In May 8-14 issue By Nathalie Rosado Times Journal Intern
JAMESTOWN - "We never knew it would be this big."
"When I put these figures together, I was very surprised," said Roger Garner, the facility engineering manager who has worked at Fruit of the Loom for 27 years and was shocked when he saw the results of their recycling efforts.
On January 1, 2008, Fruit of the Loom in Jamestown made a commitment to recycle anything and everything they could.
"We had previously recycled scrap cloth, metal, and cardboard for about 6 to 8 years, but this year, we made it a goal to recycle anything from copy paper to plastic bottles," said Garner.
In March 2008, the project really kicked off, and the company began to recycle aluminum cans, copy paper, magazines, newspapers, plastic bottles, paper yarn cones, and plastic stretch film.
Since then, 400 pounds of plastic bottles and 50,440 pounds of paper yarn cones have been recycled, and 116 pounds of cans have been donated to Habitat for Humanity.
Although recycling takes time and extra effort, Garner believes it's for a good cause. "It's labor intensive, but if we can keep (trash) out of the landfill, it's worth it."
Dale Halliwell, the plant manager at Fruit of the Loom agrees. "It's just the right thing to do for everyone. By making it part of everyone's job here at Fruit, we've all become more aware of the environment and how our personal choices affect it," he said.
Many companies have recently decided to go green, such as Walmart, but Halliwell said that Fruit has been recycling for a long time.
"We have recycled simple items for many years, but this year we chose to include a wide variety of smaller items. Walmart appreciates vendors who recycle, but there are no mandates requiring it. We chose to follow continuous improvement, which is part of our process. One of our goals is to improve substantially every year, and by recycling, we're on our way to reaching it," he said.
Although most products are sent to the Somerset and Russell County Recycling Centers, some are donated to charities.
Besides the aluminum cans donated to Habitat for Humanity, Fruit of the Loom also donates soda can pull tabs to the Ronald McDonald house and ink cartridges, toners, and ink jets to Russell Springs Elementary.
"Aluminum cans retail at $0.70 a pound, and our donations to Habitat for Humanity really make a difference," said Garner.
Although it takes time to make recycling a habit, Halliwell said awareness is the first step. "You have to be committed to spend the extra time and effort because it's not going to go away. Recycling is only going to get bigger and more intense in the future," he said.
Now, four months after their big commitment, Fruit is really starting to see the results.
"Some people have even started asking if they can bring things from home," said Garner, and agreed that employees have gotten very involved.
Halliwell admitted that he didn't realize the volume of the materials that all the employees had helped recycle. "And we just got started," he said. Rita Johnson, the administrative assistant at Fruit of the Loom, said she thinks it's an excellent plan.
"Anything we do to be good stewards of the earth the Lord gave us is a good thing," she said.
Just like Halliwell and Garner, Johnson said that there is definitely a greater awareness among employees and their families.
"The recycling commitment here at Fruit has had a positive impact in the recycling habits we have at home," she said, speaking of how she now hesitates before throwing anything away.
She did say, however, that at home it was a little harder. "Here at Fruit, we've made it as convenient as possible. At home it's not as easy, since the recycling center has a distant location and inconvenient hours of service for people who work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m."
At Fruit, Johnson said she is known as the "green police." She has made various signs and labels so that people will be more aware of recycling. "I make sure everything gets disposed of correctly, and we're really starting to see an impact."
Just as Fruit of the Loom has done, Johnson hopes that other companies will follow through with recycling.
"Companies have the potential of being great corporate citizens, since they are large employers and have a diverse variety of materials that are recyclable. They also have the power to reach out to their employees, and I hope that many companies here in the county will use that to their advantage and help save the Earth we live in."
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
P.O. Box 190
120 Wilson St.
Russell Springs KY 42642
Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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