In an effort to promote the importance of recycling within the local community, and to and for future generations of Chillicotheans, a trio of area businesses and organizations have teamed up with schools across Chillicothe to incorporate more environmentally-friendly alternatives to trashing unwanted items.

The process began this month, with talks between Chillicothe Municipal Utilities and the students at Dewey, Field, and Bishop Hogan schools (grades 3 and below), regarding the importance of recycling. Large recycling bins were donated to each school within the R-2 district, and to Bishop Hogan, for the purpose of disposing plastic bottles and metal cans, as well as paper refuse.

"[They're] multipurpose," said Steve Franke, of Chillicothe Development Corporation, the group which provided the monetary funds to purchase the bins, as well as smaller, individual classroom recylcing bins for each classroom in Chillicothe's sprawling school system. "There are bins in each school. You have them in all of the classrooms."

Franke got the idea for the project after conversing with a family in Kansas City, and noticing that the city is much more recycle-oriented than Chillicothe. He decided he wanted to change that.

The students were made aware of recycling via assemblies, and, in an effort to avoid their paper byproducts being transported to area landfills, where they would sit for years, they began reusing and donating the chartaceous items to Chillicothe's Hope Haven, along with the plastic and metal items no longer in use.

CMU brought in the containers of both sizes, and provided the transportation of paper products to Hope Haven.

"We would like to make people in the community aware of recycling," said Troy Figg, CMU refuse director. "We take between 50 and 70 tons of recylcing a month to Hope Haven. We want to increase that."

"Last fall, we discovered that a large percentage of people in our community do not recycle," Franke said. "We're trying to get it started at the school and get the project some publicity, in hopes that more and more people will recycle."

Franke said that he hopes that students will bring their recycling habits home with them from the schools, thus having their parents and extended family members recycle, as well — an expansion of the current format.

"Hopefully, we can create future recyclers," added Field School Principal Philip Pohren, one of two school building administrators (along with Bishop Hogan's Pam Brobst) who has worked closely with Franke on the formation of the project.

"It's more of a program of modeling. We're hoping to set a standard to where [the students will] do the same as adults. Hopefully, [their parents will] come into the buildings and see that it's something that's important to us, and do the same."

"I'm glad that they're getting on board to recycle," said Chillicothe Hope Haven manager Carole Hobbs. "And, [the project] helps our employees."

On top of helping the environment, Chillicothe's students are also assisting Hope Haven through their efforts. The increase in recycled goods will mean an increase in income for the facility, which provides working positions to those with disabilities. To bring things around full-circle, Hope Haven will also be selling similar recycled goods collection containers (bins) to those used within the schools. Initial pricings from CMU had the bins at $5, apiece; however, Hobbs said that the official price wouldn't be set until the Hope Haven board meets this Thursday (Sept. 27). This, though, will increase revenue for the group, as well.

"I think we've got 100 containers out here, so depending upon what we charge for them, that will be kind of where we're at," she said. In terms of recycled goods, "what we do is we collect the material, and then we process it and we sell it. That's the money that we get. We have to pay a landfill fee, but we get the money for all that we process."

"It's good for the environment and good for the community," Franke said.

To further jumpstart the recycling efforts within the local schools, Franke and his company, Midwest Glove and Gear, "have offered money to the school district for incentives" towards prizes in future recycling contests. He noted on Monday morning that the actual use of these moneys was "up to the district," though.

"They talked a little bit about trying to set up a competition," Pohren said on Tuesday. "We haven't quite figured out yet how to make that competition equitable. Instead of doing a competition where, say, a class or building earns $500 for recycling the most, we'd like to do a competition that will benefit the community; use those moneys to generate more ideas, more recycling containers, so the money stays with the recycling. Let's use that money to benefit all of the schools — to give all of the schools tubs, and to buy posters.

"We haven't had that conversation with Mr. Franke yet," he said. "We appreciate the community coming forth and helping our kids grow. We've also had a good relationship with Hope Haven. They are willing to come get our recyclables. It's a program that can keep going forward."

"I think it's really going well," Hobbs said. "We've been working with the high school, and with some of the grade schools. They do a really good job."

"The ultimate goal is to see Chillicothe as more of a recycling community," said Pohren.