FORT LEE, Va. (Jan. 17, 2013) -- The winners of a 2012 post-wide recycling contest were recognized Monday during a brief ceremony attended by U.S. Army Garrison Fort Lee Commander Col. Rodney D. Edge, Command Sgt. Maj. Sheila R. Nelson, garrison CSM, and other important guests.

Maj. Gerri Fletcher, commander of Veterinary Services for Joint Base Langley-Eustis, accepted the brand new golden recycling bin award on behalf of the animal-treatment facility here. Also featuring a ring of multicolor jewels around the rim and base, the glitzy travelling trophy is "a fun way to recognize those agencies that contribute the most to the installation's recycling goals," according to Cindy Rood, the Environmental Management Office Solid Waste Program manager here.

In November, Rood said, the EMO team conducted a trash survey to determine how well Fort Lee agencies were supporting the recycle program. "Basically, we went dumpster diving to see how much stuff wound up in the trash can instead of the recycle bin. We checked 180 buildings and our average diversion rate was 51 percent, which means we still have a lot of work to do in the recycling arena."

The Fort Lee Veterinary Clinic was singled out as the agency with the least amount of recyclable products winding up in its trash cans. Staff Sgt. Kelly Caneen, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the facility, said it's an accomplishment that she's proud of because they did it as a group "just because they knew it was the right thing to do." None of them were even aware of the contest until they saw the EMO team digging through their trash and asked what it was all about.

"I guess we've always recognized the importance," she said. "We're all about saving the animals so we figured why not save the earth too?"

A good recycling program requires a team effort, Caneen continued. Her coworkers aren't afraid to speak up if someone tosses a bottle or can in the trash. "After a while, it (recycling) becomes a habit because you know people are watching," she said. "In our case, we were soon asking for additional recycling bins, so we kind of knew we were on the right track."

Rood nodded in approval. One of the biggest problems with recycling, she said, is not being aware of the importance of the program or limiting one's efforts to paper products.

"That's our biggest hurdle here … making folks understand that it includes glass, aluminum cans and plastic drinking bottles," she said. "We can do a lot to encourage each other to recycle more at work and at home. Every effort is important because it can save vast amounts of money and resources.

"At Fort Lee, we also need to consider the Army's goal of Net Zero (by 2030)," she said. "In this case, it means 100 percent of the products we use here are either repurposed or recycled when they are no longer needed. None of it is going to landfills or polluting our environment. That's a big goal but, as we've seen here today, we can get there with the right amount of dedicated effort."

Page last updated Thu January 17th, 2013 at 00:00