Often referred to as one of the happiest places to retire in Happy Valley, residents at The Village are certainly friendly with one another, and equally worth mentioning is their friendliness towards the environment. A university-based retirement community, The Village at Penn State’s residents participate in numerous activities, clubs, and events that suit their wide variety of interests. For resident, Jim Tate, one interest of his that has been an integral part of the community for many years is recycling. In fact, Jim would describe it as more of a passion.
I’m very passionate about recycling. It is something I learned when I was a child and it’s been with me ever since. I believe it is our civic responsibility to recycle.
Before moving to The Village in December of 2018, Jim lived in Malvern and served as Chairman of the Willistown Township Recycling Committee for 25 years. In fact, he successfully applied for grants with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that gave the township half a million dollars over the course of 20 years.
With plenty of previous experience, it didn’t take long for Jim to come across The Recycling Committee at The Village. And soon enough, he began setting out to achieve similar accomplishments. Within five months of moving in, Jim was elected as Chair of the Committee.
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Playing an instrumental role in developing The Village’s progressive recycling culture, this group has been active within the community for several years. Since the Committee’s development, they have made significant strides in furthering The Village’s recycling program, and for this reason, Jim was very excited to assume his new role.
“The residents at The Village are key to the success of the entire program,” Jim emphasizes. “I could see that they were eager to learn more and that some of them weren’t exactly sure of all the materials they could and could not recycle and where exactly they should recycle them,” he explains. Jim and The Committee’s first goal was to give residents more information. In doing so, they hoped to seize all of the media opportunities that The Village had to offer.
“We sent out updates in The Village’s newsletters, we provided information at the monthly Resident Council meetings, which welcomes all residents to attend, and I also made it a point to give informative, upbeat presentations each month to residents that convey where we’re successful and what we need to work on.” Jim also notes that he makes himself readily available by phone or email to answer any questions residents might have. “No question about recycling is trivial,” he affirms.
As The Committee successfully communicated with residents, recycling became more prevalent throughout The Village and more materials were being recycled. Pleased with their success, Jim and The Committee discovered that with the evident increase of recycled items, they needed more containers to store them. “We needed three recycling containers designated for plastic alone,” Jim explains. “We just didn’t have enough. Right away I thought, how can we figure this out?”
After further investigation, Jim and The Committee learned that the local vendor who collects and transports The Village’s recycled materials could provide as many additional recycling containers as they needed as well as more frequent pickups of recycled items at no extra cost. “Once we found that out, I felt a lot better,” Jim says relieved.
Over the years, The Committee has had tremendous success in establishing an active recycling culture among staff and residents at The Village. In fact, from 2018 to 2019 The Village managed to increase the amount of recycled materials by over 55 percent. That amounted to an additional 7,935 pounds of successfully recycled materials in just one year. “I’m extremely pleased with that number,” Jim says.
Jim adds that The Village’s maintenance staff have played a significant role in the success they’ve managed to achieve with their recycling program. “They have been extremely helpful and supportive,” he adds. “We have a great working relationship.”
As The Committee continues to serve its mission in facilitating an active recycling culture throughout The Village, Jim and its members look forward to the future. “Our next goal is to educate residents on the materials that are especially hard to dispose of, like prescription pills and plastic bags,” Jim says optimistically. Full of hope for their next big endeavor, The Recycling Committee continues to make a positive impact on their community as well as their environment.