Earth Day was started by Gaylord Nelson in 1969. Nelson was a U.S. Senator at the time and believed that he could use the energy from the anti-war movement and create a movement for consciousness about the environment. The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970 and over 20 million Americans took part. It led to the formation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. This year, Earth Day is doing the same thing that it has done since the beginning- bring awareness and encourage action. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department is also doing their part. On October 15, 2012 OCSD was recognized by the California Peace Officers’ Association at the 2012 Annual Best of COPSWEST awards luncheon for its efforts in “going green.” OCSD received the “Best Go-Green Efforts” award for its recycling and waste diversion programs in its jail facilities. These programs, implemented by the Custody and Court Operations Command, have cut the cost of hauling waste by approximately $16,000 per year and significantly reduced the amount of waste sent to Orange County landfills. Captain Toni Bland noticed a high volume of cardboard being discarded as “trash” and identified a recycling opportunity. The cardboard collected over a two week period amounted to about 40 cubic yards of trash compactor space (8’ x 8’ x 22’dumpster). Efforts didn’t stop there – they changed the type of trays, cups and bowls used from polystyrene a non-biodegradable product, to polystyrene, which is completely recyclable. They also began recycling inmate clothing, converting them into industrial rags. Six-week results averaged a return of approximately 2 ½ tons diverted from a landfill.
Examples of how the Sheriff’s Department is going green includes: Theo Lacy Jail Facility: The implementation of an electronic inmate count system saves approximately 900 pages of paper per day or 3,200 pounds of paper per year. In addition, the facility recycles cotton, cardboard, polystyrene, metal, paper and plastic products. To date, Theo Lacy has recycled nearly 12 tons of cardboard alone. James A Musick Jail Facility: Approximately three tons of metal food containers and cans are recycled at Musick each month. Centrail Jail Complex: Nearly four tons of paper products are recycled each year at the Central Jail Complex and then sorted, shredded and sold as a commodity item. Inmate Services: The utilization of a nutritionally sound milk replacement product that is prepared in reusable cups has eliminated approximately 7,000 milk cartons per day. The program has not only reduced costs but diverted a large quantity of waxed cardboard waste away from the county’s landfills.
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