Oct
16
2019
Yellow Springs
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overcast clouds
humidity: 81%
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H 47 • L 47
Village Life
Vickie Hennessy is spearheading a volunteer pilot program to take difficult-to-recycle No. 5 plastic from areas around the village to recycling centers that will take it. (Photo by Lauren “Chuck” Shows)

Vickie Hennessy is spearheading a volunteer pilot program to take difficult-to-recycle No. 5 plastic from areas around the village to recycling centers that will take it. (Photo by Lauren “Chuck” Shows)

Villager to take plastics for a ride—Recycling program slated

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If you’ve ever lamented the amount of recyclable plastics that end up in your trash every week, take heart: One of Yellow Springs’ own is coming to the rescue.

Next month, villager Vickie Hennessy will begin collecting #5 plastics at various sites around the village, to be taken to an out-of-town recycling facility. #5 plastic, or polypropylene, is used to make things like yogurt cups, hummus tubs, margarine and cottage cheese containers and some medicine bottles and take-out containers. These items are not currently accepted by Rumpke’s residential recycling program, which only accepts bottle-shaped plastics.

Hennessy, a former biology professor and former president of the Green Environmental Coalition, said via phone this week that the idea was sparked when she visited a nearby Whole Foods, which accepts #5 plastics as part of its “Gimme 5” program. The plastics are collected by Preserve, a company that makes and sells toothbrushes, razors and other household items from the collected plastics. Knowing the recycling limitations in the village, Hennessy decided to volunteer to collect recyclables for her neighbors and deliver them to Whole Foods.

There was just one hitch: “It turns out that the Whole Foods near us cannot accept a very large amount,” said Hennessy. “They can maybe handle one garbage bag on a trip.”

So Hennessy scrapped the idea — or rather, she recycled it, once she made a trip to Bellefontaine over the summer. She visited the recycling facility there with fellow villager Sue Pfeiffer, who has written a few letters for the News’ Community Forum page about the facility and its robust recycling programs. 

“I saw the operation,” said Hennessy, “and it’s impressive. And they accept all types of plastics.”

Believing that there’s a need and a desire in the village to recycle more plastics, Hennessy decided that she’d collect the items and ferry them to Bellefontaine herself, aided by her trusty Ford pick-up truck. 

On March 1, villagers will see blue garbage cans at the Bryan Center, the library, the Wellness Center lobby and the Kiss and Hug Car and Pet Wash on Xenia Avenue. Clean #5 plastics may be placed there, and when the bins are full, Hennessy will transport them to Agraria, which has given her permission to store the items there until she has a full load to transport.

Hennessy considers the effort to be a pilot program, which she intends to run for four months. 

“At the end of June, I’ll put a survey out to the community to get a feel for how many people actually participated, whether they’d like it to continue or [if they’d] be willing to volunteer,” she said. “Just see where it goes.”

Hennessy will also be tracking her own data as she collects around the village. She intends to measure which sites are most used and the mileage and expense of making the trips — Bellefontaine is around 40 miles from the village. She’ll also have to decide whether she feels that the benefits gained by recycling the material will outweigh the negative impact of expending extra fossil fuel. Ultimately, she’s hoping to discover whether or not this is something she can do long-term, whether she can expand into transporting all types of recyclable plastics — and whether she can drum up community support.

“I don’t know how often I’ll have to make the trip,” she said, “but filling the back of a pick-up truck full would save lots of individual trips. I think if enough people actually volunteered some time, this wouldn’t be a big time drain.”

Hennessy said she hopes that the Village might, some day, take up the mantle for this effort. But “some day” is too nebulous for her — and she thinks she’ll enjoy it, at least for the time being.

“I like driving around and going places!” she said. “And there’s such a need for it, I feel. I know Sue [Pfeiffer] has joined the Environmental Coalition so she can work on improving recycling — but I guess I’m an impatient person. I want to make something happen now.”

For more information, or to volunteer to aid the effort, reach out to Hennessy at vichennessy1951@gmail.com.

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