Fallston High custodian praised for recycling efforts

November 27, 1994|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Sun Staff Writer

Chief school custodian Joe Healy is a tree hugger -- or at least a paper and cardboard hugger.

His efforts have helped to make Fallston High School, where he works, a recycling success story. Each day, Mr. Healy and other maintenance workers empty the school's 250 cardboard receptacles, which are filled with all kinds of paper products and cardboard, into a white bin outdoors.

The Harford County school employee also is not averse to putting a reminder on the desks of environmentally incorrect students: "Stop! Please Recycle." If that doesn't work, "then I ask the administrators to help me," he said.

"Without his determination, we wouldn't be as successful as we are," Fallston High Principal Robert C. Pfau said.

Fallston High is one of 17 county schools that started a recycling program in September. Since then, about 2 1/2 tons of paper and cardboard has been recycled each week, said school purchasing agent Joan C. Wampler.

The initiative also has led to a partnership with the American Forest and Paper Association (AFPA), a lumber industry trade group. Peter Bunton, a vice president of the group, visited Fallston Monday to see firsthand what the school is doing. "We will use Fallston as a model to take to other schools across the country," he said.

The association is promoting the recycling of corrugated cardboard in a campaign called "Boxing for Dollars." There is demand from paper mills for used corrugated boxes, Mr. Bunton explained. "We wanted to start new programs to increase the amount of recycling being done," Mr. Bunton said. "The Washington-Baltimore area provides an opportunity for that."

The Washington-based AFPA hooked up with Harford County after contacting various recycling offices in the region. Representatives were interested when they learned that the local school system had recently started its program and was saving 11 percent on its trash pickup bill at the participating schools, said AFPA spokeswoman Terri Bartlett.

At Fallston High, school officials estimate that two-thirds of the // school's trash is now being recycled. "Heightening awareness is half the battle," Mr. Pfau said.

The school's environmental club also was an impetus. The club already had been recycling paper, club president Jeff Loyd said, stacking it in a storage room and lugging it to a recycling center.

"It was time-consuming," he said. "We're glad he [Mr. Healy] took over."

Mr. Healy said he was excited when he learned about the school system program. He spent many weekend hours making sure that each classroom and office had a recycling box strategically placed next to a trash can or near a door.

"It's a team effort," he said.

"I look in the bins every day. There are at least five papers," said Jeff, a 16-year-old junior. "That's a lot we're not wasting."

Fallston and the other schools were chosen to participate in the program because they are food preparation sites that receive significant amounts of products in corrugated boxes.

The other sites are Aberdeen High (two buildings), Aberdeen Middle, Edgewood High, Edgewood Middle, Havre de Grace High, Havre de Grace Middle, Joppatowne High, Magnolia Middle, North Harford High, North Harford Middle, Bel Air High, ,, Bel Air Middle, C. Milton Wright High, Southampton Middle and Harford Technical.

The program also is in effect at three school offices.

School officials are hoping to expand the recycling program to the rest of its 49 schools and offices soon.

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