Category Archives: Sustainability

Living in the Ozarks

Contemplating life in the Ozarks.

Contemplating life in the Ozarks.

The picture of me on my blog banner is overlooking the Buffalo River.  For the past 5 years, I’ve been trekking to northern Arkansas to assist my sister and brother-in-law in their woodsy lifestyle.  They built their own farm and live off-the-grid on solar, collecting their water from rain off the roof, and feeding the plants from year-round spring water.

I moved to the midwest from Hawai’i.  My soul is connected there.  But the Ozarks have captured my heart and ignited my imagination to live as sustainably as possible.  I retired from St. Louis Community College where this blog tells the story of all the projects we engaged in as a family to raise awareness about recycling, greened our office practices conserving paper, and gathered to explore ways to synchronize our curriculum with nature through sustainable practices.

I plan to continue this blog about green spaces from my new home in Arkansas.  I moved here over the holiday break between semesters. I feel blessed to teach online classes in psychology for the college as an retired adjunct professor from my cabin in the woods.  Teaching has been a passion for decades.  Here in retirement, I want to branch out and teach beyond my academic training.  Writing is teaching–if not the reader, then me penning thoughts to page (or bytes to virtual space).

Dad visiting the "hoop" green house on my sister's Springfed Farm.

Dad visiting the “hoop” green house on my sister’s Springfed Farm.

Snowman and Red Bird on Mauna Kea

Prof K’s “Snowman and Red Bird on Mauna Kea” pillow

I am learning about organic farming, raising trout, building energy-efficient structures, and about nature all around me abundant with life even in the dark and quiet of winter.

 

I have my first quilt commission from my pal and patron, screenwriter and director Rich Krevolin. I’m piecing a throw-sized quilt from 40 silk ties. I’m excited to collaborate and fill my studio with creative energy. The snowman pillow is Hollywood Prof K (Krevolin) checking out the observatories atop Mauna Kea.

As soon as I sell my home in Florissant, MO, I plan to break ground on my energy-efficient home. Until I get that project underway, I am cozy in my studio/garage.  I like living more simply out of 2 rooms–I’ve dubbed one room my Prius‘s bedroom. I’m exploring nano-architecture. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle melding style and function; like living on a boat where every space has more than one purpose.  My “lofty” space on top of my built-in storage is guest bed, reading corner and couch when company drop by!

Lofty couch atop of built-in storage unit.

Lofty couch atop of built-in storage unit.

 

STLCC Shines in RecycleMania

During winter 2012, St. Louis Community College (STLCC) got busy with RecycleMania at all 4 campuses and 3 education centers. Each campus created their own plan to raise awareness for recycling efforts.  Meramec got busy with “Waste-less Wednesdays”  handing out drink coupons for “Getting Caught Green-Handed.”  Cosand Center, Wildwood and Meramec did “exchanges” with clothing, books and “new to you” household and garden items.  Electronic recycling was a new category to RecycleMania this year. Meramec added e-waste to their participation. Wildwood also collected electronics for Earth Month but not during the challenge.  Motown music inspired the Cosand Center Green Team’s first Recycling Fashion Show where employees hooted and laughed over outfits made from paper and recyclable items.

Cindy Green "Hawaiian-Style"

It was an amazing Earth Month full of many celebrations, including the Second Annual Recycling Extravaganza at Forest Park campus in collaboration with St. Louis Earth Day, and a Household Hazardous Waste collection at Florissant Valley Campus .

The BIG RESULTS for the district were that even though TRASH increased by 1847.5 lbs, recycled paper also rose by 3079.5 lbs; bottles by 2758 lbs; and newly collected compost added 5111 lbs so that the district diverted 10,948.5 lbs MORE from the landfill than in 2011.  This is a savings for the college because our trash contract costs 2.5 times more than our recycling contract.  Recycling truly SAVES both the college pocketbook as well as the planet. 

Though our challenge was informal, the STLCC campus Benchmarking winners were:

  • The STLCC Gorilla Winner went to Meramec campus for collecting 41,810 lbs of recyclables (Flo Valley at 29,456; Forest Park at 28,991; and Cosand Center at 13,996 lbs). Tiny Wildwood collected 25,499 lbs. More on them in the Competition Category below.
  • The STLCC Per Capita Winner went to the Cosand Center where employees collected 52.42 lbs of recycling per person!!! (Flo Valley at 5.45; Forest Park at 4.70; and Meramec at 5.25 lbs/person).
  • The STLCC Waste Minimization Winner went to Meramec where their recycling + trash were 9.72 lbs/person (Cosand Center at 75.74 lbs; and Flo Valley at 13.79 lbs/person). In this category, the lower number signifies better trash management.
  • The STLCC Grand Champion went to the Cosand Center at 69.39% recycling rate (Forest Park at 44.28% and Flo Valley at 39.49%).

Huge cheers for Wildwood because they decided to compete this year in a crowd of 605 nation-wide schools.  Here are their rankings:

  • Gorilla Prize—247th place—no surprise—Wildwood is tiny compared to the big 4 year schools;
  • Per Capita—56th place—amazing—in this category their efforts connected with their campus size;
  • Bottles and Cans—43rd place—even more exciting—targeted materials were a strength;
  • Grand Champion—20th place—remember this category measures strong recycling and reducing trash;
  • Paper—8th place—AWESOME—targeted material ranked Wildwood a giant!

Next year I hope each campus competes rather than benchmarks.  If tiny Wildwood with 1,144 students and staff can, we all can.  If Meramec had been competing, their electronic collection of 47,851 lbs. would have ranked them 6th in the nation!!!

Another important thing I learned by participating this year was not to do it alone.  Each campus collaborated with ideas for activities.  At our regional level, 18 colleges and universities of the St. Louis Regional Higher Education Sustainability Consortium (HESC) joined together to share their program ideas to raise awareness within and beyond their campuses.  More than just one school’s success, HESC hopes to shift the waste management culture by being shining examples for businesses and municipalities.  Together in 2011, we created a regional impact by diverting 883.15 tons from the landfill.  We are still crunching our results for 2012. Talk about educating sustainably!

Wildwood Book Exchange

If I could get across one message– be more aware of consuming. The most important R stands for Reduce.  Ask “do I really need this?” If you say yes, see if you can get it by borrowing, renting or buying used–the second R–Reuse.  At the end of that item’s life-cycle, certainly get it into the recycling stream for repurposing. This whole process reflects the 4th R–Rethink!!

Each campus is a pebble and together our effect can reach a region. Just like Earth Day is every day, waste awareness is every day as well.

Growing fish and sprouts

Baseball field repurposed for a garden

How many champions does it take to grow a community garden?  Of course it takes more than one focused passionate leader, but at Florissant Valley campus, Dr. Mark Manteuffel is a light to spark growth.  He leads the community garden effort for not only his campus, but his project is the pilot to inspire the other campuses.  A project of this magnitude and responsibility can better address cost and labor when it is infused into curriculum.  Students lend their time, curiosity and solutions at each step. 

Flo Valley Students Interact with Food Sources

Green Teams at each campus expressed desires to have a community garden, especially Meramec with its Horticulture program and Forest Park with its Hospitality program.  One key obstacle for each team was where to place that garden and who would maintain it.  When the district reduced athletic teams and a baseball field became obsolete, Florissant Valley faculty jumped on where their garden could be.  With the help of the groundskeepers, the field was plowed twice and is resting for early spring when deep beds will be shaped.  These beds, composed of organic soil, allow for easy deep root penetration for nutrients and require less watering.

Garden sustainability dimensions feature teaching about local food production as a lab, not just lecture.  As food is grown locally, it has more nutrition.  Crops are fresh without preservatives to maintain shelf-live while they take their long journey from a mega farm to the grocery store.  The strategy to teach about organic farming allows for students and the community to learn about carbon-saving aspects as well as health benefits.  The short trip to the store means less carbon emissions (fuel = carbon), a goal that Florissant Valley’s president, Dr. Marcia Pfeiffer, committed to reducing when she signed the ACUPCC (college presidents climate commitment).

I think one of the coolest parts of this project includes aquaculture.  Two fish tanks were assembled with the help of engineering faculty and students.  Fish waste is very nutritious.  It will be used as part of the nutrients for the garden.  Laura Stevens, Auxiliary Manager, is working with our kitchen composting efforts so that food scraps

Aquaponic fishies arrive

 can also feed the garden’s soil structure.  Flo Valley students can look for a new collection system in the cafe’ allowing for student food scraps as well.

 

Jessica Sippy, Sociology faculty at Forest Park campus, has studied organic farming techniques at Earth Dance (Mueller Farm).  She recently attended a conference for organic farming strategies.  I hope to soon connect Jessica and Mark to share best practices with our college community.  Next, my scheme is to include Rob Hertel in Hospitality at Forest Park and Paul Roberts in Horticulture at Meramec and Mark Weber at Wildwood who assists the Eco-Art festival.  Each of these champions can lend creative directions for the garden.  Garden Landscaping, Art sculptures and a teaching gazebo, and of course edible landscape.

“We planted 150 seeds to sprout!  We got the fish in!  We got the greenhouse rockin’!” said Mark after this last week’s efforts.  We are at the genesis of this pilot.  Inspiration abounds, but the design is surely in the details, and Mark needs our help.  Weekly planning, planting and sharing are underway.  If you are inspired to witness this project grow, you can contact Mark at mmanteuffel@stlcc.edu.  Be a seed.

Saving Sustainability at St. Louis Community College

Spring 2012 semester gallops forward and I am just catching my breath to write.  Twenty students signed up to take my morphed Think Tank capstone featuring greenhouse gas inventory training.  I am teaching this class with Rene Dulle, former Meramec student and intern for the Greenhouse Gas Inventory for the City of St. Louis.  Our students seem jazzed about climate issues and the training that can translate to green career value.

RecycleMania has begun across the district with the Green Team Elves planning “Waste-less Wednesdays” programs like a clothing exchange at Meramec and “Trash Tally” surprise audits and a Recycling Fashion Show  at Cosand Center.  Later in the semester, the college will again offer electronic recycling at no fee.  On Saturday, March 31, 2012, Meramec campus and Midwest Recycling Center will collaborate again with Hands On Kirkwood to collect electronics and appliances.  On Sunday April 22, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., the college joins with St. Louis Earth Day and 15 recycling vendors for the second annual St. Louis Earth Day Recycling Extravaganza held at the Forest Park campus (http://www.stlouisearthday.org/2011/12/earth-day-recycling-extravaganza/).  Start saving your hard-to-recycle items now!

My goal this semester is to keep wonderful programs and alliances in place that raise awareness about waste and recycling.  More than that, I want to leave a legacy when my 3 year position as sustainability coordinator ends this summer.  This past 3 years has shown the region that St Louis Community College (STLCC) is serious and committed to sustainability by advancing green career pathways, infusing systemic thinking into curriculum and greening operations through energy efficiencies, carbon mitigation and reduced paper use.  Fellow schools in the St. Louis Regional Higher Education Sustainability Consortium look to the college as a role-model as we have paved the way in innovation and leadership.

To sustain sustainability at the college, I am working to create a strategic plan that colleagues and campus leadership can follow should the college not be able to create a sustainability position past this 3 year pilot.  On Friday January 27, 2012, campus leaders gathered for a “Conversation for Sustainability.” Twenty leaders across the 4 campuses and Cosand, including Presidents Marcia Pfeiffer of Florissant Valley campus and Pam McIntyre of Wildwood campus. I presented a very brief overview of our successes and raised trigger questions to address the challenges ahead(www.stlcc.edu/green/presentations). Everyone generated fantastic strategies and I am synthesizing them into a hopefully “living” document–one that grows and shows sustainability as a journey.  My next blog will develop this work and it is my hope that readers who were not present will add their ideas as well.

Climate Change Skeptics

St. Louis Community College  has 2 presidents who have signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).  They felt taking steps to reduce carbon and other Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) was a worthy endeavor.  Dr. Pfeiffer at Florissant Valley campus, and now President Wasson at Meramec, are leading the way for the college and our area communities to measure carbon and develop strategies to lower their footprints.  I created a capstone class for the college this spring 2012 that will teach how to measure GHGs in the context of environmental issues that humans are facing due to climate change.

What most skeptics of climate change seems to believe is that the science is doubtful.  They question the scientific process that leads scientists to the conclusions drawn from their data.  They accuse scientists of an agenda to deceive and create panic. It seems completely inconceivable that there is a mass conspiracy among scientists from across the globe where data is being collected from climatologists, oceanographers, biologists, planetary physicists, astrophysicists, atmospheric chemists, paleoclimatologists, glacialogists, and meteorologists to name a few.  Could the agenda be competition for grants?  Do all these scientists own stock in oil and coal companies? Are they all in the pocket of powerful politicians?

I recently faced a nay-sayer in my capacity as the chair of an environmental commission.  I wanted to address skepticism in a way that would be convincing yet not demean the skeptics’ worldview.  Being a person of science (albeit the “soft” science of psychology), I know that scientific methodology can have flaws and be manipulated. Perception is fundamental.  Context for information is essential.  It IS important to question how data is collected. In fact, that is the hallmark of scientific methodology.  Denial is a perspective, but putting one’s head in the sand will not lead to the truth.  And truth is the core value of science.

I found a lecture on “Answering Climate Skeptics” given by History Professor Naomi Oreskes at the University of California-San Diego.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXyTpY0NCp0. In this hour-long talk, she addressed how climate research findings went from accepted science  in the 1970s to a political playing card today.  I felt angry like I do after watching a Michael Moore expose’.  How could loud, strategically placed protests gain momentum to erode belief in science established across multiple countries?  If Professor Oreskes uncovered a story of deceit tantamount to the tobacco companies coverup of health risks in order to make money, then once again, we must expose this manipulation of belief.

Mayor Schneider of the City of Florissant joined 1109 other mayors across the nation because he believed we as a City and nation need to address climate change and reduce our carbon footprint.  As I assist my leaders at the college and City to move past nay-sayers, I will search to find common ground for action that makes sense (both economically and environmentally) because I truly believe we share one planet and that actions here at home do indeed have impact on our neighbors.  At the December 2011 climate talks in Durban, South Africa, even China and India agreed it was time to join its neighbors and act for the health of its citizens.

Robert Kennedy Jr. made the point at a talk he gave while here in St. Louis that even those who protest the loudest about climate change hoax want their children to breathe easily, be able to swim and fish in clean waters, and have energy that comes from renewable sources.  My goal is to find common ground for action.

Sharing Best Practices

HESC luncheon at Meramec campus

Nine area colleges and universities from the bi-state converged at St. Louis Community College-Meramec on November 29, 2011 to learn more about waste management strategies and to consider and fight for best practices leading up to 2012 RecycleMania from January to March. The St. Louis Regional Higher Education Sustainability Consortium (HESC) invited representatives from Waste Management, Aspen, and Midwest Recycling Center to share their strategies for handling trash, recycling, composting and electronics.  Jeff Macko at St. Louis University (SLU) has negotiated a way to measure their RecycleMania trash and recycling by having Waste Management run their campuses like a wee city–taking the full trucks back for weights.  This works for SLU because of their size.  It is understandably costly to run a truck for one small campus back to the scales, then out again to area businesses.  So another best practice was negotiated with Aspen by Peggy Lauer, Director of Sustainability at Maryville University.  Aspen offers scales on each truck that can capture a weight at each bin and tally those weights onto their invoice.  This practice of tying weights to payment assures Maryville getting their measurement in a timely fashion.

Getting accurate weights was one big frustration by participating schools last year.  At STLCC, I had to calculate volume-to-weights because my recycling hauler does not have the equipment to provide actual pounds.  Another snafoo that occured for my measurements came from my trash hauler who summed our trash with 5 other companies.  That week’s measurement was 5 time larger than the week before!  I called to ask if we were being combined with an anvil company.  What I learned keenly is that participating in RecycleMania is a journey–there is yet no exact science yet in the trash biz.  What I also learned is despite not having true numbers, we are BILLED as if there are true numbers.  As a consortium, we with our numbers, want this to change.

Linda Adams from Solid Waste Management District urges schools to apply for grants

Midwest Recycling Center (featured in many earlier blogs) shared about the collaboration with STLCC to collect 232,767 lbs at no cost to the college and community because of grant support from the St. Louis-Jefferson County Solid Waste Management District (SWMD).  Linda Adams, from the SWMD, urged the HESC schools to follow suit to get supporting monies to make their recycling programs happen. Steve Fishman from the regional EPA urged our consortium schools to sign up for Waste Wise program focuing on composting.

I felt proud to have STLCC host this important regional event. Acting Vice President of Academics, Dr. Vernon Kays, gave a warm welcome and honored our work gathering to share best practices.

Acting Vice President for Academics at Meramec, Dr. Vernon Kays, welcomes the consortium member schools

Our next HESC luncheon will be in January at Maryville University where the discussing and sharing will focus on Green Purchasing.

Harrison Center Collects Unusual Electronics

HEC adds to district electronics collection

On a crisp October 29th 2011, William J. Harrison Center (HEC) in collaboration with Midwest Recycling Center (MRC) collected a respectable 3500 pounds of electronics and appliances.  This event was our seventh and last for the St Louis Community College, pushing our total district amount to 228, 767 lbs diverted from the landfill! All of the electronics and appliances STLCC collected escaped our region’s one landfill, and saved the college over $2000.00– our fee for inhouse CRT (lead glass in monitors) recycling.

HEC’s manager, Kimberley Porter, and green team, led by Alandrea Stewart, came out to volunteer their valuable time for their first ever recycling event for the community.  Being a LEED-Goldfacility, recycling is part of the daily operations for students, faculty and staff. All the volunteers stayed warm laughing and telling stories while watching the really unusal items brought in by the community.

HEC volunteers
Here are a few oddities that caught our attention:

Officer Watson peers into the world's tiniest dishwasher

Oldtime TV!

Peep warmer (it had a cord!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Louis County Health Department is kicking off their “Recycling Becomes Me” campaign today, November 15th for America Recycles Day.  This clever campaign grabs attention as people “wear” recycling bins in various fashions–all meant to raise awareness and increase recycling efforts. The program shows that folks from all lifestyles recycle.  The County Health Department’s goal is to increase recycling by only 5 percent this coming year.  Just that small amount can fill the Edward Jones Dome 3 feet high 25 times!  And though St. Louis County has done a great job recycling, we still throw away enough to fill a quarter million dump trucks!  According to John Haasis, Program Manager for the St. Louis County Department of Health, “if each household in the county recycles just one extra aluminum can each week, that’s the equivalent of taking 720 cars off the road in a year. Imagine how much gasoline that saves from being used!” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Oct 24, 2011).   Show your own creativity by posting your “becomes me” photo at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RecyclingBecomesMe  And if you are in the Clayton area today (Nov 15th) join the fun as they kick off this attention-grabbing program!

Recycling becomes STLCC–what about you?

AASHE Conference Inspires Florissant Valley Student

 

Evelyn Parker at AASHE Conference

Education outside the classroom can open new horizons.  For Evelyn Parker, Florissant Valley Communication major, education about sustainability crossed the country to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) conference.  Student Development funds from Dr. Pfeiffer, FV President, helped pay Evelyn’s way.  Yesterday, Evelyn presented her experience via powerpoint to the Flo Valley Green Team.  I was quite taken by what struck her as inspirational because I was attending different workshops on strategic planning, transportation, carbon footprinting and “trashformation.”  Evelyn was inspired by the key note speakers, workshop presenters, but more, by the whole experience of this much sharing of ideas and passion in the realm of sustainability.  Her powerpoint will be posted at www.stlcc.edu/green/presentations soon.

We ate local food in compostable containers in the spacious, daylit LEED Platinum convention center.  Attendees morphed organically attracted to their own school colleagues sharing away from the demands of work, and flowed out to absorb the ideas and best practices from around the nation and other countries.  AASHE conferences are by all means nourishing and over-stimulating.  The conference even had a “quiet” meditation room to integrate ideas from a full 3 days.

Webster U, Maryville U and STLCC share sustainability passions

In the evenings, pods from the regional Higher Education Sustainability Consortium (HESC) met for dinner and debriefed the day, sharing what they were taking back to their schools for action.  Cruising around the town where I went to graduate school was a blast from the past.  I visited my former campus to find Duquesne University had greened itself quite well.  They had co-generation for heating building and great signage sharing other green building features. 

One of the key insights I brought back came from Leith Sharp (former sustainability director from Harvard)–just DO something, even if only on a small-scale.  She reminded me to never forget the core value that there is URGENT global action needed, and to act gutsier.  Look out STLCC–gutsy is my plan for my last 6 months in this sustainability role!

Community Collaboration is the Key

A well-oiled MRC team--ready to take electronics DOWN

STLCC is truly taking trash DOWN!  At present, we are well over 200,000 lbs collected and diverted from the landfill. I am humbled by the momentum of these electronic collection numbers.  Last Saturday at the Meramec campus, over 800 cars rolled through the two well-oiled lanes of Midwest Recycling guys unloading 3 cars at a time.  No one waited more than a minute or two.  And even during that short time, participants were pleasantly greeted by guys who love what they are doing for a living.  Several members of the public have emailed me to praise how the event was managed.  Not only were folks able to recycle electronics for FREE, they didn’t have to wait to do the right thing and responsibly divert dusty, some toxic, items from their homes and offices.

There has been such a win-win on these events.  More than saving folks in the community money and protecting Ma Earth, there is a true element of social justice operating.  Next week will show this justice clearly at our last event at the William J. Harrison Education Center in underserved north city. Two key just developments are ongoing in the Jeffvanderlou neighborhood: a brand new LEED-Gold campus of St Louis Community College, and dozens of LEED-Platinum homes built by Habitat for Humanity and the owners.  Research shows these shining examples of green architecture INSPIRE occupants to dream big.  Not only do these buildings save energy–money that can be reallocated into educational goals–but residents are healthier.

International studies from India show that urban poor are more than motivated to recycle given the opportunity and means to do so (Wahid Murad & Chamhuri Siwar, 2007). In fact, community co-ops find a living wage re-using and re-manufacturing waste, but need policy to protect them from commodies pimps who force labor at horrid health consequences. “It is no exaggeration to say that, throughout the world, the poorest people are forced to live in, on, and from the waste produced by the rest of us” (Leonard, 2010).  Education remains a key for resource management and way to improve quality of life in underserved areas.

This whole quest to collaborate with the community on these recycling events began with one elderly man trying to dispose of 3 televisions and not having the $45.00 to do so.  He left dejected and unserved with his TVs. Tony Krieg (MRC Co-Owner) and I could only wonder what would happen to those units.  Hopefully they ended up at Goodwill who still accepts TVs without charge.  But what if they ended up by a stream all because of fees? We knew that to really succeed, we needed the help of the surrounding communities to get the word out.  And that is exactly how these events have grown and succeeded. Many are faced with economic challenges, but none more so than those without employment and living below the poverty line.  The grand idea was to help across the board–financially for those monetarily challenged; environmentally for those with too much STUFF; and socially for those who live with trash as a part of their landscape.

Kudos to Mayor Richard Detweiller who got the word out to his staff and community; to Hands On Kirkwood, a consortium of churches volunteering their labor of love and time; to Dr. Emily Neal and her Meramec Green Team (including Toni Oplt in Community Relations); the Kirkwood Community Newspaper; and Kristen Cornett at KMOV Ch 4 TV who all got the word out to bring in a guestimated 85,000 lbs of electronic and appliances.  And of course to Tony and MRC–together we all have made a true difference.

The conspiring duo, Peggy Moody and Tony Krieg

References

Leonard, A. (2010). The Story of Stuff. Retrieved on 24 Oct 11 from storyofstuff.org/bottledwater/what-you-can…/demand-fair-recycling/

Wahid, M. & Chamhuri, S. (2007, Feb.). Waste Management Resources, Vol. 25, 1: pp. 3-13.

Let’s talk TRASH–diversion, I mean.

MRC tech assessing value

St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley’s electronic collection was the 3rd of 7 recycling events.  Saturday October 1st was the quintessential fall day–cool morning temperatures, a light breeze, cloudless blue sky and warm sun.  Working with Midwest Recycling crew, I admitted to Tony Krieg, co-owner, that I had “collection anxiety.”  This was our 4th year together at Flo Valley.  For the past 3 years, the Environmental Quality Commission in the City of Florissant organized the electronic recycling events at Flo Valley.  The first year we collected 37,000 lbs of electronics and appliances.  The second year, the numbers dropped to 17,000 and the 3rd year to only 10,000 lbs.  I couldn’t understand why the numbers dropped–was it poor signage?  Not enough advertising? Was it procrastination? “Oh, I’ll just catch the next event.”

So this time I engaged community relations and all my green team leaders to reach out.  We decided to do 7 events for those procrastinators to catch up.  And indeed this year my “collection anxiety” has been soothed by all the awesome participation on the part of college employees, students and community neighbors.

I decided to challenge each campus to out-do the others.  Cosand Center collected 5737 lbs on a rainy day.  The second event at Forest Park collected 10,030 lbs!  Yahoo!  I’m still waiting on the numbers for Flo Valley, but know they will be high!  It took 4 large box trucks to take all they collected to their warehouse where they sort, count, weigh, and send off to the appropriate final processing places like Doe Run who process the toxic materials in the cathode ray tubes (CRTs).  Other materials are locally processed too.  Steal is processed a short 3 miles from the warehouse in Crystal City to Farmington; plastic is processed in Quincy, Illinois, and the various metals like copper are processed through a broker in Illinois as well.  For those really unique odd-ball items, his crew singles out and posts them on Ebay.  Tony said they have shipped these treasures all over the US and even to Russia!

Diversion is the main goal of any recycling.  It is important to keep this waste out of the landfill and away from leaching into our water table. Even more important is to get the toxic lead, zinc, mercury processed here in the US rather than shipping to Asia where materials are burned to extract gold and copper resulting in horrid lung and cancer health problems.

Call me Retro, but I am most interested in reusing.  When items can be rebuilt and put back into use, no new materials are needed to create it.  No mining.  No mixing of petroleum to form plastic casings. There is something COOL about styles of an earlier time.

STLCC Student Maddison Crooke stands with Wildwood Mayor Tim Woerther.

This past weekend, Wildwood campus was busy too.  They collaborated with Cintas and the City of Wildwood to collect and shred 30,000 lbs (15 tons) of paper and some plastic! Tiny Wildwood is a diversion giant, and next they are taking down electronics.

This weekend, Sept 8th, South County Center will have its first collection on Meramec Bottoms Rd off Rt 55 south.  And if you are one of those procrastinators out there, help keep my “collection anxiety” at bay by pitching in at Wildwood on the 15th, or Meramec on the 22nd or lastly at Harrison Center in north city on Oct 29th.  Let’s keep taking trash!