Read about Kelli Roemer’s efforts related to America Recycles Day:
Helena’s first snow two days before had caused the sidewalks to be quilted with patches of salt and ice. I would’ve loved to be a bystander watching this pitiful intern struggle under the weight of two large, black Hefty bags, dancing around slick patches of ice, and breaking every 20 steps for relief. I can only hope it gave someone a laugh they desperately needed. The five minute walk from the library to the office was quadrupled, but the time and sweat was not in vain. Sheltered by the warm lobby of the city-county building, I peeked into both of the Hefty bags. Each one brimmed with winter coats.
On October 15, the Lewis and Clark County Green Team kicked off their first-ever, month-long, winter coat drive in honor of America Recycles Day. November 15 of every year is a nationally recognized day dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle and buy recycled products. Thousands of events are held across the U.S. to raise awareness about the importance of recycling and to encourage Americans to pledge to recycle and buy products made from recycled materials. Every year, the Lewis and Clark County Green Team organizes an America Recycles Day event.
This year they organized a winter coat drive. This drive emphasized the importance of recycling our clothing, while benefiting two local organizations God’s Love and Good Samaritan, who will distribute the coats to those in need. The success of this drive has been overwhelming with an estimated 200 donated winter coats.
Prior to this drive, my vision of recycling was limited to cans, bottles, paper, and anything I rummage from the trash to attempt a little Pinterest wonder (although it never quite turns out). After this coat drive and a little research, I am now rudely aware of the environmental impact of our clothing’s production and disposal. The typical American discards approximately 70 pounds of clothing each year to landfills and nearly all of the textile and material is recyclable. Cotton, polyester, nylon, and rayon make up 5 percent of our landfills.
We can save valuable resources by recycling our clothing. By recycling 10 pounds of clothing we can prevent 35 pounds of CO2 gases from polluting the atmosphere, conserve 7,000 gallons of water, and avoid 3 pounds of fertilizer and 2 pounds of pesticides from being spread of fields that would be used to manufacture new fibers (visit http://www.planetaid.org/latest-news/just-one-bag ). Not to mention that recycling and donating clothing can help someone beat the tough Montana winters.
Undoubtedly, it is my pleasure to crumple beneath the weight of Hefty bags full of recycled winter coats. Happy America Recycles Day everyone!
Kelli Roemer graduated from the University of Montana in 2012 with a B.S. in Resource Conservation. She has worked in everything from the industrial barley fields to outdoor education in Glacier National Park. She is excited to gain professional experience and development with the Energy Corps program. Kelli will be working with Lewis and Clark County in Helena, MT. She will coordinate the L&C Green Team, the Citizen Conservation Board, assist with the implementation of the greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals for Helena, and educate the public about available energy and water audits in Lewis and Clark, Jefferson, and Broadwater Counties.