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Reduce, reuse, recycle

Novi community’s successful ‘green’ efforts

Created date

March 22nd, 2011

Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. Do without. For folks who lived through the Great Depression and World War II, or whose parents did, that little ditty represents words to live by. So it s no surprise that residents helped develop and now oversee the recycling program at Fox Run, an Erickson Living community in Novi, Mich. Recycling is typically done at Erickson Living communities, says Fox Run Facilities Manager Sid Saeger, so in 2004 we asked for a committee of residents interested in recycling and a lot of people were interested. Two early community members spearheaded the effort to recycle papers, junk mail, and magazines.

More than just paper

A few years later, Saeger says, Doreen Poupard, Peg Quigley, and Carolyn Benivegna said, Paper is one thing, but look at all the other stuff that could be recycled. The women formed a steering committee and explored what could and couldn t be accomplished. Saeger contacted recycling companies and negotiated contracts that added cardboard, metal, and plastic to Fox Run s program. The program couldn t have happened without Sid, says Poupard. She was with us all the way.

Green hearts

Both Poupard and Quigley had lived in communities that recycled Poupard in Ann Arbor and Quigley in Troy. We had a little green in our hearts, Poupard says.

Piloting toward success

The steering committee s key to success lay in its comprehensive and methodical approach. In 2007, it launched a pilot program that included just two of Fox Run s residence buildings. Things expanded gradually from there. The approach comprised four components education, convenience, monitoring, and recognition. We created handouts, held information sessions, and recruited resident volunteers to meet with anybody who hadn t attended a session, says Poupard. The sessions were humorous show-and-tell presentations of what could and couldn t be recycled and why. The committee also videotaped one of the sessions and aired it on Fox Run s in-house TV channel. The four components remain in place today. New residents receive information about recycling and even get a tour of their building s recycling room.

Volunteer power

Poupard and Quigley served as recycling coordinators for their residence buildings early on, and each still does. Every building also has a cadre of volunteer monitors. Glo Whan is one of Meadowbrook Square s seven monitors. The Ford retiree who worked for Ford Motor Land Development Corp. says her recycling is ingrained. During World War II, she recalls, My mother washed and ironed the tin foil, rolled it on a paper towel roll, and re-used it. That stuck with me. Whan checks her building s seven 96-gallon recycling bins once a week to remove items that don t belong or are in the wrong bin. She never has to trudge out into the weather to do it because Saeger made recycling convenient she located each building s recycling room on the lower level by the elevator. While community members run the program, The staff here is so good to work with, says Quigley. Sid really believed in this. It had to be financially feasible, and we found that it saved so much in the amount of garbage that it really did pay off.

98 tons of trash

Fox Run s clubhouses and kitchens also participate. In 2010, the community s combined total of paper, cardboard, metal, and plastic saved 98 tons of trash from the landfill; that s roughly 300 cubic yards. Proceeds from the community s paper recycling, which benefit Fox Run s benevolent care fund, totaled $1,337.27. And there s more good news. Hunt Club Caf recently announced it s switching from nonrecyclable Styrofoam takeout containers to reusable plastic ones.

Green is a natural in Novi

Recycling isn t the only green topic at Fox Run. Residents are so conscientious about the environment, says Facilities Manager Sid Saeger. Some are asking, If we got an electric car, would we be able to plug it in? Nobody here has one, but that s an example of how forward-thinking they are. Well, of course! Fox Run is in Novi, which isn t far from the automobile plants that make electric cars. Last year the city was the site of a green car conference organized by Automotive News. And Novi is home to a lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant, the type of battery used in electric vehicles.