2016 Summer Conference – Take Action for Zero Waste

Barnes Composting Facility
August 25, 2016
Jackie O’s Tour Review
August 25, 2016

The 2016 Ohio Association of Litter Prevention and Recycling Professionals Summer Conference (held at the Ohio University Inn in Athens, Ohio) included engaging tours of local attractions and informational talks.

The conference took place over the span of three days in the charming city of Athens and was hosted by Rural Action.
Rural Action is a non-profit organization in Appalachian Ohio, whose mission is to “foster social, economic, and environmental justice in Appalachian”. Rural Action created The Zero Waste Program that promotes a zero waste economy. They had great ideas and resources to share with OALPRP members. Rural Action had a lot to contribute in regards to general education dealing with recycling and zero waste.

The first day of the conference was comprised of tours of Wayne National Forest, Integration Acres, Jackie O’s, and the Ohio University In-Vessel Compost Facility. Wayne National Forest consists of 833,990 acres of land and welcomes visitors to explore its’ 300 miles of trails. At the park headquarters, conference members received an informational presentation about the challenges the parks face with illegal dumping in the area. A park ranger talked to the group about the efforts the Wayne National Forest agency is making to stop the illegal dumping as well as what they are doing to promote environmental protection and management.

After visiting Wayne National Forest, the group traveled to Integration Acres. Integration Acres was founded by Chris Chmiel after he graduated from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Chris and his wife, Michelle own Integration Acres and use their land for growing pawpaw and raising goats as well as making artisan cheeses and pawpaw products. Integration Acres is a very interesting business because they believe in a zero waste philosophy at their farm and throughout their trade. The fruit they harvest from the pawpaw trees is used to make many different organic products. The herd of goats graze on the land and keep it healthy by providing fertilizer for the trees. The goats also supply Integration Acres with milk that is used to make cheeses. Nothing goes to waste on the farm and everything is done organically.

By the time the Integration Acres tour was over everyone was ready to get to Jackie O’s. Brewery enthusiasts in the OALPRP group were excited at their opportunity to tour Jackie O’s pub and brewery on the first day of the conference. Jackie O’s is an especially impressive business because they are very passionate about the work they do and the product they put out . Jackie O’s has their own farm where they make organic ingredients used in their pub and brewery. They brew beer and wine and are always experimenting to see that they are doing their best to run an environmentally friendly business. Some ways they do this is by having solar panels on their roof that are responsible for creating 60% of the energy they use on a daily basis. They also use scraps from local lumber businesses and local construction companies to build their barrels and handles instead of purchasing new resources.

The final tour of the day was a tour of Ohio University’s Compost Facility. Ohio University’s facility is unique due to the fact that it contains the largest in-vessel system of any university in the country. Its’ in-vessel system manages all forms of organic waste and turns it into soil that is used on campus. The compost system is very advanced and efficient resulting in the ability to compost 100% of the university’s consumer dining waste.

Education sessions took place on the second day of the conference. The sessions divided into two separate topics. One topic was based on a technical topic, while the other was based on education. Four education sessions took place with three different presenters. The first two sessions of the day were given by Cathy Knoop who spoke about Population Connection. Cathy introduced a new and updated resource for teachers called Population Education. The purpose of her session was to show the group the activities provided by Population Education. She explained the importance of hands on learning in the class room and went through some demonstrations of the activities.

The second presenter was Sarah Fisher, who spoke on the topic of meeting state standards through inquiry learning. Sarah stressed the importance of getting outside and how she helps schools set up green labs. A green lab is an area outside that classes can use to give lessons. A green lab provides the teacher with a way to get their students out of the typical classroom setting. She gave group members new ideas to use when educating K-12, or even your kids at home. Inquiry learning helps children grasp the concepts in a more effective way.

Katrina Carpenter, the last presenter of the day, gave a presentation related to school standards in waste education. She shared activities that she has done with groups in the past. Her activities were fun but also very successful in teaching the groups about renewable resources, non-renewable resources, and general sustainability.

The last day of the OALPRP conference involved speakers who would present members with ways to improve their work place. Heather Cunningham from Think Tank Inc. spoke about volunteer reciprocity. She did a great job at showing how organizations can obtain more volunteers and keep them. Specifically, she mentioned how crucial it is to listen to your volunteers; make them feel involved and that they are a part of something, show them appreciation, and let them know that the things that they can do to help are meaningful.

The speaker who was last, but not least, was presenter Dr. Amy Adams. Dr. Adams made everyone in the room realize that dealing with difficult people does not have to be that difficult. Dr. Adams explained that getting along with and dealing with difficult people can be achieved through a four step process which she spoke about in depth.

The conference was successful in educating and informing attendees about taking action for zero waste. OALPRP members raised money through their silent auction to put towards the C.R. Meyers Memorial Scholarship and the Della Ewalt Scholarship. There was even an appearance from Woodsy the Owl. The OALPRP conference was an avenue for promoting and encouraging others to spread the word on how important it is to be waste free.

-Lauren O’Doherty, Erie County Recycling