Derek Micah Armstrong

Derek Micah Armstrong

During Tuesday night’s State of the Union, President Bush said, “America’s on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. And these technologies will help us become better stewards of the environment, and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.”

Although it is good Bush is finally talking about doing more to protect the environment, it’s too little, too late, and Kentuckians should not wait any longer. When it comes to protecting our heritage, we should ignore Congress and pass our own laws to protect our beautiful state.

With its rich history and panoramic vistas, Kentucky has a lot to be proud of such as Cumberland Falls, Natural Bridge and Mammoth Cave. Laurel Countians can be proud of Levi State Park and the beautiful scenery found in the countryside. I can’t help but appreciate God’s handiwork every time I look out my window. But I’m worried we are not taking care of the state’s natural resources. Every day I pass litter along the side of the roads as trees are torn down to be replaced by houses and parking lots.

Here are two proposals for how we can protect Kentucky’s natural beauty:



BOTTLE BILL

Bottle bills are proven to reduce litter and promote recycling. The refund value of the container (5 or 10 cents depending on the state) provides incentive to return the container for recycling.

In 1999, a preliminary analysis by Container Recycling Institute, a non-profit research and education organization in Arlington, Va., indicated a bottle bill would benefit Kentucky by:

• Creating an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 new jobs based upon the experience of other states, many of which are high-wage, high-skill positions;

• Savings of millions of taxpayer or ratepayer dollars annually in “avoided disposal costs,” by not having to collect and dispose of beverage containers in landfills; and

• Reducing litter-related costs for local government, farmers and businesses.

According to the analysis, Kentucky would see immediate results from a deposit system, including:

• Recycling 80 percent or more of the estimated 2.4 billion beverage containers sold in Kentucky each year;

• Reducing beverage container litter by 40 to 60 percent; and

• Reducing energy consumption and pollution associated with making new beverage containers from raw materials such as aluminum, plastic or glass.

To fund out more about bottle bills, check out www.bottlebill.org.



CURBSIDE RECYCLING

Laurel County has a good recycling system, but we could be doing much better by introducing curbside recycling. The EPA estimates 75 percent of what Americans throw away every week could be recycled, yet only a mere 25 percent makes it to the recycle bin.

I understand paying haulers to come to your house every week and pick up your recyclables is expensive, but most communities use tax dollars and slightly higher trash bills to cover the cost. And here’s a secret. The more people recycle, especially valuable materials such as aluminum cans and paper, the more money the companies hauling the recyclables make, which means less money is required to offset the high costs.

Given recent trends, I think curbside recycling is needed because few Kentuckians can be bothered to do it. During the five-year stretch from 1998 to 2003, the amount of household material recycled in Kentucky dropped from 1,150,620 tons to 919,802 tons.

“In general, recycling has declined,” Sara Evans, manager of the resource conservation and local assistance for the Kentucky Division of Waste Management, told the Kentucky Post in 2004. “We’re recycling about half of what we were in 1998.”

Meanwhile, the number of counties that offer some form of curbside recycling is dwindling. In 1998, 29 counties provided the service, and in 1999, 33 did. But in 2003 only 18 did.

As the southern part of the state, including our region, struggles, northern Kentucky boasts a high number of curbside recycling programs. In 2004, 21 of the area’s 37 cities had free curbside recycling service. An additional five cities offered curbside recycling for a fee.

“If you have a city’s contract providing it, people think, ‘Well, I might as well do it,’” Reno Deaton, solid waste management coordinator for Campbell County, told the Kentucky Post in 2004.

To find out more about recycling in Kentucky, check out www.waste.ky.gov/recycling/.



British author and theologian C.S. Lewis once said, “Because God created the Natural — invented it out of His love and artistry — it demands our reverence.”

As a Christian, I belief in creation. So why would I want to abuse what God created? Is a parent happy when a child ruins something he or she created? So why would God be happy when His children ruin what He created?

Let’s put faith into action. Let’s become pro-life, standing up and fighting for everything God has created. To begin with, please recycle this when you’re finished reading it.

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