Recycling Task Force bows out a winner
Green Fest Committee takes over
as general sponsor for fifth year
Shortly after the establishment of the residential curbside recycling program in mid-2012, the Boonsboro Recycling Task Force was phased out, as it had accomplished its primary mission of advocating for the establishment of recycling in the town of 3,300.
As a consequence, the Boonsboro Green Fest Committee has taken over from the Task Force as the general sponsor of the annual Green Fest.
Serving on the committee are: co-chairs Janeen Solberg and Barbara Wetzel, corresponding secretary Kathy Vesely, treasurer Laura Schnackenberg, and members Rosemary James, Amy Jones, Sean and Leslie Haardt, Frances Lynch, Dan Murphy, Brigitte Schmidt, and Rick Schulman, and county liaison Tony Drury.
Editor's Note: Task Force members in 2012 were Chair Rosemary James, Secretary Amy Jones and members Sean and Leslie Haardt, Frances Lynch, Brigitte Schmidt, Laura Schnackenberg, Janeen Solberg, Kathy Vesely and Barbara Wetzel. County liaison was Tony Drury. (Bold type indicates founding member)
The initial impetus which put the 10-member Task Force into motion was the loss of the residents' only means of recycling in the community -- a dumpster provided through a Washington County program. The town government had been forced to discontinue hosting the bin because the remote site was being used as a dumping ground for much more than recyclables.
The group's first goal was to work with the town to reinstate the county's recycling bin program by finding a suitable location for the dumpster. That was done in short order, however, it was a different story for the second goal -- a residential curbside recycling collection program for the 1,200 households in town.
Recycling returned - On Dec. 22, 2007, some four months after that first BRTF meeting, recycling was returned to Boonsboro, as the recycling dumpster was put into operation at a new, more visible site. Two years later, in November 2009, a second dumpster was added to help take care of the overflow at the very busy site near the intersection of Routes 40 and 67.
A common site at the recycling area before the second dumpster was added. Recycling increased more than 40 percent in 2010, the first full year the site operated with two bins.
To help ensure that the site would not be overrun again with refuse, the members of the BRTF offered to regularly monitor the dumpster site. The group kept its promise and a member visited the site each day for more than two years, until February 2010, when the town government took over monitoring duties on weekdays, with the Task Force checking the site on weekends.
Recycling increases but still no curbside - The recycling tonnage at the two dumpsters increased more than 40 percent in 2010, as the additional capacity encouraged more residents to use the facility on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the household waste going into the landfill did not decrease, as 1,200 tons of the town's waste ended up in the county's landfill west of Hagerstown. In 2010, the county charged a $50 tipping fee for each ton deposited in the landfill by a municipality. The fee was increased to $52 in 2011.
Curbside program starts - Almost five years after the Task Force had begun its advocacy efforts, the Town Council approved a curbside recycling program. During the five-year span, three Task Force members were elected to the Council.
On July 1, 2012, every-other-week recycling collections began, while twice-a-week trash collections were retained. It was hoped that the second year's program could include once-a-week collections for both recycling and trash.
Of the nine municipalities in the county, seven -- Hagerstown, Boonsboro, Williamsport, Smithsburg, Clear Spring, Keedysville, and Hancock -- have curbside programs.(Washington County provides no curbside recycling services anywhere in the county; households outside of the municipalities are serviced by private haulers only.)
Washington County provides drop-off recycling services at the 40-West Landfill, at staffed transfer stations, but discontinued unstaffed bins, such as the ones that were in Boonsboro, coincidentally, at the same time Boonsboro's curbside program began in July 2012. Residents, who do not live within municipalities offering curbside service, must contract individually with haulers to collect their recycling or take it to the staffed drop-off sites which charge a $35 annual fee to recycle.
Legacy of Outreach & Education
Survey - In late 2007, a door-to-door survey
(Click here to view the survey) was conducted by Task Force members to determine who and how residents were recycling at the time and how many would be interested in the town's starting a curbside recycling program. Of the nearly 500 households surveyed, more than 86 percent were in favor of adding curbside services. The town, however, has not as yet initiated a curbside program. The town's sanitation contract, however, will go out for bids this spring and hopes are high that curbside recycling will be added to the solid waste pickup schedule.
Other community programs
While the BRTF pushed for more recycling services in the town and beyond, members became involved in other educational and outreach programs to improve the community:
Green Fest - Planning began in early 2009 for the first Boonsboro Green Fest. The day before Mother's Day -- the second Saturday in May -- was selected and members began to work on attracting exhibitors, sponsors and food vendors, and on promoting the event throughout the region. The event was so successful, with 84 vendors and thousands of attendees, that the committee immediately vowed to make it an annual affair. The Task Force acted as the Green Fest's general sponsor the first four years; the Green Fest Committee took over that moniker for the May 11, 2013 event.
Education - Environmental Clubs were started at both Boonsboro High School (March 2008) and Middle School (September 2008). The Middle School club has grown to more than 30 members and has continued to be active in a variety of projects.
Green Cleaning - A demonstration on how to make eco-friendly cleaning products was presented by BRTF founding chairperson Janeen Solberg to groups throughout the community.
Information - A recycling how-to information sheet (Click here to view the how-to sheet) was produced by the BRTF and distributed throughout the community and mailed with the residents' town utility bills in 2008. A refrigerator magnet detailing what and where to recycle was also distributed.The Task Force produced a flyer listing a wide variety of recyclables being collected by various agencies, groups and individuals throughout the county. Many items are collected each year at the Green Fest's drive-thru, drop-off site.
Special events recycling - BRTF members have collected recyclables during most all of the major events since 2008 in the town's Shafer Park. Initially, the recycling containers were borrowed from a neighboring municipality for each event. The Task Force, however, felt that the town should have its own containers so they would be more accessible. The Mayor and Council agreed and the 15 new containers were debuted at the first annual Green Fest. More containers and other equipment and supplies have been purchased by the Green Fest Committee.
The special event containers have been used to collect recyclable bottles and cans during all of the major events at the park, at the South Mountain Little League baseball fields on Monroe Road throughout the baseball season and at other special events. The Town buys the special collection bags and the Task Force members set up, monitor and collect the recyclables to be placed in the recycling dumpsters at the Park-n-Ride, next to Thompson Gas. Hundreds of extra-large, see-through bags have been filled with recyclables that otherwise would have ended up in the county landfill.
TREASURES IN 'THEM THAR' LOCKERS - Task Force members Rosemary James (left) and Kathy Vesely sort the contents of the Boonsboro High School lockers during one of the locker clean-outs Kathy initiated at the high school. Hundreds of notebooks, paper, pencils, books and a myriad of other reusable materials have been saved from being dumped in the county landfill. The recovered supplies are then made available to students at no cost. The founder of the school's Environmental Club, Kathy is also served a term as the chair of the Washington County Solid Waste Advisory Committee, which reported to the County Commissioners. A group of students, earning their Student Service Learning (SSL) hours, collects recyclables each week from the classrooms.
Report - To let the community know about its goals and accomplishments, the BRTF produced a report (Click here to view the report) of its first year's activities and made a presentation to the Boonsboro Mayor & Council in September 2008.
LANDFILL TOUR - The Task Force sponsored an eye-opening tour of the Washington County 40 West Landfill in the fall of 2008. County Recycling Coordinator Harvey Hoch (left) led the tour. Harvey retired from his "day job" in early 2010, but he remained an active member of both the BRTF and the Green Fest Committee through 2012. Committee members have also toured the Montgomery County recycling processing center in Rockville.
Members reach out to help community - Members of the Task Force are very busy with families, work, and other civic, school and religious activities. And the enthusiasm to treat Mother Earth kindly carries over into the community. One of many examples occurred when member Brigitte Schmidt initiated a soccer equipment and clothing swap (see photo below) during the start of the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) season in September 2009. More than 30 players were outfitted with gently used cleats and 20 players received soccer balls, while several others received shinguards, socks and shorts. A sports equipment swap joined the clothing swap at the Green Fest in 2011.
SOCCER SWAP - The BRTF and the local youth soccer organization teamed up to sponsor a soccer equipment and clothing swap during two Saturdays in September 2009. Showing off some of the gently used items are (from left) Brigitte Schmidt, a BRTF founding member and originator of the swap, Keith Juedemann, regional commissioner for AYSO, and Paul Kadin, assistant regional commissioner.
BRTF meeting topics varied - The Task Force played host to a wide variety of resource people discussing many topics of interest to the community. Topics have included recycling, solar energy systems, safe food preparation for large gatherings, advantages of purchasing produce from a certified organic farm and how to reduce your carbon footprint. In addition, members and guests have viewed the movie "Trashed" (http://trashedmovie.com/trailer.html) during a special movie night.