Every Day Can be Earth Day, Even in the Military
by Lance Cpl. Rose A. Muth
Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan— Imagine mounds and
mounds of trash piling up in a landfill until one day it gets full leaving
no where else to store the garbage. The growing trash problem on military
bases in Okinawa, Japan, is overfilling the landfills, but recycling could
be a simple solution.
Servicemembers produce more trash than the Okinawans
and it’s becoming a growing problem, said Bruce Whisenhunt, recycling
director, Marine Corps Community Services Recycling Center, Camp Foster.
“The purposes of recycling are to keep as much trash out of the
landfill (as we can) and recover important resources that we can sell
back to local vendors and save taxpayer dollars,” said Whisenhunt.
of Defense directive 4715.4 established a qualified recycling program
in accordance with base order 4400.18, which requires all tenants in military
family housing to recycle.
“There are millions of dollars spent every year
to throw trash away. If we could keep recyclable items out of the trash,
we could drastically reduce disposal fees and use the money to buy other
things,” Whisenhunt said.
In 2003, Marine Corps Bases, Japan, saved $300,988 by
recycling 2,895 tons of trash and 1,600 tons of paper.
“Setting up a recycling program in your home is
easy,” Whisenhunt said. “No matter where people are, they
can still make a difference.”
Setting up a recycling system in the home or office doesn’t
require much work. Set aside an empty trashcan with a label marked “paper,”
“cans” or “plastics.” Remove labels and rinse
bottles or plastics after they are used, and look for a number one or
two on the bottom of the bottle or can.
“Plastic types number one and two are the only type
of plastic that we accept. We also accept number six Styrofoam,”
Once material handlers pick up the recycled items from
housing and work areas, they take the items to the recycling centers on
Camp Foster and Kadena Air Base. The items are then separated into categories
and sold to local vendors.
Along with being good for the environment, recycling
helps raise money for different units around Okinawa.
“We have ‘recycle wars’ to help raise
money for the Marine Corps ball. Whichever unit wins the contest gets
to use the prize money for their ball,” Whisenhunt said.
Offices can start a recycling program by calling the recycling
center to have bins dropped off, and they can set up a schedule to pick
them up. Recycling bins are also available at Direct Support Stock Control.
Recycling requires a little effort from service members
and their families to sort out items and peel off labels, but the money
saved can be worth the effort.
“Recycling helps taxpayers save money every year
but also saves money for the government,” said base recycling center
tractor-trailer driver Sean Cohen. “We pay the Okinawans ¥24
for every kilogram that goes to the landfill. We started out with seven
landfills, but two have closed because they’re overfilled.”