Each year the News-Democrat & Leader selects a “Group of the Year” to honor, one which exemplifies extraordinary accomplishments which change the face of Logan County and its citizens. It was clear to the newspaper staff that the 2013 “Group of the Year” be awarded to several who put aside individualism and came together to benefit not only the community, but the world we live in.
Although it was the Logan County Fiscal Court who pushed for a unified countywide recycling program, it couldn’t have been accomplished without the partnership of the cities of Adairville, Auburn, Lewisburg and Russellville. All five governmental branches became proactive, proving that working together can accomplish great things. The initiative also showed the rest of Kentucky that a single county can make an big impact on the environment, and educate our future generations of the importance to reduce, reuse and recycle.
Discussions of a unified countywide recycling program began well over a year ago when fiscal court, along with Scott Waste Services, launched a curbside recycling pilot program for approximately 390 customers in the county. After a year it was evident the program was a huge success. This success prompted the county to invite all four cities to join with them to offer the program to everyone who wanted it. The program officially kicked off for 9,500 households in July of 2013.
“Our recycling program is one of the initiatives I am most proud of, not just because it is good for the county, good for the environment, and good for the future, but for me, it is a symbol of how good government should work cooperatively and in the best interest of its citizens,” said Magistrate Thomas Bouldin, who was the most vocal of magistrates in getting the program started.
It was a pretty easy transition, but each city council did have to make a conscious decision to either join in with each other, or stay the status quo. At that time, before the program, the only option for recycling was individual collection and disposal at drop-off bins, or taking it to Russellville where the county has a recycling center.
For Adairville, Auburn and Russellville, it didn’t take long to realize the benefits of curbside recycling for its citizens. For the city of Lewisburg it took a little longer, as its council wasn’t sure its citizens would warm up to the idea.
Lewisburg Mayor Tina Callahan-Dye was supportive of the program from the beginning feeling it would allow her city to make a difference, while coming together in a unified effort proving that even the smallest of towns can become a part of something bigger than themselves.
Recycling offers so many benefits, from extending the life and usefulness of something that has already served its initial purpose by producing something that is usable, to saving the environment from contamination and agglomeration. It has become clear that the perceptions regarding recycling are changing. The data and statistics from various government sources reveal that a whopping $20 million could be saved every year if we all adopted the habit of recycling. Essentially, the profits that most of us continue to reap are the result of those individuals that have decided to get behind the process of recycling.
“So far I have been pleased with how the program has gone,” said Logan County Judge Executive Logan Chick. “Since we made the decision to do this several other counties have stepped up to the plate and offered it their counties. I know the city of Franklin just started a program like this about a month ago. The main thing is about doing the right thing, and teaching our kids to do the right thing and take care of the earth.”
Recycling assists in lowering the cost of manufacturing new products. Creating new products expends much more energy than using the materials that can be gathered from recycled items. This means that the cost of waste collection, sorting and incineration is still much lower than starting from scratch.
Recycling also means new jobs. In the United States alone the recycling effort is responsible for almost 1.1 million jobs. And that number is expected to rise since initiatives are in place to assist others in getting behind the recycling movement. Further, recycling is reportedly creating $37 million in salaries annually. Both the private sector and the public sector continue creating more and more jobs in this field.
The average person generates over four pounds of trash every day and about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year. Americans produced enough trash to circle the earth 24 times. Over 75 percent of waste is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30 percent of it. Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to listen to a full album on your iPod. Recycling 100 cans could light your bedroom for two whole weeks. Recycling aluminum cans saves 95 percent of the energy used to make alum cans from new material. Americans throw away 25,000,000 plastic bottles every hour.
These staggering statistics are being fought, however, at least on the local front thanks to small rural communities such as ours, whose leaders saw the foresight to put themselves and the citizens they serve along with a flourishing drive to protect our natural resources and conserve important raw materials while protecting natural habitats for the future.