Happy America Recycles Day! In honor of this day, Winthrop hosted an event to spread awareness about recycling and waste. Alysen Woodruff, the Clean Community Coordinator from York County, and Leslie Hatchell from York County Collection and Recycling, came on Thursday to talk to students about the recycling and its importance.
Woodruff is in charge of beautification and litter reduction in York County, and Hatchell works with public education outreach and helps people to understand about recycling. “It’s important for people to understand that [recycling] shouldn’t be more work, it is just simply placing [trash] in a different place,” Hatchell said.
She explained that they try to make it easy as possible for people to recycle by offering curbside recycling and instead of individuals sorting out their recycling, they can dump everything in a blue bag, and the materials will be separated in the center.
She said its good to see someone who never recycle, start to, and see how they become more sustainable. “Once you start recycling, its amazing to see how rarely you throw trash away,” Hatchell said.
In 1997, America’s recycles day was founded. A video clip from History Channel’s show Modern Marvels: Garbage which explained the history of waste and its relationship with humans. Garbage began to appear about 10,000 years ago when people began to settle in one place, however according to the video, garbage did not become a problem until cities began to develop. The piled up waste and garbage began to cause disease, though no one had figured out that the living conditions were linked with disease.
Some of the earliest garbage disposal methods were ocean dumping and the British incinerators. However, WWII produced the modern landfill in which waste was buried in the ground. When the U.S. entered into the age of consumerism, new toxic waste had to be disposed of. One of the largest landfills is on Staten Island, NY. It is the Fresh Kills Landfill and it spans 5 sq. miles.
Some archaeologists dig through landfills to get a sense of how people lived, and to monitor waste and pollution. Silent Spring was also talked about in the video. Silent Spring is a book about the future of Earth with its human population polluting it. On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day celebration was held. The Environmental Protection Agency was also created in that same year. At the end of the video, an important point was made: “No matter what you do, you will generate waste.” To watch the full video, visit history.com.
In 1991, the Solid Waste Policy Act was passed which required counties to weigh the amount of garbage and to have some of recycling coordinator. Hatchell spoke about green box sites around the Rock Hill area when she was at school at Winthrop. They were giant green boxes on the side of the road that acted as a dump. In 45 counties in South Carolina, these green box sites have slowly been replaced by dumps or recycling centers. Rock Hill also offers curbside recycling.
Hatchell explained that the credibility of the recycling center was one of the hardest things they had to deal with. “If we tell you to recycle, we have to make sure the market is stable,” Hatchell said. They have to make sure they can accept those recyclables and that they will and can be used. They also have to fight rumors from the media about them not recycling. “If it is in the book, it’s true,” Hatchell said about the York County Recycling Guidebook.
The recycling center owns its own equipment, and hires its own drivers to haul the recyclables away. Winthrop University also hauls off all its own recyclables. There is no landfill in York County, so the of the trash goes to a transfer site in York and then transferred to a landfill in Columbia.
Hatchell and Woodruff brought some regular consumer items to Dina’s Place. Some items included a Radio Flyer wagon made of recycled milk jugs, drinking glasses made out of recycled salsa jars. A soaker hose made from recycled tires, shoes made from two liter coke bottles.
Hatchell explained to students that they need to find out where all the recycle bins are and what can be recycled. “You are welcome to use our centers,” Woodruff said to the students.
At the end of the program, Chris Johnson, Winthrop’s sustainability coordinator, spoke to the students to let them know of other sustainable events and announcements to come. He said that by after Thanksgiving break, students will see five outdoor recycling stations around campus.
For more information about recycling in York County visit www.yorkcountygov.com/recycle. For more information about recycling at Winthrop visit www2.winthrop.edu/sustainability.