Happy Earth Day!
While I do not consider myself a “tree hugger,” I do love nature and want to do my part when it comes to taking care of the earth and protecting our environment.
I believe strongly in recycling, and I cannot remember the last time I bought bottled water. Using reusable grocery bags is pretty much a habit with me. I haven’t given up the paper-towel habit, but it takes me a good long while to go through a roll.
When doing some quick research, I discovered that the first Earth Day was in April 1970. Apparently, U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson lobbied to create the Environmental Protection Agency and the agency was born later that year.
Don’t even get me started on the creation of yet another government agency, or some of the ridiculous regulations these agencies impose, but let’s focus on some of the good things about all things earth.
When I decided to write this column, I knew exactly who I would call. My friend Denise Carleton, (arguably the most serious tree hugger I know), is passionate when it comes to the environment.
Denise is also committed to educating children about what they can do, and why they should care and get involved. Instead of just “preaching” to children, Denise founded Reaping Nature Productions, a nonprofit organization that goes into schools, using kid-friendly presentations, skits and characters to teach children about the importance of taking care of our world.
Denise and I recently met for coffee to discuss her perspective on Earth Day and how we can all be more earth-friendly.
“I think the real message is that we all need to re-think recycling every day,” Denise said. “I want people to know that simply by recycling, you are supporting your local community and making a positive impact.”
Denise explained how recycling creates jobs in addition to helping our environment.
“Eagle Point Landfill is a source of revenue — the longer it is open, those employees have jobs,” she said. The more people recycle and don’t create so much garbage, the longer a landfill stays open.
Denise also explained that recycling has become a booming business. “It is amazing how many things and parts of things can be recycled … which means your ‘trash’ is now a commodity for someone else.”
It occurred to me that most of us don’t really think about, much less talk about, garbage. We are all just happy that someone else comes and picks it up and takes it away. It is as if it just disappears and we can go on with our lives.
For more perspective, I spoke with Kevin Byrd, owner of Sanitation Solutions Inc. in Forsyth County.
Kevin told me his family-owned and operated company not only encourages recycling, but they also provide customers with a large receptacle equal in size to the garbage bin.
“We want people to recycle, first of all, because it is the right thing to do, but also because it helps our business,” he said.
Kevin explained that while garbage is quite expensive to dispose of, taking recyclables to a center is not.
“We take all of our recycling to Old Atlanta Recycling,” he said.
I love that Kevin’s company is local and that he, in turn, is supporting another local company.
Every time I talk to Denise, I always think I should be doing more in the way of recycling.
One time she even invited me over to her home so I could see the system she and her family use.
It’s simple: She has cans and bins for everything in her garage, and then when they are full, she takes them to the Old Atlanta Recycling center. She says they have little actual garbage.
When I saw all that she recycled, I’m surprised they have any at all.
If you don’t recycle, please consider starting. If you do recycle, ask your garbage company if it has the large receptacles and if not, consider changing companies.
I will never reach Denise’s level, but I am definitely going to try to do more.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.