Local group spreads word about recycling

Published 12:01 am Sunday, December 2, 2012

Concordia Metals employees Dayton Davis and Carlton Jones help unload material from local residents for recycling. The company in VIdalia recycles various materials, including plastic bottles, milk jugs and paper.

A recycling program is on the horizon for Adams County, and with that comes the need for local organizations to make sure people know the importance of filling bins across the area.

The Green Alliance is a non-profit organization that has pushed for community recycling, and Director Jim Smith said it is time for his group to spread the word not only about the benefits of recycling but just how easy it can be.

“We want to start gearing up toward more education and marketing to make sure the curbside recycling program is a success,” Smith said. “Anytime recycling starts up in an area, there is always a process of education, and that’s going to be our role going forward.”

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To do that, the Green Alliance, which was founded by Steve McNerney and his wife Mary Jo four years ago, must attempt to change the mindset of a lot of people, Smith said.

“We have to change people’s underlying thought process on trash,” he said. “People get the idea of, ‘Why should I go through the trouble to separate trash into bins?’

“It’s important for our kids and our kids’ kids. Three-hundred years from now we want the Earth to be here for these kids.”

The Green Alliance started modestly, but the McNerneys laid the foundation for what the organization is able to do now, Smith said.

“It’s taken that long to get us to where we are now,” he said. “They started thinking about how we could get recycling going and were working on it for four years. They had a ton of ideas, but never had all the things come together at once.”

Smith said that opportunity has presented itself now, with the City of Natchez’s new trash contract allowing 1,700 households to participate in a curbside recycling pilot program at no cost to the city.

The Green Alliance hopes to make sure those first 1,700 households are the beginning of something much bigger, Smith said.

“We hope to have the full city and most of the county doing curbside pickup,” he said. “And then we want to make it regional and include Jefferson County, Franklin County and Wilkinson County. Our long-term goal is to have the whole Miss-Lou.”

Currently members of the community who participate in recycling must personally bring their items to Concordia Metal locations in Natchez or Vidalia.

Smith hopes that more people will continue to participate in the drop-off program, and he also hopes to expand other programs across the area, he said.

“The Green Alliance is trying to go beyond curbside,” he said. “We want people to have it at work and at school. The (Environmental Protection Agency) has a slogan, ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.’

“It’s not all about recycling. When you go into the grocery store, it’s better to buy the gallon jugs of water than the individual bottles. Most people don’t know how their purchases impact the environment.”

A variety of things that can be recycled outside of paper, plastic and metal, and Smith said educating people on all the things they can bring — even old computers and used Christmas lights — is part of the battle.

The Green Alliance will discuss its plan of action for education and marketing at its Dec. 13 meeting. The meeting will be at 4 p.m. at the Historic Natchez Foundation, and Smith hopes prospective members will attend, he said. Smith estimates that the organization has approximately 25 members currently.

“We plan to come up with a slogan and start formulating the key messages to start the campaign in January,” Smith said.

The recycling pilot program is scheduled to begin in June, and Smith said his organization will hit the neighborhoods to ensure that it is a success.

“We will coordinate an effort to go into those neighborhoods (that are selected), and we hope to get tons of people involved,” he said.

The hopes of a new city-wide recycling program have Smith thinking about the Green Alliance’s founders and just how far the group has come, he said.

“They did a tremendous job for years getting it started and fighting an up-hill battle,” he said. “They are the reason it’s gotten to this point.”

The Green Alliance is a sub-group of the Community Alliance.