Published: Feb 10, 2008 08:00 AM
Modified: Feb 10, 2008 08:00 AM
Carol Woods' recycling commitment
Touch of Gray
Carol Woods is located within a county that is well-known for it's commendable recycling efforts, so a visit to the retirement community and a chat with most any resident will reveal the high level of dedication and interest in environmental issues there.The community's commitment to recycling has existed since its introduction in 1979, and residents have been actively cleaning up the environment since the early 1990s. It began with residents' desire to remove as much as they could from an on-campus waste stream, and has involved participation in activities such as working with Boy Scouts to recycle paper and other types of recyclables.As national environmental awareness boomed throughout the 1990s, the efforts and resident-run programs grew and evolved into what it is today: a bustling, self-aware community of 444 residents and almost 300 staff, all contributing the responsible management of waste materials at Carol Woods.Located within the 120-acre campus are dumpsters and central points for refuse collection that make it quick and easy for residents to be active recyclers and good stewards of their refuse materials. Materials such as newspapers, magazines and cardboard are recycled and shipped to the town refuse center. Hazardous waste such as cleansers, paint and solvents are put in a special container and picked up by the Orange County program.Residents are getting their hands dirty and loving every minute of it. Dick and Anne Wood have been in the recycling game since 1972. Upon moving to Carol Woods two years ago, they found that their passion for environmental stewardship could easily continue through this recycling program. "Carol Woods residents have a reputation around Orange County as being avid recyclers," Dick Wood said.Going beyond their personal commitment to recycling, Lew Woodham, the Woods, Jack Reed and Gordon Fisher also transport hazardous waste such as old paint and dead batteries to the county waste facility. Local packaging stores accept discarded Styrofoam.As appliances such as stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers are replaced on campus, many are donated to Orange County Social Services and Habitat for Humanity. The same is true of furniture and home furnishings donated to the Carol Woods' Bid Sale; items that aren't purchased by residents or staff are donated to local agencies for distribution to those in need.Another way Carol Woods helps give back to the community is through recycling re-usable clothing, eyeglasses, cell phones and electronic appliances that could benefit others.For instance, the cell phones that go out of style so quickly are donated to the local police department for re-issue to abused spouses. These phones are programmed specifically for emergency 911 calls. Through the Lion's Club, eyeglasses are collected at Carol Woods and then taken to local optometrists in Chapel Hill to be reconditioned and distributed to people who need financial assistance in obtaining affordable eyewear.As an employee perk, residents may donate used clothing to the staff clothing exchange closet. Items such as coats, suits, skirts and sweaters are available to any employee who wishes to browse and take home items for themselves or family members.Excess flower vases are collected and given to the local florist and, in turn, Carol Woods receives free flowers for the community's use. The flowers usually go to the Health Center, where residents who are in skilled nursing or assisted living use them to create floral arrangements that are then placed in the dining rooms.Smaller items that are donated include postage stamps, which are collected and then sent to Oxfam, and hearing aids, which are collected at Carol Woods and then reconditioned at UNC as an affordable option for the hearing-impaired.The Recycling Committee promotes the use of string or cloth shopping bags, returning plastic bags back to the stores, and donating usable appliances and furniture to the Carol Woods Bid Sale or bringing them to the Salvage Shed at the Eubanks Road Recycling Center.In April, Earth Day is celebrated by residents' participation exploring new ways to make the campus more energy, water and power efficient, and also discussing current environmental issues that affect the local and global community. "The community sets the atmosphere, the value. The standard [for recycling] is there," said Lew Woodham, who, with his wife, Ann, co-chairs the Recycling Committee and has been an active Carol Woods recycler for eight-and-a-half years."We have had the distinction of being one of [Orange County's] best recycling sites," Woodham said.The Woodhams provide information at monthly Resident Association meetings in an effort to educate residents as to what is and what is not recyclable. Recently, the Woodhams presented a "Dumpster Diver" certificate of appreciation to a resident who was seen diving into a dumpster to retrieve an item that should have been recycled.Carol Woods' residents are successfully following the three R's of recycling: reduce, reuse and recycle. Through this practice they hope to achieve the long-term goal of keeping as much waste as they can out of the stream of garbage filling local landfills now and in the future."Carol Woods does a good job of recycling. (The program) is alive and well and runs smoothly," Dick Wood said.
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2008 The Chapel Hill News