By KATE AGLIATA
Students and employees at Oak Mountain High School now have access to more than 100 recycling bins school-wide. This is not your average recycling program, because its founder, Myrah Taylor isn’t your average high school student.
Since joining the Girl Scouts of America as a Brownie in her early childhood, Myrah has always been motivated by the organization’s “Leave No Trace Behind” motto. She first became involved with recycling efforts by collecting phone books in an effort to keep them from ending up in a landfill. Now a Senior Girl Scout, Myrah said she reached a point where she faced accepting the challenge of working toward the Girl Scout’s Gold Award, the highest service award for the organization.
“I looked around my community to see how I could impact it,” she said. “Recycling was something I was used to doing, and I realized that our school did not have a program.”
After her initial proposal for the recycling program met approval through Joan Doyle, principle of OMHS, and science teacher Tim Evans agreed to be her project advisor, Myrah began extensive work to generate additional community support and funding for the bins and disposal services. She met with several local business leaders, including Robert Kelly, manager of Shelby County Environmental Service, in an effort to work out many of the program’s details.
The issue of expense did occasionally raise concern for Myrah during the program’s development, yet with the help and support of many community businesses, she was able to raise enough grant money to purchase the bins and detail them with the recycle symbol. The greatest donation however, was offered by Waste Pro, which committed their bi-weekly recycling pick up services to OMHS at no expense.
The program is currently just for paper recycling, but Myrah hopes to eventually expand and allow for plastic and metal recycling as well. For now, however, her goal for the program is to begin raising more awareness among her peers, and within the community regarding the benefits of recycling.
“When we recycle 2000 pounds of paper, we save 17 trees,” Myrah said. “If one classroom recycles three pounds of paper per week, and we have 96 classrooms, how many trees do we save a week, a month, a school year?”
Myrah said the response so far has been positive.
“The students are actively participating, and coming up to me from time to time to tell me they are recycling both at school and at home.”
Although at times the process proved to be challenging, Myrah remained dedicated toward achieving her goals. Doing so not only afforded her the opportunity to prove her leadership skills but to also help make a significant impact on her community.
“I hope that everyone starts to think about our planet and how we can keep it healthy,” she said.
After graduation from OMHS, Myrah plans to attend college and said she’ll continue work to raise awareness within her community about environmental concerns.
What to Know to Recycle
What items can be recycled?
Any paper product is acceptable for recycling. This includes notebooks, boxes and copy paper even if it is colored. Students may also include books and binders. They can throw the whole binder into the bin even if it has metal rings. The only caveat is that food must not be in the paper product; so all food products must be wiped off before recycling.
How can you recycle at home?
Waste Management offers a curbside recycling service for residents of unincorporated Shelby County. Call the company and ask for curbside recycling. The service provides a 64-gallon can, and pickup is every two weeks. A fee around $5 fee per month is added to your trash bill. Myrah hopes that everyone considers recycling at home. To subscribe to Waste Management’s recycling pickup service, call 841-2740. To learn more about their recycling program, visit www.thinkgreen.com.