Precious Plastic: Faithfully Reducing Our Waste

Like so many good things, we started over food.

We established First United Methodist Church of Brunswick’s Green Team in an effort to eliminate the Styrofoam cups and plates that came with our Sunday morning coffees and Wednesday Night suppers. (It takes 500 years for Styrofoam to decompose.) It’s a simple, easily attainable goal, and one that our church family supports.

We branched out from there in a short period of time. Director of Children and Youth Ministry Alexandria Dickey Tipton, who serves on the green team, brought Precious Plastic to our attention. This open-source program, developed in Europe, provides tools for every step of the plastic recycling process—marketing, collection, shredding, extrusion, injection, and more—as well as an international network to connect with other programs worldwide and a marketplace.

“Why not take advantage of an open resource like Precious Plastic and help make it a worldwide thing? Everything you could need to get started is right there,” said Dickey Tipton.

We’ve already established ourselves as a Precious Plastic community point within the program.

“Our community point informs and organizes stakeholders to create a complete Precious Plastic universe in the Golden Isles, starting with educating and collecting plastic from the community, sorting and shredding to creating new, useful things with this precious raw material. Ideally we will guide and support individuals from the community to take up these different tasks, but we are also looking to fill part of these roles starting with acquiring a shredder for processing collected plastic,” said Toby Eisentraeger, a member of the team.

There’s a need in our community for recycling opportunities. As a tourism-driven community, Glynn County has its fair amount of condominiums and apartment complexes, many of which aren’t serviced by a recycler. Starting this year, the county cut glass from its residential, single-stream recycling. In August, the county commissioners chose to eliminate free recycling entirely, which leaves it to residents to opt into the program and pay the annual $60, according to the article “Recycling decision raises questions” in The Brunswick News.

There is local interest. Our green team hosted the first community meeting this spring. It drew about 20 people, and interest continues to increase. We have plans to host more of these meetings to build a local base, if the coronavirus permits. We also have a growing social media presence on Facebook and Instagram, and our church is in the process of providing us with a web presence.

“God gifted us with this amazing Earth, and we’re responsible for our uses—and misuses—of it,” said Kathryn Schiliro, a member of the team. “The green team and our work with Precious Plastic is our environmental course correction in our little corner of the world.”

Follow Golden Isles Precious Plastic on Facebook and Instagram @ppgoldenisles.

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About the Author:
Kathryn Schiliro attends First United Methodist Church in Brunswick, Georgia, where she serves as both the Environmental Committee Coordinator and Social Action Coordinator. She is a local journalist, always working to amplify the importance of caring for our precious planet.