Savannah native Liz Taylor gets more than just money from her job. She’s passionate about her work and as a bonus it keeps her fit, since she doesn’t really like to wake up and go to the gym or go for a run.
“I just like to get up and recycle,” she said with a laugh. And she has motivation, which is so crucial to an exercise regimen – in her case, it’s the full bins of recyclables that each customer needs emptied.
She’s owned The Recycling Lady for almost eight years. She picks up recyclables from residential and business customers, as do other local companies including Rare Earth Recycling, Islands Recycling, and GreenLifespace.
It’s one of a long list of interesting jobs she’s had over the years: exercise instructor, helping build a sustainable wood bench for the Atlanta Botanical Garden, home health nurse staffing, and house manager and personal assistant in Napa Valley.
“It’s usually very interesting people who need an assistant,” she said. Her ta sks were either boring or a little crazy, she said, but thought it best not to give examples.
The City of Savannah is delivering a blow to her business, but she doesn’t care. In fact, she’s thrilled. The city’s planned curbside recycling program will be a huge benefit to the community and the environment, she said, so she’ll be perfectly happy just to pick up recyclables from her customers outside city limits.
“Even though I have a recycling business, I’m very happy it’s going to happen,” Taylor said. “It makes me very happy that over the years so many people have started to recycle. It makes me feel good – it’s just so important.
“What’s really wonderful to me is now they’re talking about recycling on Oprah – it’s all over TV,” Taylor said. “Now you can talk about it and somebody’s not going to call you an aging hippie.”
She’s recently done some consulting work for Melaver, Inc. to help set up recycling in its property Enterprise Mill. Located adjacent to the August a Canal near the banks of the Savannah River in Augusta, the restoration and redevelopment project houses professional offices, residential loft apartments and retail space. They’ve started with office paper recycling.
“We wanted to make it easy for everyone,” Taylor said. “The majority of people were so excited to have a way to recycle. The response was so positive. There is so much recycling of office paper it’s almost overwhelming.”
“At each company we’ve asked the office manager the best way to make recycling easy for people, because if you make it hard they’re not going to do it,” Taylor said. Melaver supplied small bins that can go under each worker’s desk. The common areas hold wheeled recyling bins, but one company has a bin in the copy room.
“Melaver is so dedicated and is doing so many wonderful things,” Taylor said. One of the companies in Augusta told her they had been talking about recycling for seven or eight years before Melaver made it easy at Enterprise Mill.
Rhoda Brown, property manager for Melaver, Inc., agreed that making it easy for the tenants was crucial.
“You’ve got to give them everything they need to make it work,” Brown said. Melaver, Inc. sees that a s its responsibility, and setting up recycling for tenants fits with the company’s commitment to sustainability. “We’re trying to do the right thing for the environment.” From what she’s seen, many more companies want to make choices like recycling.
“The majority of the tenants indicated this is something they’ve been waiting for,” Brown said.
Sometimes all it takes is a person who can help set up a system and get the project started.
“Liz lives and breathes recycling – it’s her favorite topic,” Brown said. “Sending a person with passion makes any job easier.”
Taylor knows how to help other people recycle. And at home, she sets an example that most of us would have to work hard to match.
She and her four dogs create one small grocery bag of trash each week. She gives her compost to a friend who uses it for a garden. Preferring voluntary simplicity, she’s annoyed by the excessive packaging, throwaway items that break quickly and consumerism that surround her. “We consume too much,” she said. “Buying makes people feel good.”
But much of what we throw away could be recycled, saving natural resources and energy as well as reducing pollution.
“I am so glad to see Savannah start doing the things that the majority of places have been doing for a long time,” Taylor said. “I’m very happy to be here and be part of the change,” she said. People who move here from other areas of the country are “astounded” Savannah doesn’t recycle, she said.
For Taylor, it’s not just about protecting the earth and using resources wisely, reusing materials rather than having to mine, drill or cut down natural resources. It’s also about community, she explains, and the feeling people get when they realize they’re making a difference. Recycling is an easy way for people to do something to help the environment. “I just know it makes a difference,” she said.
Melaver, Inc. is a third-generation, family-owned business based in Savannah, Georgia. The sustainable real estate developer currently has eight LE ED certified projects in their portfolio and developed one of the first LEED certified buildings in the U.S. which is also on the National Register of Historic Places. Melaver Inc. also developed the first all-retail LEED shopping center in the country, Abercorn Common, including the first LEED McDonald’s worldwide.
Contact: (912) 236-0781
In 2000, recycling of solid waste prevented the release of 32.9 million metric tons of carbon equivalent into the air.
Manufacturing and recycling a ton of recycled office paper:
• Reduces solid waste by 49 percent.
• Reduces total energy consumption by 43 percent.
• Reduces net greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent of carbon dioxide equivalents.
• Reduces hazardous air pollutant emissions by 90 percent and particulate emissions by 40 percent.
• Reduces absorbable organic halogen emissions to water by 100 percent and suspended solids by 30 percent.
Aluminum is infinitely recyclable without any degradation in the quality of aluminum. Recycling aluminum:
• Requires 95 percent less energy than producing aluminum from bauxite.
• Uses far less energy, produces less emissions, and saves money.
In 2006, U.S. recyclers recovered nearly 52 percent of the more than 100 billion aluminum beverage cans produced in the country. Still, more than a billion dollars worth of aluminum cans were unrecovered.