August 5, 2011

Recycling is a great way for people to lessen their impact on the environment, but not every county has an active recycling program. When members of Muhlenberg County’s family and consumer sciences extension council reviewed their county’s needs, they realized recycling was one area where they could make a positive, lasting impact.

“The council saw all the waste and knew other communities were recycling and knew this was something that we could do too,” said Laura Holt, Muhlenberg County family and consumer sciences agent with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

The county’s Extension Homemakers had partnered with the local school system for more than 10 years to recycle phone books, and many Homemakers quickly became involved.

A group from Extension partnered with city and county government officials, the county road department and board of education to form the Muhlenberg Green Recycling Team.

The team received a grant from the Felix E. Martin, Jr. Foundation to get recycling bins at each of the county’s five garbage sites. Individuals can recycle paper and certain plastic products at these facilities. Those bins were installed in December 2010.

“When the bins were first put in place, many of them only had to be emptied weekly and one was emptied monthly. We know recycling has definitely picked up in the community since then, because those bins are now being emptied two to three times per week,” Holt said.

Through a second grant from the Martin Foundation, the team recently purchased three recycling bins for the county’s high school, one middle school and one elementary school, as well as recycling containers for classrooms at those schools. The team is also providing a monetary incentive for each school to develop and implement a recycling program. The team’s goal is to eventually have recycling at all county schools.

All recyclables are taken to the Muhlenberg County Opportunity Center, which provides vocational evaluation and training to adults with disabilities. Center employees sort and sell the recyclables to area contractors, with the proceeds going toward the center’s programming. So far, they’ve grossed more than $16,000 from recycling.