In honor of Earth Day, Leigh Ann Yaskulka decided to bring her sons to the Hall County Recycling Center to show them where their recyclables go after they are picked up from the curb.
“We’ve been recycling at home for at least the last 10 years,” said Yaskulka, a Gainesville resident.
“They’ve started asking questions like what the numbers on the bottom of (plastic containers) mean, so I thought today would be a good one to come out and find the answers.”
Together, Yaskulka and sons Roman, 7, and Evan, 4, toured the center on Chestnut Street and found out all sorts of interesting facts.
“I didn’t know that glass was made from sand,” Roman said.
The tour of the facility was one of several local Earth Day activities and was led by Rick Foote, Hall County’s natural resources coordinator.
The concept of Earth Day was conceived by Gaylord Nelson, at the time a U.S. senator. The original concept was to use the day as a way to bring awareness about the importance of protecting the environment. The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, and has continued to be celebrated on that date.
While interest is up because this year marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, overall recycling rates have declined, Foote says.
Because consumers have less money to spend, there are fewer materials available for recycling.
“Waste, and recycling for that matter, are good indicators of the strength of the economy,” Foote said.
“The price (per ton of recyclable materials) have been down since the economy became depressed. Materials are (earning) around $150 per ton now — the highest I’ve ever seen is around $200 per ton. The historic lows were around $25 per ton in 2008.”
When the construction of new homes and structures slowed down significantly with the downturn of the economy, that greatly impacted the recyclables market, Foote said.
Materials like plastic bottles and corrugated cardboard boxes are recycled into building supplies like drywall, pipes and carpeting. When the demand for those finished products decreased, so did the demand for the raw materials.
While the demand for some materials may declined, Foote says that it is still important to keep reusable materials out of landfills.
“Not all products that contain recycled materials are labeled that way,” Foote said.
“For instance, office paper can be recycled into toilet paper and paper towels, but not all paper products have the recycled label. Most cars, car batteries and steel (products) have some recycled content.”
Other area Earth Day activities included a panel discussion entitled “Happiness, beauty, faith, economics and ecology.” The discussion was held at the First Baptist Church in Gainesville.