About three months ago the city of El Dorado stopped collecting recycling , and that was something that just did not sit right with Shelly Shipman.
“I could not sop,” Shipman said. “I was profoundly disappointed. I Was always so proud that El Dorado was on the cutting edge of recycling. We were mandatory before most places were.”
Changes started in the summer months, starting with Butler County no longer taking recyclables other than cardboard. It was a movie made, according to Marc Murphy, chair of the Butler County Commission at the time, because the county had to make a financial decision.
“We like doing it when there is a reason to do and we are able to do it, but when it is going right to the dump anyway, there is no reason to do it,” Murphy said. “... There is no value left in them, and no one is buying them anymore. No one buys plastics or anything else.”
The county had trailers set up in several locations for recycling. Those items were hauled to El Dorado where it was sorted and taken to Wichita.
Other programs began feeling the pain as well. El Dorado ceased recycling operations in August, and estimated the city could save $50,000 before the end of 2019.
Shipman, however, just could not sit idly by as recyclable materials headed to the landfill.
“I kept thinking, what can I do, what can I do,” Shipman said. “People say ‘why you,’ I say ‘why not?’ If I don’t do it, who is going to do it? Who is going to pick it up for when my grandchildren are my age? Then what?”
She talked about it with her friends at church, and decided to start a service project. A recycling project at First United Methodist Church on Central Street. Each Wednesday volunteers — around for or so — help sort recyclable materials into bins.
Those materials are then taken by a church member to Wichita to a recycling center there.
“I thought we could make a little difference if we just made a little effort,” Shelly Shipman said. “... When you see the pictures of plastics floating in the ocean, it is , oh my goodness. Something has to give.”
Wednesday from 4:30-6 p.m., the group is collecting plastics (Nos. 1, 2, and 5), aluminum cans, and tin cans at First UMC, 421 W Central southeast of the church building.
Items must be rinsed well and sorted, though users can sort on site. Volunteers help with the sorting — and taking the sorted materials to Wichita when bins get full.
The project started during the last week of September, about three months ago.
“It is amazing what people bring,” Shipman said. “We don’t have 50 or 60 carloads. We are lucky if we have 20. But the 20 who come, we have lots of repeats. It is amazing how much plastic they bring us.”
Usually two to four volunteers are at the sorting and collecting recyclables.
“Lids must off, and everything must be rinsed out well. We can not take a dirty recyclable, because it will contaminate things,” Shipman said. “I think people mean well. You have to stress, it must be cleaned out. You have to stress, if you don’t, this is what will happen …. A whole load can be contaminated because someone did not rinse a mayonnaise jar.”
Collection will not occur on Dec. 25.