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(US MS) Recyling, a great need, starts in homes January 15, 2006 7:27 PM


1/14/2006 11:37:18 PM
Daily Journal


Have you ever thought about how much trash each person in your family produces on a daily basis? An average of four pounds. If my math is correct (and you may want to check it), that's 1,460 pounds of trash per person, per year! I don't even want to think about how much we generate as a nation.

That's why we, as a community, should be applauding a group called Sustainable Tupelo. They are asking the city to consider curbside recycling, making it easier for residents to do their part for the environment.

Most of us are environmentalists at heart. No, we don't chain ourselves to trees or block the path of bulldozers. But if you cringe at the sight of litter on the roads or feel a tug of guilt when you throw away an aluminum can, you are acknowledging there's a better way of doing things. And there is.

The Tupelo I have known and loved for 22 years is progressive enough to have a curbside recycling program. Not everyone will embrace it because it requires new habits - first and foremost, separating your trash. It also will require a minimal fee. Last time a cost analysis was done, the fee was about $1 per month. Currently, Sustainable Tupelo is conducting a feasibility study as well as a survey to help gauge public support. You may get a call, so please ask questions.

In the meantime, City Council President Dick Hill said he believes curbside recycling will begin in designated neighborhoods. He's hoping if there's success in smaller pockets of the city, then the program will eventually expand citywide. I'd really love to see that happen.

Where to begin?

So many of us have never recycled and may not know where to begin. I, too, am a newcomer. Growing up, every container, piece of paper and cereal box my family opened was thrown away. It wasn't until I was married that I began to realize how much trash one family generates in a given week. My husband taught me through the years that recycling doesn't have to be demanding and doesn't require a lot of household space.

So, until Tupelo's program makes its way into your neighborhood, I thought I'd share some simple steps my family takes to recycle trash:

Our empty aluminum cans are crushed and thrown into a large plastic bin in our carport. Eventually the cans will be hauled to a recycling business. You get money for aluminum cans, by the way.

The Daily Journals are stacked in a plastic clothes hamper sitting outside the carport door. When this becomes full, my husband takes the papers to his vet clinic, where they serve an additional function as liners for dog and cat cages (my apologies to reporters who've worked hard on their stories). The Humane Society could use your old newspapers, too.

Our plastic recyclables are tossed into a large trash can bin that sits in the corner of our driveway. But keep a couple of gallon milk jugs for convenient watering of indoor and patio plants. I learned that from my late father-in-law.

We also try to find new ways to use miscellaneous trash. A large grocery bag hangs in our laundry closet and is a catch-all for toilet paper and paper towel cardboard ends, empty egg cartons, plastic meat trays (washed, of course) and Gatorade instant mix containers. Your Sunday School classes or preschool programs are always working on projects. Check with the director to see if they'd like your donations.

Above our washer, we always keep a few coffee cans. Mark my word, somewhere along the way, you will need a coffee can for an Indian drum, a science project or to store all those loose nuts and bolts in your shed. Don't throw away coffee cans!

These simple steps have worked for us, and I know they would for you. By starting recycling efforts in our own homes, we will begin to change mindsets and opinions - one person, one family, one community at a time.

Mary Thomas is a community volunteer, active member of St. James Catholic Church, and a community columnist for the Daily Journal. She and her husband, Dr. Glenn Thomas, have three children. Her e-mail is


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