scanners which trigger air blasts to eject plastic bottles are some of the devices used. Unfortunately, in the plastic arena, only bottles are allowed. At the Marietta Recycling Center at 915 Gilman Ave., many more plastic items are recycled as well as foil, garden pots and trays, egg cartons, and extraneous metal items.
For some time AEP has been offering $50 to residents who want to discard old, working refrigerators and freezers. The pick-up is free and interested parties can call 1-877-545-4112.
BigBellySolar has developed a solar-powered trash compactor which some major cities have embraced. Cleveland has recently installed one on an experimental basis. The unit compresses trash as it receives it, includes a recycle container, and electronically alerts a collector when it is full. It holds 5 times more garbage than a traditional bin, making collection trips less frequent. The cost is quite a bit more than the usual outlay but Philadelphia, which has about 1000 units, states that they saved $900,000 the first year.
Two young men in Youngstown are finding the scrap metal industry to be profitable. Working out of a garage, they picked up old appliances for free, stripped the precious metals out, and sold them to scrap metal yards. They recently formed a real company called Iron Man Recycling and have extended their services to a wider area. There is no shortage of old appliances and cars. By word of mouth, they are kept busy. The industry is very competitive so no slack time, but what an important link in the recycling chain.
How many hard back and paperback books end up in a landfill? Thousands, if not millions. Luckily, an unusual partnership has sprung up between a recycling broker and processor and the Goodwill to help turn the tide. Book-destruction.com has teemed up with Goodwill Columbus for collection and recycling. Individuals, schools, libraries and other groups can drop off books at any Goodwill Center in Franklin County, and they will be sold to Book-destruction.com and Green Marketing and then recycled. In the past, hard backed books were not recyclable because of the binding, but new special equipment at paper mills has circumvented this obstacle.
And finally three cheers for SWACO who recently announced $69,000 worth of grants to governments, schools and agencies for a variety of green projects. The grants are available annually. The money this year will pay for 60 new recycling stations at public libraries, picnic tables made out of recycled materials, "Go Green" internet-based programs, compost bins and turners, municipal trash bins and other worthy projects. If you would like to know if grants are awarded by the SouthEastern Ohio Joint Solid Waste Management District, go to wasteabate.org.
Everyone can help protect the environment by simply driving less, cutting down on gadgets that use electricity, turning off lights and other electrical devices when not in use, recycling everything you can, composting, buying items that aren't encased in plastic and cardboard (if you can find them), using cold water in washing machines, packing groceries in cloth bags, lowering the thermostat to 68 degrees in winter (78 degrees or higher in summer and setting the water heater at 140 degrees) and planting native plants and trees. Small steps can lead to bigger commitments like buying fuel efficient cars and appliances and investing in solar panels. Let's all do our part.
Becky Wright is a volunteer for the Marietta Recycling Center.