Monday, May 18, 2009

Clean and Green

Tanjie Schrimsher and Lynne Hart

Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful

Lynne Hart, Executive Coordinator, and Tanjie Schrimsher, Recycling Coordinator of Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful, Inc gave a fascinating talk on litter and recycling to residents of Bay Hill Village Sunday, May 17, 2009 in the marina’s meeting room.

Betty Harrison signs in

Lynne kicked off the program focusing on KALB’s “Clean and Green” mission, combining the topics of litter and recycling for a well-rounded community educational program. KALB works with Athens events such as the Fiddler’s Convention, Soul Stock and various vendors by providing litter bags to patrons to clean up after themselves and take responsibility for their own trash. Delightfully, she reported that although the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts are fully armed with bags and pick-up-sticks, the amount of litter after each event seems to be lessening.

According to research, there are three reasons people litter:

1 – When people do not take ownership of a place they don’t take care of it.

2 – People believe someone will pick up after them.

3 – People tend to litter where litter has already accumulated.

4 – Lynne adds this to this list – LAZINESS.

Wilda Davis, Helen Kloock, Jim Starke and Sue Starke

Lynne jokingly calls plastic bags “our state bird,” because one can see these floating things in our skies as much as one can see birds. They perch in trees and swim among our waters, just like our feathered friends. That’s rather sad. She informed us about plastic bags in our waterways and oceans, telling us that sea turtles in particular try to eat plastic bags and have been found with them stuck in their throats or wrapped around their heads. Why? A sea turtles favorite food is jelly fish. A floating plastic bag looks just like a jellyfish. Albatross are becoming extinct because they are feeding their young plastic. They don’t know it’s plastic obviously, but plastic pellets look just like fish eggs, a key food of the baby albatross. Dead chicks have been found with their stomachs filled with plastic.

We all learned about an area in the South Pacific called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Lynne encouraged us to Google it, and I did this morning while writing this piece for the blog. I was sickened by the photos and narrative, so much so that I immediately went to my kitchen to see what I have in my trash. An avid recycler, I was shocked by some of the things that I had in my garbage can. I must make even more changes in my household.

Carroll Adams introduces Lynne and Tanjie while Jayne Schmidt, Mary Radant, Linda Grinde and Betty Benson look on.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is easily twice the size of Texas and may be as large as the United States. I urge you to click through the link and read about this. Who knew?

We also learned this critical information: Plastic photo-degrades, it never, ever biodegrades. Plastic will out live us.

Our landfills are so tightly compacted that the elements necessary for decomposition- light and moisture - never reach the products. 50-year-old newspapers have been unearthed intact, and can still be read.

Cigarette filters and their proper disposal gave us much to think about. Cigarette filters are made of plastic, and they take 12 years or longer to break down. However, even more importantly is that these filters collect toxins – obviously, chemical toxins from the cigarette itself. These toxins leach out of these filters into our environment. That may not sound like much but when you consider the trillions – TRILLIONS – of filters that are thoughtlessly flicked out of car windows, rubbed out under shoes and left on pavement, tossed into our waterways – it’s staggering.

Lynne told attendees about KALB’s Adopt A Spot and Community Clean-up programs. KALB helps sponsoring communities and groups with bags, vests, pick-up-sticks and other supplies. Groups can choose and area and clean it up just once, or choose to clean it more often. Call Lynne for information or head to the website.

Betty Benson looks through the KALB handout

After Lynne’s sobering message, Tanjie entertained us with Show & Tell – various recyclables and examples to pass around as she educated us about the local recycling program.

We learned a new word – “Nurdles.” Plastic pellets that are the beginning of all plastic products. Nurdles are what the albatross’s pick up and feed to their young, in addition to other shiny plastic “treats.”

Again – remember – plastic is NOT biodegradable – it is photodegradable. I was going to give you the definition of “photodegradable” via Wikipedia, but link here and read it for yourself. Reading the definition gave me a headache.

The United States of America contains 5% of the world’s population, but we generate 19% of the world’s garbage.

Fritz Schmidt reads through the information

Tanjie shared great examples of what can and cannot be recycled at the Athens facility, and passed out a good chart to help us. We learned that our recycling bin here can be analyzed and changed according to our needs, as some were asking about magazine recycling instead of newspaper recycling.

Link here to KALB for a complete list of what can be recycled:

Some fascinating Recycling Facts:

Go here for information on recycling hazardous materials:

Participants asked about specific recycling challenges, like motor oil, paint and paint cans, batteries of all kinds, cell phones, Solo Cups, shredded office paper (bagged, please), phone books and even ELECTRONICS RECYLING.

For every ton of garbage generated 6 people are employed; for every ton of recycling generated 34 people are employed.

We all need to do our part

This was a fantastic program and we would like to thank Lynne Hart and Tanjie Schrimsher for their time and efforts. Our community really got into the subject and asked all manner of wonderful, useful questions. Thank you all for coming.

The Bay Hill Conservancy sends our sincere thanks to Lynne and Tanjie, and also to Bill Wojciechowski, the Recycling Center Manager. Athens and Limestone County are fortunate to have such a forward-thinking organization leading its citizens toward responsible stewardship. Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful!

The Bay Hill Conservancy also thanks Arnie Kloock, General Manager of Bay Hill Marina for graciously donating the meeting room for our program. We also thank Carolyn Green, Assistant Marina Manager of Bay Hill Marina, for her assistance with preparation.

No wonder I'm gaining weight!

Our thanks as well to all the Conservancy regulars who brought such tasty treats - YUMMY!!! We may have to write our own cookbook - we are blessed with fantastic bakers and cooks!!!

1 comment:

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Wonderful blog post. I've seen the contents of albatross stomaches. A heartbreaking sight.