Aldona Bird, Columns/Opinion

Preston County needs a better recycling system

This week the future generation inspired me. The subject of my daughter’s homeschool pre-school group was recycling. The class teacher read a couple relevant stories, explaining the meaning of “reduce, reuse and recycle.”
Then we played a sorting game, for which the tots put cards with pictures of different items into a box for trash, recycling or compost. While many of us adults see this type of activity as a chore, the kids loved it. I found myself wishing their excitement could spread to the community.
After the story and activity, we snacked on home-popped popcorn, brought in a reused bag.
I thought this class theme lead perfectly up to Earth Day this weekend.
It also sparked annoyance. Parents chatted and vented about the lack of reasonable recycling in Preston County.
While I don’t mind making trips to bring my recyclables to a centralized location (I understand the county is rural and don’t expect the curbside services available in cities), I am disappointed in the system we have. Not being able to recycle glass, non-corrugated cardboard or slicks is a problem, not only for those of us trying to reduce landfill contributions but also for the environment.
However, trying to get into the spirit of Earth Day, I’ve been trying to focus on what I can do to help the planet. I’m a firm believer that while we absolutely need to work together as a community to solve environmental issues, we also need to work as individuals. No action is too small to make a difference.
Already thinking of what I could do to celebrate the planet, the pre-school class inspired me to think of eco-friendly activities to share with my daughter.
First, we will be picking up trash along our road side left by our resident bear who dragged garbage bags around last fall. The trash was first hidden by weeds, then buried in snow and now revealed and blown about in a windy spring.
With most of the landscape still brown and snakes still in hibernation, the time is perfect to teach my kiddo about our obligation to keep the environment litter-free, even if we did not directly create the mess.
This week, we will also nurture the earth through natural gardening. If the weather holds, I’m hoping to plant our first seeds.
I’m most looking forward to starting peas with my little one. I have early memories of my mother enlisting my help, and I use her method of starting the seeds indoors between a couple damp cloths.
Pea seeds sprout quickly, which is great when working with a short attention span and focus (specifically my own, although I’m sure my 3-year-old will also appreciate the quick result). The sprouts forming roots in the damp cloth will be a great visual aid to teach how plants grow.
We will plant the pea sprouts in the garden and add a little compost to conclude our earth friendly gardening lesson.
In addition to family activities throughout the week, I’ll celebrate Earth Day on Saturday evening by volunteering at the Friends of Deckers Creek annual Spring Meltdown. It’s always a fun event, and proceeds help protect and restore our local waterways. What could be a better way to celebrate Earth Day?
Another Saturday event I’m looking forward to is Chocolate Lovers Day, in Morgantown. This is the first year I’ll be able to attend. I haven’t quite found a way to connect it to Earth Day on Sunday, but I’m hoping tasting some chocolate will provide inspiration.
ALDONA BIRD is a journalist, previously writing for The Dominion Post. She uses experience gained working on organic farms in Europe to help her explore possibilities of local productivity and sustainable living in Preston County. Contact her at