Education efforts help Tonganoxie get green
It isn't easy being green, but some Tonganoxie residents are determined to prove, with a little effort, it is possible.
People in the United States recycle 50 percent of all paper, 45 percent of all aluminum cans, and 34 percent of all plastic bottles. Efforts are being made in Tonganoxie to keep up with these numbers. Many of the efforts are coming from students, through educators.
"Teachers are trying to teach kids the importance of recycling," said Earleta Morey, head of Sort, Organize & Recycle in Tonganoxie.
One such person is Phil Loomis, who teaches environmental biology at Tonganoxie High School. This year his students decided recycling was the environmental issue most important to them. Students then went to work to do something about it.
"It is really nice the way it came about," Loomis said. "They (the students) were the instruments to get this started."
- There are green recycling Dumpsters for paper at many of the schools in Tonganoxie.
- Sort, Organize & Recycle at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds. It is open the second Saturday of each month from 8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (It will be open an alternate day in June because of Tonganoxie Days and will not be open in August because of the fair). The following items are collected: newspaper, telephone books, magazines, corrugated cardboard, chip board, paper, aluminum, tin cans and glass jars (without lids), plastic containers (that did not contain any oil-based foods and that have an opening smaller than the base). All containers should be cleaned. Drinking glasses, window glass and light bulbs are not accepted.
- In addition, Earleta Morey, SORT coordinator, is looking for volunteers for SORT in June and July. If you would like to volunteer, please contact her at (913) 369-2292 or (913) 845-2646.
The students partnered up and researched recycling possibilities. The class then chose four materials and set up recycling containers around the high school.
"There are tubs and buckets in all the classrooms," Loomis said. "The teachers have been very cooperative and encouraging."
Recycling containers for paper, cardboard, plastic and aluminum were set up three months ago. Students empty the containers two to three times a week. They then sort all the material and crush the cans. Since they started, students have collected six to eight large bags of plastic and 10 to 12 bags of crushed cans.
"They are a little mystified that there could be that much stuff," Loomis said. "It is kind of an eye opener to them, that this much has been used by students on campus."
The project doesn't stop with the classroom collection. The students also have to get the materials to recycling sites. The paper is placed in the green Abitibi recycling bins on campus, plastic bottles are taken to the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds, cardboard is taken to B&J Country Mart, and the aluminum cans are taken to Lawrence.
"It is positive to see good coming from something like this," Loomis said.
Loomis said this project was positive for everyone involved. It proves that with a little effort, recycling is possible in this area, he said.
"The more we recycle, the better our environment is going to be," Morey said. "If they (community members) want to get started, they can just start saving stuff and take it to the recycling center once a month."
Recycling is an option Tonganoxie residents should consider. "It is just going to be better for all of us." Morey said.
-- Jess Skinner is a Kansas University journalism student. Her work will appear in The Mirror this semester
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