By: Sarah Ferrell, 4-H Youth Development Agent III
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Americans produce more than four pounds of trash per person per day, amounting to 20 percent of the world’s waste. Although recycling rates have increased over the past thirty years, out of the four pounds of trash produced in the U.S. each day, 1.5 pounds is either composted or recycled while another 0.5 pounds is incinerated. However, more than 50 percent of waste still ends up buried in landfills. This is an issue because landfills are becoming overran with waste. Although recycling is encouraged, we need to do a better job at educating the public on how to recycle and the proper items to recycle. Households have switched to single-stream recycling where all recyclable materials are mixed in a single bin at home which made it easier to recycle waste. Unfortunately, this makes it easier for paper or plastics to become contaminated by other materials like food and liquids in the recycling stream; therefore, between 5 and 25 percent of a materials recovery facility’s incoming recyclables are discarded and sent to landfills. These are items that are discarded in the landfill just because the general public that took the initiative to first do the good deed and recycle, was unaware of the proper method and did not realize items should be divided further. Like other counties across the state, Cannon County does a good job in picking trash up off the sides of the road but tax payers do not realize the money they could save if they would be responsible enough not to litter to begin with. In Cannon County our goal is to educate the public.
After spending years trying to educate adults, we have realized a good way to reach adults are through their children. The “Do it Yourself” projects have become popular and as educators, we wanted a hands-on learning experience for the youth in Cannon County as well as the parents working with those youth. Materials that were considered garbage for generations are now being recognized for what they still offer after their useful life. Trash can become treasure. With the 4-H “Trash to Treasure” contest, 4-H members in grades 4th-8th had a chance to help our environment while showing creativity at the same time.
At Cannon County Good Ole Days, the 2021 Cannon County 4-H Trash to Treasure Winners were recognized by Representative Clark Boyd as implementing a creative and essential 4-H Contest that will educate the public while impacting youth. The top 4 county winners were presented with prizes and recognized on stage by UT Extension Agent, Sarah Ferrell. The winners were as follows 1st place -Squirrel Cafe by home school 4th grader Brooklynn Conner, 2nd place – Wooden Hello Sunshine Sign by Short Mountain 4th grader Kinley Fisher, 3rd place – Horseshoe Deer Antler by Auburn 7th grader Preston Hamby, and 4th place – Lawn Ornament by Auburn 7th grader Memphis Reed. Participants explained their projects on stage and displayed their creations.
For more information about the Cannon County 4-H program, contact Sarah Ferrell at email@example.com or 615-563-2554. UT Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment through the cooperation of county, state, and federal governments. Programs are open to all people regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, or disability.