Girl Scout Virginia Worrell feels everyone’s best chance at helping clean up the environment is about beginning with the “little switches.” Her effort is part of a bid for the Girl Scout Gold Award.
The Gold Award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouting and is open only to girls in high school. It recognizes girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through “Take Action” projects which have a sustainable impact in their communities and beyond.
Worrell designed signs with recycling symbols and information to increase the profile of the Recycling Center’s collection bins. Landfill Manager Allen Lawson and staff built the bases, uprights and sign mounts.
“The bottom of the signs are made from outdoor chairs. We just took the chair itself. It came right out of the metal pile. We used the base and then we used some other scrap metal as the uprights. The wood came from our scrap wood pile as well. So, it’s ninety-nine percent re-purposed other than the new bolts we purchased,” said Lawson. “We were so happy to work with Virginia. Recycling is something nowadays everybody is interested in. Now, as you can see we had some labeling on the (recycling) boxes but as people pulled up through the gate it is now easier for them to see what goes in each box. She’s done a good job. People can stop where they need to and get closest to the box. It’s going to help.”
Worrell is in Troop 1077, the only senior group in Carroll County. The environment-based idea was simple for her because of her interest in studying marine biology and in community service.
“When I was faced with the decision of what to do for my Gold Award, I wanted it to be recycling or plastic focused. I knew they needed more signs here. It’s something that can be a part of the hours that I do for my Gold Award. I have to do 80 total hours – something which will help the community. This is a part of that,” Worrell said.
She said the task of designing the signs turned out to be much easier than she had first feared. Lawson said the sign for the plastics bin even contains recycling numbers which is info not posted at the site before.
“I just got on to (Microsoft) Word and I had a simple idea of what I wanted to do. So I just experimented. All of these pictures I found on Google. I did had to cut up the triangles (for recycling symbols one through seven). That was one picture I had to cut up three different ways,” Worrell said.
Worrell said this is just half of her Gold Award-based plan. She plans to go around to elementary schools at the beginning of the year to talk with fourth and fifth graders about recycling. She said recycling has taken on a new urgency with reports of a huge mass of plastic in the Pacific.
“All the plastic we have ever used is still here. Think about it. Every plastic toothbrush, hair brush. All of the simple things which are still around. I’ve switched to a bamboo toothbrush now. I always carry my re-usable water bottle. Just very simple switches make a difference. Straws are another big one. Americans use 500 million plastic straws a day. It’s used for a few minutes and then tossed away. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of Texas. Three times the size of France. There are 20,000 plastic water bottles used every second,” said Worrell.
She said plastic in landfills can collect rain water and form a leachate which can get into ground water if not treated correctly. The Regional Landfill recycles aluminum, newspapers, plastic, glass and cardboard. Plastic bags can be turned in at retailers such as Food Lion and WalMart to be recycled.
Lawson said a sign by the firm Tra Col tells citizens “anything with a cord or a battery” can be left on a special trailer at the Recycling Center.
“I’ve been here 23 years and the amount of people using these has dramatically increased. These bins were sitting like this here when I came and use has definitely increased,” Lawson said. He said the Landfill is required by the Department of Environmental Quality to recycle 15 percent of the tonnage which comes into the landfill – ultimately extending the life of the landfill and decreasing costs for tax payers.
“It gives me hope when I hear stuff like that. There are people making a change,” Worrell said.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.