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Benefits of recycling come back to community

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POSTED: August 30, 2011 7:00 a.m.
Danielle Hipps/

Keep Liberty Beautiful intern Jonathan Golden unloads a computer tower from a recycler’s truck during Saturday’s Recycle-It! Fair while others look on.

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Used electronics, old clothing and other recyclables donated during Saturday’s Keep Liberty Beautiful Recycle-It! Fair will be repurposed throughout the community with some philanthropic side effects.

Ink cartridges and cell phones collected during the drive will be donated to the Liberty County Relay for Life and the Georgia Transplant Foundation to trade in for cash as a way to raise funds, according to KLB executive director Sara Swida said.

“They don’t get a tremendous amount of money, but they do get something out of it,” she said.

Residents unloaded truck beds full of used computer equipment during the quarterly event, which was in the parking lot of the Liberty County Health Department.

Thanks to partnerships with Goodwill Industries, Coastal Auto & Recycling and Liberty County Solid Waste, the conservation group collected items such as electronics, batteries, printers, fluorescent bulbs, and even used vehicle chemicals.

One recycler, Kelly Greek, dropped off used computers that had been collecting dust and taking up space at the Independent Telecommunication Pioneer Association and museum at Bryant Commons.

“I know some of that stuff doesn’t do well in landfills,” she said, adding that employees there were waiting for the opportunity to properly dispose of the items. Knowing that Goodwill’s staff will clear the computers’ drives of personal information is also a security assurance, Greek said.

Event partner Goodwill clears computer memories and either re-sells the electronics or hands them over to the Dell Reconnect Program, which disposes of them through a proper waste process — an especially important task, since electronics and appliances create about 75 percent of the toxins in our landfills, Swida said. 

“When you think about how the electronics items have increased over the years, and how quickly they become obscure, there’s a tremendous amount out there,” she said. From monitors to scanners to towers, computer products comprised the majority of the items turned in during the drive.

“We’ve got monitors coming in that I haven’t seen in 10 years,” Goodwill assistant special projects manager Jackie Moss said.

“This stuff is not going to go in a landfill; it’s not going to end up in some lake in China,” said Goodwill special projects manager Steve Bellmoff.

When people donate their used items to Goodwill, they’re benefitting the community in many ways, Bellmoff added. The company provides employment and job training skills to those with disabilities or other barriers to employment in addition to selling the items at low-costs in its resale stores.

“When we get donations of clothes, books, or household items, we use that as a way in training people to work — and they get paid to do this,” Bellmoff said. “We’re all in this together to do the same thing: We want to help people.”

Other donations that pay it forward include household paint. The drive collected a couple large buckets of paint, and if they are in usable condition, they will be given to the Habitat for Humanity in Statesboro.

“When people have paint left over, a lot of us tend to hold it, thinking we’ll need it down the road — but people tend to hold it for 20 years or so, and it’s not so useful then,” Swida said. Disposing of wet paint can also result in toxins permeating an area and pervading groundwater.

If paint cannot be put to good use, the best way to get rid of it is to pour sand or cat littler into the can and allow it to completely dry before throwing it away as usual, she said.

The event also serves as a reminder to recycle everyday items, too.

In January, Walthourville began a mandatory curbside recycling program for its residents at no extra cost to their regular trash collection, according to city employee Margaret Bess.

But other areas in the county still rely on recycling centers, which may seem like an inconvenience, Swida said. She recommends that households make small changes to their habits, such as beginning to recycle cans and bottles.

“Once you’ve done that, you’ll realize that it doesn’t really change your routine,” she said.

 

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