The mission of WIRE or Wichita Initiative to Renew the Environment is to identify the priority concerns around the environment for citizens of Wichita and then help them engage in those types of activities.
The group recently created a two-minute animated video to encourage citizens to take advantage of recycling opportunities.
After an extensive process of meeting with more than 1500 citizens and gathering 92 pages worth of suggestions, an education campaign was developed. It was prioritized around 19 issues, including what is the risk to the environment, economy and health and how motivated are people to address those concerns.
Elizabeth Ablah, an associate professor at KU School of Medicine-Wichita, facilitates the group.
“We went back to the citizens of Wichita, we met with another 800 people and had them prioritize those 19 concerns,” says Ablah. “And number one on that list was the issue of poor waste management or the lack of recycling. So we wanted to develop this video to help people understand. “
The city of Wichita implemented a new solid waste and recycling plan in November 2012. All trash haulers in Wichita are now required to offer recycling.
With single stream recycling now available, Ablah says it’s a false assumption to think recycling takes too much time.
“You have one bucket and anything that’s recyclable, you can plop it all on in that one bucket. You don’t have to sort out your plastics from your paper to your aluminum," says Ablah.
For those who want to sort their items, there are other facilities available, including the PRo Kansas Recycling Center.
“There’s no charge and you can take all of your recycling materials, and they will take care of it for you, “ says Ablah.
The cost of trash and waste management varies depending on the hauler. As pointed out in the video, Ablah says recycling costs can be negotiated.
Regarding landfill space in Kansas, Ablah says WIRE has heard arguments about farmers being paid to not grow crops, which means there’s more land than we know what to do with. She says that’s false.
“It is a myth. The reason that farmers are sometimes paid by the federal government to not grow crops is for environmental reasons," says Ablah. "We want to maintain the land and the soil and the water systems."
Ablah says about 60 to 75 percent of solid waste is recyclable, which saves natural resources, green house gases, energy and prevents pollution.
The city of Wichita will be implementing the solid waste and recycling plan for the next 10 years, and she doesn’t expect there will be any sort of mandate other than the mandate to the haulers to offer recycling.
Ablah says most people are not taking advantage of curbside recycling.
“I don’t know where the disconnect is because we heard very loud and clear from the community we want recycling,” says Ablah.
With the use of the video and additional communication, she hopes more people will start taking advantage of the opportunity to recycle in Wichita.