When the county switched to single stream recycling in November, conspiracy theorists came out of the woodwork to suggest it was a trick. Since all the paper, plastic and cardboard are now put in the same container, the county must really be throwing it away -- so the argument went.
Utter hogwash. The county recycling is now sent through two massive national companies: Waste Management hauls it to a facility RockTenn operates in Cobb County.
In about 10 minutes, I had seen enough on the internet to feel pretty confident that single stream recycling is for real – though the search turned up where single-stream was also questioned in other areas.
As our own public works director mused it’s hard to see why companies want it mixed but they do.
I understand people’s concern. If you are doing your part to separate your trash, lug nasty bins to either the Camp Road or Cove Road transfer sites, you want to know your old orange juice bottles and cereal boxes really are being remade later as new products.
I will not attempt to understand the whole recycling process, but I can assure you the county is doing its part and those large companies really earn money by handling recycled goods – quite a bit of money in fact.
In the national economic model recycling makes a lot of sense. Again taking to the internet, you can run down studies, from standard government recycling advocates, radical environmentalists and business groups that all conclude recycling is a more effective way to operate than trashing everything and starting from raw materials every time.
Unfortunately, turning waste back into new products such as plastic lumber, packaging, and occasionally cool by-products (fleece jackets from plastic bottles) does not create a huge advantage financially.
The process to do things like convert old office paper into packaging is not without its own costs – though recycled paper is one of the more successful parts of the industry. Glass, plastic and cardboard recycling are all a bigger challenge to make work in a business sense.
The challenges of making recycling viable financially are apparent at the local level. The Pickens public works director Greg Collis explained that they were switching to single stream as the company that had been servicing the county’s recycling center was ceasing operation here. Collis also said that over the years, they have had trouble getting rid of plastics at times and cardboard at other times. Recycled materials are one step above trash, but not by much. Further evidence of this is the two large bins of old Progress papers going back months that no one seems to want. The company that emptied those was the same as the county used. And no one is rushing to get the newsprint. (If anyone wants a load of old papers, feel free to help yourself, though retrieving them from a dumpster is not easy.) Working with Green Team recycling, the Progress bins for the past year generated $42 -- total.
A much bigger advantage of recycling is every load of cardboard you drop off at Camp Road is a load that isn’t going to a landfill.
While there is some value in recycled cardboard, there is only cost with garbage. The county still spends money to monitor methane from the former Jones Mountain landfill. You can hear the pumps running when you drive by and know that the county will be paying for those pumps to run for decades.
A further note, one of the greatest motivations to recycle in government and in industry comes from public demand. Locally, Collis said even though recycling has never paid off, it is something they recognize the people here want.
At a national level, technology companies like Dell and Cisco have both announced changes in their packaging as they feel customers expect them to cut the excess packaging and use compostable packaging materials.
If you already recycle, please continue to do so, confident that your old magazines and beer bottles are getting where they need to go.
And if you don’t recycle, now is a great time to start, especially as single stream has made it even more convenient.
Each year on the fourth Thursday in November, Americans gather for a day of feasting, family and football. Today’s Thanksgiving celebrations, while likely unrecognizable to attendees of the original 1621 harvest meal, have stood the test of time and continue to be a day for us to gather around the table and celebrate the things that bring us together - health, love, friendship.
As we enjoy Thanksgiving 2014 with our loved ones, let’s give thanks for hope for the future and the blessings from our past.
Here at the Progress we are thankful....
To citizens of the year like this year’s Jeff Downing who remind us that community service is a noble part of life.
To Tara Seagraves, a Willow Creek neighborhood mother, who took it upon herself to video cars illegally passing stopped school buses and bring it to the attention of the sheriff. Her efforts may have saved a child’s life.
To a winning PHS football team. Because it fosters a sense of comradery among students and the community. And it’s just plain fun when our team wins.
To the sheriff for putting the H.E.A.T on DUIs. The dark blue Dodge Chargers that patrol our roads keep us all a little safer.
To the county’s fire service protection improvements that dropped our ISO ratings in three of the five districts - which means a drop in insurance premiums.
To the county’s more than 320 teachers who go to school every day to educate our children and strive for a positive learning environment, despite the constant federal and state push for more and more paperwork.
To the road department guys who come out in the harshest conditions to do what they can with Mother Nature’s droppings.
To Tater Patch and North Georgia Acting Company for providing our community with exciting live entertainment throughout the year.
To Carole Maddux and the countless Good Samaritan Center volunteers who have served approximately 9,000 people who are at poverty level and have no insurance for their healthcare. Thanks to the doctors, dentists, clerks, and pharmacists that all volunteer to make sure nobody goes without medical care in Pickens County.
To CARES for feeding the needy all year round, not just during the holidays.
To all the businesses who provide local citizens with good, sustainable jobs.
To the city of Jasper police officers and county sheriff’s deputies who, although Pickens County is a very peaceful place for the most part, put their lives on the line every day just by showing up for work.
To the Jasper Farmers Market, which provides us with fresh produce from local farmers. And thanks for booth rental fees that are so low farmers can keep their prices low, too.
To the employees at the Camp Road recycling center who have always greeted our smelly garbage with a big grin. Their good attitudes are infectious.
To our loyal subscribers who support us and allow us do our jobs every week - bringing you the news of this community.
If anyone wants your shirt give them your coat also, Jesus advises in the New Testament.
The Rev. Joe Betts doesn’t ask that much for the second annual Holy Spirit Ranch/Pickens Progress winter coat drive, which runs through November 21st.
All he asks on behalf of the poor are for those coats (heavy, winter materials) that you never wear. Those coats in your closet taking up space that are too tight, out-of-style or you just don’t like.
Last year, some of our Progress readers gave new winter coats apparently purchased just for the coat drive, which brought Betts’ wife to tears over people showing that kindness.
But Rev. Betts is only asking for what you don’t use that might keep someone else warm this winter.
For years, Betts, who works out of the Holy Spirit Ranch office in the Grandview area, has ministered to the poor and homeless in public parks in the metro area. More than just delivering weekly messages, Betts and his wife, plus the volunteers with Holy Spirit, have worked to help find shelter, food, jobs and a chance to improve the lives of people who end up homeless. They have counseled and been friends to people living on the streets.
Keeping warm when you stay outside most all day is a challenge. And if you are ever in the city during winter, you know the cold that comes from the asphalt and concrete and steel goes right through what you are wearing. Imagine, not having anywhere to get out of that?
Particular to the homeless is having whatever coat you own stolen or lost, or thrown away if you leave it in the wrong place or with the wrong people.
This winter is shaping up to be cold. This weekend is predicted to be freezing and it’s not even Thanksgiving.
Thanks to the generosity of Progress readers, a lot of people will be a lot better able to withstand the freezing weather –especially considering they live in substandard housing or on the streets in the metro area. Two loads of coats and blankets from this drive have already been picked up by the Holy Spirit people.
Pastor Betts said the first load of donated coats came at a good time as he had people lining up at his Sunday services in Piedmont Park wanting the garments, plus blankets.
So far, the “As Long As It’s Warm” coat drive has produced 56 heavy coats; 23 jackets/hoodies; plus a good number of blankets, scarves, hats and gloves. We could use more before the coat drive ends November 21st.
Betts said they have checked locally and haven’t found a big need for coats here, but first priority remains Pickens County residents. Betts said he believes from groups like the Thrift Store and area churches most local people are covered. If anyone knows of a local need call Holy Spirit Ranch at 770-826-0203.
The coats not used in Atlanta are delivered by the Holy Spirit Ranch during mission trips to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where they are trying to plant a church.
It is unbelievable how much difference the coats people here never wear can make to people in both Atlanta and South Dakota, who will most assuredly put them to immediate use. Check your closets for this drive, it really does help. For more information look for a full-page ad elsewhere in this issue.
What would we do if we could travel through time? According to a recent Chicago Public Radio broadcast, many of us would go back in time and kill Hitler. But even more of us want to travel back in time and address our own mistakes.
The Pew Research Center recently found that one out of 10 Americans said they wanted future technologies to develop some way to travel through time. That’s around 30 million Americans -- showing this fantasy technology is desired by more than the Star Trek fans. The ability to time travel ranked high on a list of technologies people wanted to see invented, even tying finding cures for diseases.
When the producers from a public radio show took to the streets to find out exactly why people wanted to time travel they found some pretty interesting stuff.
Most people want to travel to the past rather than the future. We know what we are getting with the past; the future, not so much. Imagine we teleport ourselves to the future and find ourselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse (think The Walking Dead) or, even worse, we’re the only person on the planet and the we find ourselves looking at the only remaining structure - a monument to President Kardashian.
Going back in time, however, we have the ability to change things, perhaps even in grand ways.
Lots and lots of people said they would kill Hitler. Specifically they said they would “put a bullet in Hitler’s head when he was still a student” or “kill Hitler when he was a baby” or even “kill Hitler’s mother.”
But a resounding number of people surveyed said they wanted to travel to the past to erase their own mistakes rather than change history on a large scale.
Some said they would have not asked their ex-wife out for the first time or they would have provided some advice to their younger selves in the form of “5 things you need to know that will help you with the rest of your life.” People would tell their younger selves winning lottery numbers or to buy Apple stock in 1980.
Some felt with the wisdom of later age they could offer words of advice to their younger self, such as to study harder in school or pick a different career path.
Some people just wanted to go back and re-live a certain time in their life they enjoyed - as in the great cinematic achievement Hot Tub Time Machine.
Going back in time to fix something personal in our own lives sounds enticing but would erasing our mistakes help us find peace for our current selves?
Maybe. Maybe not. Perhaps our older counterparts know something some of us have yet to realize - even if we fix one thing in our younger lives, something else would probably go haywire to replace it.
The Pew study found that the majority of people over age 65 had no desire to travel through time. Maybe the older and wiser set realize that changing an event here or there that we regret could have repercussions as it echoes through history.
Or maybe they have already seen enough -- been there and done that with the past and nothing new ever comes along that is truly grand so what’s the point of seeing the future.
We would be hard pressed to find a person walking around today that wouldn’t change something they’ve done, but maybe it would ruin things a bit too. Experiences that we might not call experiences - that we call mistakes - can make us sad and regretful but if we go back and change everything we’ve done that we consider mistakes, then we don’t learn from them. And isn’t that part of the grand scheme of life?
Mistakes. There’s just no getting around them.
And we already time travel every single day in the present dimension with no machine. Maybe that’s how we fix the past - by fixing the present.
Ceremonies and events held in Pickens County in observance of Red Ribbon Week were poignant reminders of how drug abuse and addiction can destroy lives.
You could hear a pin drop as the mother of a boy who overdosed on prescription painkillers recounted her experience to PHS students –a tragic story being told across the country as painkiller abuse has reached epidemic levels.
Now reports are emerging about a rise in heroin use as a cheaper alternative to opioid painkillers (synthetic heroin), while the failed four-decade-long “War on Drugs” hasn’t put a dent in illicit drug use. According to a New York Times report from 2012 hard drug use has remained stable over the last 20 years, with “consumption habits moving from one drug to another according to fashion and ease of purchase.”
The Red Ribbon Campaign focuses on communication between parents and children about drug abuse and encourages citizens to make a pledge to be part of the “creation of a drug-free America” - but with studies showing that retail sales of legal prescription medications has doubled since 2000 we’d like to point out that America is even further away from being “drug-free” than you may have thought. America suffers from an epidemic of overmedication that we’d argue is also seriously harmful to the nation’s health and economy.
According to a study released by IMS Health in April, total dollars spent on medications in the U.S. reached $329.2 billion in 2013 (that’s just shy of Denmark’s entire GDP for the same year). This staggering figure was up 3.2 percent from 2012 and nearly double from the $172 billion spent in 2001.
A study released by the Mayo Clinic in June 2013 found that seven out of 10 Americans are on a prescription drug and more than half receive at least two prescriptions. Twenty percent of U.S. patients are on five or more medications.
We blame in part pharmaceutical companies’ increased use of direct-to-consumer advertising (all those commercials that encourage us to “ask our doctor” if certain drugs are “right for us”), which has more than tripled since the 90s, with drug companies now spending far more on marketing and promotion of their drugs than they do research and development. A Pew report found that in 2012, “the pharmaceutical industry spent more than $27 billion on drug promotion— more than $24 billion on marketing to physicians and over $3 billion on advertising to consumers. This approach is designed to promote drug companies' products by influencing doctors' prescribing practices.”
Drug manufacturers - many of which have been put on the AllBusiness.com’s “Top 100 Corporate Criminals” list for fraud, cover-ups of fatal side effects, doctor kickbacks and other egregious acts - are raking in obscene profits while the health of the American public remains unenviable. In 2013 the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council found that, despite us being the most medicated country in the world, Americans live shorter lives and are in poorer health than other affluent countries.
Then there are the health problems created from an overabundance of prescription medications - from prescription narcotics abuse, antibiotic-resistant germs and accidental deaths and illness from prescription side effects.
We’re not negating the value of advancements in medicine and we value prescription drugs for their ability to provide better quality of life for serious diseases like cancer, critical care and terminal patients. In an NPR interview Psychiatrist Dr. Sophia Vinogradov pointed out, for example, drugs for schizophrenia were once “draconian” but are now providing relief for that population.
"Wrapping them in wet towels, locking them in a padded cell, frontal lobotomies if the behavior was really out of control," she says. "So when anti-psychotic medications did evolve and they did reduce psychotic symptoms, it was like the heavens had opened."
We get that. But for the treatment of more common health problems prescription drugs shouldn’t always be the go-to. This approach will require a change in mindset. Doctors and patients must become more knowledgeable about health options and must place a stronger emphasis on prevention.