By Kevin StabinskyNovember 13, 2008
FORT MCPHERSON, Ga. -- Although the Army phased out the battle dress uniform in 2007, the Army is still going "green."
Like most Americans, on Saturday the Army will be celebrating America Recycles Day, a day instituted by the National Recycling Coalition to encourage recycling.
"We only have one earth," said Owen Nuttall, chief of the installation Base Realignment and Closure Environmental Office. "We have to take care of our natural resources."
Although the new culture fad is going green, the Army has been ahead of the curve, having mandated environmental policies since 1998, Nuttall explains. On Sept. 14, 1998, President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 13101: Greening the Government through Waste Prevention, Recycling and Federal Acquisition.
A key component of the order is mandating waste prevention and recycling in the agencies' daily operations. Agencies are to use disposal only as a last resort, resorting to recycling and reusing equipment. Waste that cannot be recycled must be treated in an environmentally safe manner, according to the order.
Besides being mandated by the government, recycling has also proven to be a best business practice for the Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem communities, Nuttall said. Recycling releases pressure off the government's budget. Less waste going into landfills equals less cost for Uncle Sam.
It also equals more money in the hands of the public.
Reusing materials already available prevents industry and businesses from having to accumulate raw resources. Thus, they can manufacture their goods at a cheaper cost, which leads to savings for the consumer, said Fred Jordan, environmental protection specialist, BRAC Environmental Office.
For example, more than 700 cell phones set for disposal were instead reallocated to charities that benefit deployed Soldiers, Jordan said, relieving the financial burden on Soldiers and their Families.
"The savings go back to the customer," Jordan said. "Even the smallest thing has an impact, an effect on everyone, including the economy."
Nuttall said during fiscal year 2007, 860 tons of waste, consisting of paper, cardboard, glass and metal, were recycled. These tons accounted for 17 percent of the waste generated on Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem. Still, the communities are looking to do better.
"We're aiming for 40 percent," Jordon said. "We've got to get the word out. Every Soldier, contractor and employee needs to get involved."
One avid supporter of the recycling program, Spc. Christina Kolodziej, a trumpeter with the Army Ground Forces band, said her desire is to reduce her environmental impact.
"It's our responsibility to the planet we live on to do what we can," said the Hamilton, N.J., native. "It's important to look for little ways to reduce our environmental impact."
Besides recycling, she also carpools to work and has convinced her spouse, Eric Kolodziej, to follow in her footsteps to reduce his carbon footprint.
Both Nuttall and Jordan hope others take advantage of the recycling programs available on both posts, including the family housing areas. Because recycling is handled at a brand new, state-of-the-art center, Camp Creek Parkway, Nuttall said families don't have to sort recyclables by type anymore; all recyclables can be placed in one bin. The center separates all items on site.
Employees living off post can also bring their recyclables onto post for drop off. There are two recycling center drop-off centers: Bldg. 344 on Fort McPherson and Bldg. 209 at Fort Gillem.
"Anyone is allowed to use the facility. We take anyone's recycling," said Nuttall, who practices what he preaches by bringing his recycling onto Fort Gillem.
Items not normally considered recyclable can also be recycled to an extent, Jordan said. The post's hobby shops can recycle used motor oil and anti-freeze, while the Hazardous Material Pharmacy can take paints and chemicals.
Jordan said the environmental agency staff can also help people properly recycle other items, such as small electronics. For more information, call 404-469-3570.