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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Sarasota County, North Port, Florida, USA

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Sarasota County, North Port, Florida, USA
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Registered: December 2009
City/Town/Province: North Port
Posts: 2
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Did you know that a pizza box can be recycled? As long as the top part does not have any grease, oil or old cheese stuck to it, the entire box can be recycled?
Did you know envelopes with windows on them can be mixed in with newspapers and regular junk mail?
In addition to regular recycling tips, a small group of friends and I went around my neighborhood and school to explain how to maximize recycling and save money for residents and the city of North Port where I live.
In the city, there are more than 12,000 homes with 55,000 people here with 10,000 of them being children. I think the children understand what it means to recycle. It is part of a teacher's lesson plans from pre-kindergarten. We have had guest speakers come into our schools to talk about why it's important to recycle in our town. But, sometimes their parents don't. Some of their parents and grandparents are from the generation that threw trash out the window and didn't think twice about reusing or recycling.
Our town is also a huge melting pot. At our elementary, middle and high schools, there are 21 different languages spoken. We have a large contingent of Ukrainian and Russian families who have come to live here.
Recycling is mandatory in North Port. I can always tell the households that don't recycle. They are the ones with bulging garbage totes. Anyone who recycles can literally have less than two or three garbage bags loaded into their tote and still easily close it.
Instructions about what can be recycled are usually distributed in English. So, my friends and I went to some of our English as a second language speaking neighbors to show them as best as we could how to recycle.
We took a few visual aides such as cardboard, plastic sour cream containers, half gallon milk jugs, junk mail, a few newspapers and glass bottles. I also brought a Coca Cola six pack wrap.
We would knock on each door and attempt to show how to cut up the plastic six pack holder. We would explain that it can end up in the ocean where birds or fish can get tangled in them. Some of the Ukrainian individuals we spoke to understood what we were saying and why it is important. I didn't get too technical with everyone I spoke to but one elderly man and I had a great conversation. I got to explain how the city is charged tipping fees at the landfill which is in another town. So not only do the garbage trucks have to travel a long way to and from neighborhoods and into the landfill, but the loads are heavy. The city is charged thousands of dollars a day to discard trash. We have once a week pick up along with recycling and yard waste. Residents have to call for special pickups like washing machines, computers and other appliances and furniture.
By showing neighbors how to recycle, I believe they will also be doing their part to get rid of newspapers, plastics, glass and cardboard. Recycling reduces the amount of actual trash inside the tote. While the city makes people pay $50 for a second garbage tote, the recycling bins are free. Unfortunately, I've seen some people use the bright blue recycling totes as a laundry basket. But, by getting at least 50 more people to convert their "throw everything away" habit and to recycle, we believe we've made a small difference. For some of them, recycling will be a new life-long routine they will continue.
We were even able to explain that the city of North Port has gone "green." The city is printing its newsletter for all homeowners on recycled paper. I was able to show one of my friends at school what that meant when we got a copy of the newsletter. I crumbled it up in a ball and explained what would happen to it in the landfill versus in the recycling bin. I did the same thing with soda cans.
People really seemed to respond. They promised to rinse out dirty recyclables and bag up paper.
One woman named Buddy Hughes was so excited about recycling, she promised to collect toilet paper rolls, egg cartons and plastic containers. Now she brings it to me. My job is to distribute her seven bags of recyclables to local art classes at elementary schools, to the Boys and Girls Club, to the Summer Recreation Camp program and to the middle school. Teachers have become creative with the donations. The students make arts and crafts out of them including cardboard flutes, kaleidoscopes and totem poles. They pour paint for art students into the egg cartons and use the plastic containers to store other supplies.
If us young people stay committed to creative recycling and getting others to buy into the many benefits to themselves, the city and the community, than we are proving this generation cares about preserving the environment. I've spent 44 hours doing this project and really enjoyed helping and meeting others.
Date: December 19, 2009 Views: 2946 File size: 42.0kb, 422.4kb : 2500 x 1875
Hours Volunteered: 129
Volunteers: 4
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 16 to 18
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 10
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Registered: December 2009
City/Town/Province: North Port
Posts: 2
December 19, 2009 12:43am

Your mom is proud of you.