Recycle & Reuse: New beginnings

Amy Hartline

With the new year can come many new opportunities and experiences. For me, I have started off this year with a new job that I couldn’t be more excited about. My name is Amy Hartline and I am the new recycling and education coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Management Authority. And yes, I also think that title is a mouthful. In simple terms, it means it is my job to try and help educate about recycling, landfill and environmental topics that are relevant to our community.

You may have known Liz Swafford, the wonderful woman who previously held this position, as the person you met at the landfill during a tour, or teaching you a fun eco-friendly DIY project. I know that I have some big shoes to fill, but I am honored for the opportunity to continue what came before me.

I’ve grown up in Dalton and Whitfield County and have always wanted to find ways to give back and improve this community. There are so many wonderful aspects to Dalton that don't get the attention they deserve. It is a fantastic and safe place to raise a family. It has great educational opportunities, and it has a small-town feel with a diverse population. I want to do everything I can to help it grow.

In my time as a high-schooler, I spent a lot of my time at the Dalton Little Theatre onstage, backstage and applauding from the crowd. I’ve always loved the arts and have taken multiple classes at the Creative Arts Guild. In this position, I use the skills I garnered during that time to give back to the same community that has taught me.

In December 2017, I graduated from Dalton State College (Beep! Beep!) as an early childhood education major. During my time there, I spent more than 1,000 hours in our local schools teaching lessons, getting sneezed on and being greeted by the sweetest children I could have hoped for. I can say with certainty our future looks bright. These experiences have prepared me to create exciting new projects for our tours that incorporate the ability to reuse materials and make learning about our facility hands-on.

I also spent my time as the young adult coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield County Public Library. You would see me working the desk there most days after school. I didn’t get to read on the job, but I did get to build a TARDIS out of construction boxes and play a giant game of "Clue," so there were some perks.

I am excited to have another opportunity to give back to this community, which is why I am so excited about this position and the “Recycle & Reuse” column continuing.

I am eager to begin this new role. I am busily making the crafts for our fun programs for local schools, learning the ins and outs of our recycling center and landfill for our college tours, and fostering communication about recycling and more eco-friendly living within the community.

About six months ago, I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a standard trendy video. It promised to follow a girl going zero-waste for 30 days. I planned to watch it and scoff at her making things seem worse or harder than they are, but I ended up being quite surprised. I watched her try to do simple tasks such as buy groceries or dry her hands with significant trouble at finding zero-waste options. That’s when I started to notice how much waste surrounds us in daily life. The average American creates about four pounds of trash every day and I worry that I myself may be above average some days when it comes to this statistic. Since that time, I have been taking baby steps to embrace the 3 R’s — reduce, reuse and recycle.

We live in an information age. This can be a great thing, but sometimes it makes trying to understand something new even harder. We have to sift through information and then judge whether it is correct or not. As I continue this column, I will provide you with simple information that leads to a greener life. I eagerly await you joining me on this journey!

Amy Hartline is the recycling and education program coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority. Have a recycling question? Contact her at (706) 278-5001 or ahartline@dwswa.org.

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