Earth Day lessons kicked off early in Pittsfield

Posted April 11, 2011, at 6:53 p.m.

PITTSFIELD, Maine — A field trip to the dump may not seem to be the most exciting educational opportunity, but as middle school students from the Pittsfield area found Monday, there are valuable lessons to be learned.

First of all, it’s not a dump. The Pittsfield Recycling Center and Transfer Station includes a windmill that earns the town revenue. On Saturday, a new facility will open across the road where residents can bring unwanted household items for others to claim free of charge. It will be called the Trash to Treasure Re-use Center.

The student visits to the site Monday were part of a lesson plan connected to Earth Day, which will be celebrated this year on April 22. Transportation of the students to and from the event was funded with a $500 grant from the State Planning Office, according to Pittsfield Town Manager Kathryn Ruth.

When a student asked, transfer station attendant J.P. Mailman put the “dump” talk to rest as his first order of business.

“What we’re standing on is the old Pittsfield landfill,” he said. “We’re making use of a trash heap and we’ve planted grass and trees.”

Transfer station and recycling program director Donald Chute told the students that there are more reasons to reduce, reuse and recycle than to protect the planet. He cited statistics about Americans’ voracious appetite for resources compared with other countries.

“We have 7½ to 8 percent of the world population and we use 80 percent of the resources,” said Chute. “That’s pretty selfish of us, isn’t it? Fifty percent of everything we throw away has a usefulness.”

Seventh-grader Logan Michaud of Pittsfield said he learned Monday that money can be saved by recycling.

“I’m going to recycle a lot more of my school papers,” he said.

Hannah Cunningham, another seventh-grader from Pittsfield, processed the information in more basic terms.

“Recycling just helps the environment,” she said.

Chute emphasized that recycling becomes easy once it becomes part of a person’s routine.

“I’m trying to teach you all to think about the consequences of everything you do,” he said. “Five minutes of your time per day can make a big difference.”

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