“It’s important to take one day a year to contemplate making a change in their life, whether small or large,” said Jacqueline Dost, executive director of Keep Carroll Beautiful. She worked with several local schools, businesses and organizations to arrange activities throughout the week.
Many of the easier activities in which people can participate have economic impact. Recycling an aluminum can is 95 percent cheaper than digging the materials out of the ground.
“We already have enough cans to make the cans we use every year,” Dost said.
The sale of aluminum cans by cities is usually used to fund curbside recycling programs. Plastic bottles can be used to make carpet, carpet backing or the padding. Dost said that because about 90 percent of the world’s carpets are made in Georgia, recycled bottles directly impact the state’s economy.
Changing light bulbs, switching to the energy saving bulbs can save home owners on their energy bills.
One of the most visible and best attended Earth Day events is the river clean-up. This year, more than 40 volunteers from different organizations in the county and some individuals, helped clean the between Highway 113 and the watershed.
“It’s a new area for them to clean up,” Dost said.
Other activities this week included celebrating Keep Carroll Beautiful’s sixth anniversary, a showing of “Wall-E,” and several beautification projects. Volunteers worked on the gardens at the front entrance of John Tanner State Park, and Dost said she plans to continue the work several times a year.
“We want it to look pretty and welcoming,” she said. “We hope to make it educational.”
Dogwood trees were planted around campus and students could participate in a hike at McIntosh Reserve, where AGL employees spent time cleaning up. On Wednesday, SCRAP Bin and Love Not Litter worked together to show people how to use recycled materials to make new things.
While students can be found outside gardening almost daily at Oak Grove Montessori School, on Earth Day it becomes a family event, said Laura Gayle McCord, head of the school.
“We’ve planted probably 20 flats of annuals, four trees and countless vegetables and herbs,” McCord said. “We compost everything, all the garden scraps to teach them sustainable gardening practices.”
She said the students’ previous experiences in the gardens have taught them about insects and worms.
“I saw them dig up worms today and they immediately want to take them to the vegetable garden,” McCord said.
She focuses on bringing attention to plants and animals that are native to Georgia. This week, eight bluebird houses were set up, most of the work done by the students. The students had to research what they needed to do to attract the bluebirds, make the houses and set them up in pairs that are 100 yards apart, McCord said.
“It was a student-driven project,” she said.
At Bowdon Elementary School, third-grade teacher Mark Crawford focuses on teaching his students to recycle and pick up litter everyday.
“They pick up trash while they’re out. I don’t even have to tell them anymore,” he said. “My kids have turned into little Earth rangers.”
About two-thirds of the students have started recycling in their homes.
On Earth Day, Crawford’s class buried several bags: one is a 100 percent compostable chip bag that should noticeably break down in 13 weeks, another is a biodegradable bag that should break down in 12 to 24 months. A regular plastic bag and a paper bag were also planted.
“In the fall, we’ll dig them up and they can see how they have degraded,” Crawford said.
He hopes his current class and his class next year will be able to dig up the bags together.
Students planted sunflower seeds around campus to provide beauty around campus and food for migrating birds that will travel through the area in the fall,.
Tanner Health System offered employees, volunteers and members of the medical staff the opportunity to purchase blueberry bushes for $5 each and hosted a Tanner Green Farmer’s Market at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton. For lunch, the Tanner Cafe featured organic foods, including organic chicken, sides and organic yogurt in a variety of flavors, said Tony Montcalm, spokesmen for Tanner Health System.
“The cornerstone of good corporate citizenship is being a good corporate neighbor, and that’s what we’re doing with Tanner Green,” said Loy Howard, president and CEO of Tanner Health System.
One of the Tanner Green programs involved donating the used plastic barrels from the system’s laundry to the Carroll County Master Gardeners, who turn them into rain barrels and sell them to fund projects for Keep Carroll Beautiful. The system also uses a 600-foot well at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton to irrigate the hospital’s grounds and provide water that’s used in the cooling towers of the facility’s air handling system.
“We are also holding regular training sessions with our staff that we teleconference to our facilities in Villa Rica and Bremen, so our employees won’t have to drive to enjoy them,” said Howard. “Through our community partnerships, we’ve offered educational sessions on everything from improving the gas mileage of a car to starting your own worm farm. With 2,400 employees and another almost 300 physicians, encouraging our staff to make going green part of their personal lives can have a tremendous impact.”
The classes at Carrollton Elementary School did individual activities, from painting plastic bottles from the recycling center to cleaning the flower boxes outside.
At Temple High School, the Science Club maintains recycling of plastic bottles and aluminum cans year round with bins located in each building. This year, the Science Club also sponsored a fundraiser selling Earth Day T-shirts. Science teachers encouraged students to wear bought or homemade Earth Day T-shirts on Earth Day.
At the beginning of May, Villa Rica will become the second city in Carroll County to offer curbside recycling.