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Reduce, Reuse and Bring Recycling to Town

Feb 08, 2011

Rebecca Dilla, an Ambassador in Pennsylvania, was tired of driving to another county to drop of her family’s recycling. When she decided to begin work on her Gold Award, the lack of recycling facilities in her township seemed like the perfect problem to tackle. But where to begin?

“I ended up emailing a lot, after calling a bigger county next to us where we would go to recycle, and they pointed us in the right direction of my county recycling center,” she said.

It turned out that her county did recycle, but only in the more heavily populated areas. Rebecca decided she would bring a recyling bin to her community in the Conemaugh Township – a rural area at the northern edge of Somerset County, Pennsylvania. With persistence Rebecca was able to get in touch with the people she needed to approve her idea.

“You have to keep pushing,” she said. “It’s not going to get done on its own.”

Once she got in touch with the right people, big things started to happen. “I had plans for how to raise money to buy the recycling bin, but the Somerset County commissioner ended up sponsoring it so I didn’t need funding,” said Rebecca.

She did need somewhere to put the bin, which is about the size of a small garden shed, and that presented the biggest challenge. The county recycling center agreed to pick up the recyclables collected by Rebecca’s bin, but only if it was placed close to the highway.

After weeks of searching, Rebecca was frustrated. “I was actually really, really overwhelmed,” she said. “There are times when you wonder why you are even doing this, and then you have to refocus.”

And that is what she did. Rebecca had originally wanted to put the recycling bin at the Municipal Building in her township, but the recycling center thought it was too far from the highway. She went back to them and presented her case for why this was the best location. They agreed, and the project was able to move forward.

She was also able to get signs donated that explain what can be put into the bin, and she put together presentations about the importance of recycling that she gave to younger kids. It was a lot of work, but according to Rebecca, “you only have to start. Once you start you have it. Once you take the first step, the second step is easier.”

The steps she took resulted in her Gold Award, but Rebecca’s interest in the environment has also benefitted from her work on this project. She will attend college in the Fall and hopes to major in Environmental Sciences.