Recycling nothing new to some central peninsula residents

Do it again

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2002

The owner of River City Books, along with several other businesses, is doing her part to help the environment.

Peggy Mullen and other concerned citizens started helping businesses and area residents recycle before the Kenai Peninsula Borough started an active recycling program and before the start of Kenai Peninsula Green Star, a nonprofit program formed to help organizations reduce waste, prevent pollution and promote energy efficiency.

The borough began an active recycling program in 1989. Green Star was established by the Kenai, North Peninsula and Soldotna chambers of commerce in 1994.

Before that, Mullen would join other volunteers behind the Borough Building, where Lynden Transport set up a recycling container that it took to Anchorage at no charge.

Volunteers would work in minus-20-degree weather, moving glass, cans and aluminum, Mullen said.

"Every day we had people straightening up the mess," she said.

After the recycling programs started on the peninsula, Mullen continued to promote recycling at her bookstore and at the other businesses in her family's building, the Cornerstone Marketplace, at the Soldotna "Y," where the Sterling and Kenai Spur highways meet.

"Everyone is encouraged to recycle," Mullen said.

She has the businesses in her family's building recycling office paper, aluminum cans, tin cans, cardboard, newspaper and plastic milk jugs.

It is a lot of sorting, she said.

The cooks at Charlotte's, a cafe joined to the bookstore, have to take time to rinse things out, Mullen said.

She hauls the recyclable materials from her store and the others to the dump herself, all but the cardboard, which she pays Peninsula Sanitation to recycle.

Not only does Mullen recycle, she buys recycled goods.

"You don't complete the circle until you buy the recycled stuff," she said.

She buys recycled paper towels, toilet paper and printer paper for her business.

Before the borough started its program, there was no recycling program on the peninsula.

Mullen said the committed people would drive to Anchorage to recycle.

"It is worth it to do the right thing," she said about helping the environment.

Mullen is not a member of Green Star's program but has been recycling for about 15 years.

Green Star helps organizations get involved in recycling and earn a Green Star Award.

Receiving the award shows the organization met at least 12 of the standards and can show that a positive environmental change has occurred in its daily operations.

These requirements include conducting a waste-reduction assessment, conserving paper, purchasing recycled products, implementing energy-saving changes, as well as recycling and reusing materials.

There are 24 Green Star recipients -- out of 6,800 businesses currently registered for sales tax collection with the borough.

Green Star's goal is that 5 percent of the total weight of materials deposited in borough waste facilities be recycled, said Cathy Mayer, secretary-treasure for Green Star and borough solid waste director.

It has been difficult to reach the 5 percent, she said. Now, it is at about 4 percent.

"It's a convenience thing," Mayer said. People do not feel like segregating their recyclable materials.

"It's unfortunate," she said. "We could definitely use an increase in participation."

"It's easy to adhere with the standards. It is a simple change in habits."

Habits such as using both sides of paper or turning off the lights, she said.

On the peninsula people have to take the extra step, she said.

However, after the Green Star program started, she saw a definite impact with businesses joining in the campaign.

"Many that didn't recycle and probably wouldn't have started to," she said.

The reason some businesses don't is because they do not have the materials that fall into the categories the borough is able to recycle.

Materials collected include newspaper, office paper, cardboard, glass and aluminum. Additionally, clear plastic milk jugs, gillnet fish web, tin cans, appliances, junk vehicles, phone books, used oil, vehicle batteries and Christmas trees are recycled at various times and locations.

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