Do you remember this sign? It was mounted out by Jimmie Leeds Road in front of the Galloway Municipal Complex from 1987 until December of 1991. For those of us on the original Galloway Recycling Committee, these were exciting and challenging times!
In 1987, the “New Jersey Source Separation and Recycling Act” was passed. This was a mandate to begin throwing away less material as trash and to start to “source separate” recyclable materials for the resource commodity markets. An ambitious goal was set; to pull out 60 percent of material from the solid waste stream within five years time. These source separated materials were to be newspaper, cardboard, glass, cans and some types of plastic.
Of course, recycling was not something brand new back then. I can’t tell you how many folks would tell us that they did this during the depression or the war efforts to preserve all types of resources. I would always wonder how we got away from that ethos; how easily we transitioned into a throwaway society ! When I began to do recycling on my own in the late 60’s, it was indeed the old time scrap dealers who took the metals, the paper and cardboard; as those market and commodity chains certainly still existed from older times. The old glass industries, for which South Jersey has been known since Colonial times, could be counted on to buy glass to be melted down and used again. Later there were popular fledgling operations in Galloway for years; most notably the Stockton parking lot drop-off center. The “Stockton Action Volunteers for the Environment” (S.A.V.E) group; along with faculty, staff and the general student population energetically processed materials, beginning around 1974. Between two parking lots there was a space with a shed, an overhanging roof extension, a fenced in area for dropped off materials and numerous 55 gallon drums for crushed and color separated glass cullet (incredibly heavy!). The newspaper was stacked and bundled in the shed and the cardboard flattened and bundled under the overhanging roof. These materials were then carted by volunteers in private or rented trucks to those scrap dealers and glass mills in Atlantic City, Vineland, Millville and Glassboro.
Part of the mandate requirements in 1987 was for each town to hire or assign the duties of a municipal employee to the job of Recycling Coordinator. So in 1988 Galloway hired Virginia Lamb, just graduated from Stockton as an Environmental Studies student. Virginia definitely hit the ground running; immediately formed a recycling committee, worked with residents, businesses, condo associations and many other entities. She helped design and implement drop-off centers because there was no curbside pickup of recyclables yet. You may remember the compartmented trailers and blue barrels. All of this material was picked up and delivered to the Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA) for processing. These weight numbers were eagerly tabulated and every month we painted the new level of tonnage on the sign. Each year would start again with more paint, so it’s quite thick on that old board !
Virginia Lamb left Galloway Township in 1991 to take up the Monmouth County Recycling Coordinator position. She continues to be an educator and consultant in the fields of recycling, food waste diversion, composting and soil health.
Later in 1991, Barbara Fiedler was hired as the second Recycling Coordinator of Galloway, a graduate of the first class of certified recycling professionals in New Jersey. She previously worked as a special education teacher and as a professional graphic designer. Barbara oversaw a period of tremendous expansion of the recycling program; as the last township landfill closed in 1991, curbside pickup of both trash and recycling began and new materials markets became available. She morphed the recycling committee and other similar groups into what is today Go Green Galloway, created the Galloway Community Garden, the annual GreenFest, assisted in the formation of the Galloway Green Market, the memorial program at Patriot Lake, and created education programs for schools and the community at large. Through receiving many grants, her own position was consistently paid for, equipment bought for Galloway Public Works and amenities provided for the general public. Barbara served for 25 years until her retirement in 2016. Her successor and current director of the Office of Sustainability is Melanie Lynch, who continues the tradition of recycling management in Galloway Township, even though there are so many challenges now with the economy and changes in the commodities markets for recycled materials.
So, that old sign was dusted off for another look. It represented a lot of hopes, ideas, hard work and history, and showed the community what they could accomplish by learning and working together!