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Making Recycling Paper a Priority

As many as half a million trees could be saved each Sunday if all readers recycled newspaper. Yet, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans recycle only about 40 percent of their papers. In the city of Prescott, Arizona, the amount was much lower because there was no newspaper recycling program.

Location: Prescott, Arizona, USA

The Lions Step In

Members of the Prescott Noon Lions Club made it their mission to help protect the planet when they started a community newspaper recycling program. “If the paper is recycled, environmentally that’s great because we’re reusing a product,” said Bill Parker from the Prescott Noon Lions Club. “And that means that we don’t cut down as many trees.” Twice a week, 35 Lions rise before dawn to collect newspapers from Prescott residents. The Lions also sort and ship the recycled papers.

Pulling Their Weight

In 15 years, the Prescott Noon Lions recycling program collected and shipped nearly 53 million pounds of used newspapers. “A major impact that this has on the community has to do with our landfill,” said Rowle Simmons, the former mayor of Prescott. “We’re not having to haul all of this to the landfill.” In addition, all money raised by the program goes to support more than 40 worthy causes, including Big Brothers, Big Sisters and the Yavapai Blind Center. And the success of the project demonstrates not only the value of recycling, but also how Lions are making a difference in their community.

Facts and Figures

The Prescott Noon Lions raised nearly US$230,000 in a recent year by donating 850 volunteer hours to the recycling program every month. Members also drive their own vehicles and average more than 25,000 miles a year.

 


Tips and Tools

Make It Happen: How to help your community – and the planet

Why did Lions decide to do this project? »
The Club was looking for a long-term project that would also help the community of Prescott.
Where did you start? »
Lions held an organizational meeting for the project. Then, Lions did a study to determine if the volume of newspaper in the city would justify such an effort. Afterwards, a paper broker gave us the plans for a paper collection project.
What human/material resources do you need to keep the project going? »
First, you need a central collection area for the paper you collect. We also need about 35 Lions to move the paper into two large trailers via conveyers. In addition, we use pickup trucks and collection trailers to move paper from our pickup locations to the central area.
How did you fund the project? »
The club did not have enough money to do the project initially. So, we conducted small fundraisers from 1969-1971 and earned enough money to buy a cotton candy machine. We used the income from cotton candy sales to start the paper recycling project in 1973.
Any special words of advice? »
Determine the volume of newspaper and magazine deliveries to your area – and if possible, an end game for the recycled paper. Our paper becomes home insulation, which is a nice ending for it.
"It gives a feeling of self-satisfaction that we can do something for the community. It also provides an opportunity for Lions to have a certain camaraderie, a spirit of working together."

Bill Parker,
Prescott Noon Lions Club

"It gives us relief that we’re not having to haul all of this to the landfill or whatever. And that saves the city of Prescott a lot of money."

Rowle Simmons,
Former Mayor, City of Prescott

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