News and Tribune

Floyd County

May 18, 2014

Saving Mother Earth: New Albany festival educates, entertains

Save Our Earth festival focuses on recycling, sustainability

NEW ALBANY — While children were entertained by a fun-spirited presentation of exotic animals, adults learned about “intelligent” recycling.

The  second annual Save our Earth festival near the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater on Saturday was not only family-friendly, it delivered a serious message of preserving the planet.

During the festival, Trash Force, Inc. board member Dave Isaacs was behind a large booth that offered information on virtually everything to know about recycling in Floyd County.

Isaacs explained to those who stopped at his booth which recyclables are better taken to a retailer, such as WalMart or Lowe’s Home Improvement, or a recycling center than placed in a residential recycling bin.

Isaacs said it is worth it to him to take time out of his weekend to educate the public because he wants to keep the Earth beautiful for future generations.

“I believe we are going through our resources too fast. We are going to run out of resources, eventually,” he said. “I may not be around to see it, but my kids and their kids will.”

Other attractions at the festival included the New Albany-Floyd County Animal Control and Shelter, which brought along a playful group of four-legged friends.

Amazon John drew a big crowd with his “Silly Safari” presentation, which included a hawk, a 2-year-old alligator and other creatures rarely seen up close.

A member of River Sweep, a group sponsored by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, was at the event promoting an upcoming anti-litter event.

River Sweep will meet June 21 to collect trash from the banks of the Ohio River.

Harold Mitchell, Louisville, offered another popular booth that featured self-described “items made of junk.”

Mitchell’s items were no garbage, but instead, both artwork and skillfully mechanized toys. Mitchell uses materials that are often thrown away to create functional devices, such as small vending machines and remote-controlled battle robots.

Using common batteries for power, Mitchell makes functional treasures out of trash.

“This is a self-thinking Listerine-bottle robot,” Mitchell said to describe a coin sorter he created using discarded plastics and cardboard, before he inserted coins into the machine which distributed the money into separate compartments.

Mitchell, 48, said trash became his medium as child and that he loves to share his passion of fusing trash and ingenuity with the community at public events, like the Save our Earth festival.

The festival is a community-minded event held by Trash Force, Inc., which was established nearly 15 years ago by Mary Ann and Don Sodrel, New Albany, before recycling in the area was mandated.

“To keep stuff out of the landfill was our very first mission, ever, but it has expanded to do sustainability and education,” said Mary Ann Sodrel. “We started out by building knowledge of what recycling was, back before people did any recycling to speak of.”

She said Trash Force, Inc. received a lot of notoriety in the 1990s when it would hold recycling-collection events in Sam Peden Community Park.

“We collected over five million pounds of recycling in the seven, eight years we did it,” Sodrel said. “Then the [Floyd County Solid Waste Management District] came into being, and we went out of business, which is what we wanted.”

Even though recycling is now regimented in the county, Sodrel said there is still an need for Trash Force, Inc.

“We need more people believing in recycling and our mission, so they will recycle and be responsible for the trash and garbage that comes out of their homes,” Sodrel said.

Sodrel said it is hard for her to understand why more people are not committed to recycling when Floyd County officials have offered a pick-up service in parts of the county and groups like Trash Force, Inc. have voiced the importance of recycling.

She said recycling simply isn’t on the radar of the entire community, adding that current economic conditions may be one reason some people do not make the effort to sort their trash.

“They are concerned about food on their table, and working, and finding a job, instead of taking the time to put their stuff in a green bin and set it by the curb,” Sodrel said. “It is so easy to do.”

While Sodrel never misses a recycling pick up, she said she can tell by the number of green bins in her neighborhood that only about half of her neighbors regularly recycle.

She said it took a lot of work by a small group to organize this year’s festival, and she hopes her and her husband’s organization will receive more support from the community in the next year.

“Keep us alive. Believe in our mission,” Sodrel said of Trash Force. “You are saving our Earth, and it is our only Earth.”

 

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