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Conservation Corner: 2011, a year in review

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 This is the third writing of the Energy Advisory Panel’s “Year in Review.” The days and months and years sure race by, don’t they? You work on something and then something else, a project here, continuing other programs, finally getting something completed, in place and working and getting something new started. The reason for this Conservation Corner is to review what the Energy Advisory Panel (EAP) has managed to accomplish and to evaluate if our efforts have affected positive change with regards to energy awareness, conservation and sustainability. You be the judge.

Recycling Results

Last year the citizens, businesses and visitors to our islands diverted approximately 620,000 pounds of materials from going to the landfill. About 420,000 pounds was bottles, cardboard etc. and does include our school’s recycle tonnage. Another 200,000 pounds was yard waste. So what does a 620,000 pound pile of recycle material look like? Here are some visuals.  It would be 26 tractor trailer loads or a pile that is 8 foot high by 8 foot wide by 1225 feet long, stretching from the corner of Route 24 and 2nd Street to the basket ball court in the city park. This pile or stretch of recycle material represents a capture rate of 30% which is good but can be improved upon. We only have 702 residents.  With over 300 rental units and 20-odd restaurants on our little island (which is to say that on any given weekend there can be more visitors than locals), the challenge is to make our visitors aware of our recycle program. The lodging establishments have done a very good job of implementing their recycle programs, so cheers to them.

Arts and Seafood Festivals

Students volunteered to monitor the recycle/trash sites at the festivals. The kids did a great job of it. Prior to that, even though there were well marked recycle and trash bins available, trash and recyclables got all mixed up and ended up being sent to the landfill. The comments from festival goers about our student’s efforts were all positive except one man that was extremely grumpy.  We plan to have a manned recycling center again at the Spring Arts Festival, so come down and see this successful program at work.

Ongoing Education

The EAP bought several hundred of the green and white recycle stickers that you see throughout the island which allowed garbage containers to be converted into recycling containers. We have also contacted most of the businesses to educate and encourage them to participate or improve upon their recycle efforts. About 65% of the businesses currently do recycle.

Seafood Festival Parade

The EAP’s entry for the annual parade won two first place awards. Both the float and dance troop were spectacular.  But, even better than winning the prizes was watching the kids participate and showing their enthusiastic support for our community’s conservation efforts.

Conservation Corner

We have managed to produce a Conservation Corner twice a month for the past 12 months. We hope that you find them informative.

Weatherization Program

The Weatherization Assistance Program continues to be promoted by the EAP. This program helps economically challenged homeowners to weatherize their homes and save energy and money every month. Talking to some of the 50 families that have signed-up and qualified for this program, it is certain that these efforts are worth it.

School

Thanks to Sue Ice, staff and students, there are several programs that the Cedar Key School has worked with us to implement.

A school-wide recycling program was begun during the 2009-2010 school year and the daily success of this program has filled many a recycling trailer since then.  The program is successful because a recycle bin accompanies all trash containers and the cafeteria staff diligently recycles what they can.

We have implemented an Environmental Scholarship Program based on the number of points accumulated by a student doing environmental activities.  A scholarship of $1000 will be award each year for the next four years.

For the second year, our school has won the Florida DEP’s America Recycles Day Pledge Contest.  This contest not only gives our school the distinction of collecting the greatest ratio of recycling pledges per student but also allows our school to receive state recognition from the DEP and win a computer for the school.  Very impressive when you realize that our school competed with the likes of other Florida schools with 1000+ students.  

As you return to Cedar Key, we hope you took notice of the new Adopt-A-Highway sign at the #4 bridge that designates our school as a new member of this program. Participation in this program encourages students not to litter. From the comments of the students that have participated so far, the program works.  Thanks to the Cedar Key Pirates for partnering with us to make this program possible.

The EAP also initiated the grant process so that our school could participate in the LIFE  (Learning In Florida’s Environment) Program which teaches environmental science in various outdoor settings with the assistance of the Florida DEP. Studies show that this is an excellent way to teach our children how all life is connected. Our thanks to the Suwannee River Water Management District who provided the $5,000 matching grant.

We want to thank all of the households and businesses and of course our school for participating in the recycle program.  Without all of our combined efforts there could be no progress in energy awareness, conservation and sustainability. 

 

Tom Deverin