March 8, 2012

Earth Day 1970 Leads to Slippery Rock, PA, Recycling Center





2012. Recycling is mandated in many communities, with few people challenging the importance of this lifestyle.

It hasn’t always been this way.

1970. Recycling is one of the lifestyles connected with ‘on the fringe’ lifestyles. The first Earth Day begins to look at its importance. Some communities respond to this event’s call for action. Slippery Rock,Pennsylvania, was one of these communities.



     In April, 1970, shortly after my husband Monte and I moved from Buffalo, New York, to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, we participated in the first Earth Day movement. The event called participants to environmental action.

     Out of that celebration emerged a few people who thought that Slippery Rock should have a recycling center. The main movers of the project were three women whose husbands were connected with Slippery Rock State College (now Slippery Rock University): Wanda Badgett (education department professor); Karen Lamson, (librarian), and Sue Hotchkiss, (parks and recreation department professor).

     Enjoining Dick Manning, a parks and recreation student who was the resident manager of  Sippery Rock CommunityPark, to help locate a site for the recycling center, the group found a small barn in the park, which was once a farm. It was full of junk and had a dirt floor.

     I’m not sure how our family became involved in the recycling operation, but we soon signed on. Monte thinks he heard about it through Wanda, who was, like us, a member the Slippery Rock United Methodist Church. 

      Soon Monte was doing much of the nuts and bolts work at the center. He helped to clean out the barn and concrete the floor.

     The recycling center needed large containers to sort the recyclables in. Someone with connections to Armco Steel Company in Butlerarranged for them to donate barrels. Initially, Monte thinks they brought the barrels to Slippery Rock. Later on Monte drove his bright turquoise (ugh! the color!) van to the Armco Steel Company to pick up the barrels.

     I used to get barrels that acid came in. They were great because the steel 55-gallon drums had a vinyl liner that could be pulled out and used as a second barrel when the top was cut off, Monte said.  

      We were different than other recycling operations in the area—we let people bring in bags of materials at any time. The building was open all the time. That meant that things were not sorted well and we had to work to sort. I think it was good because it made recycling easier for people, Monte said.

     Initially, people brought glass, metal cans, aluminum, and newspapers to the site. They were required to remove the labels from the cans, and flatten them. To pack the glass more compactly, volunteers broke it. There was an element of fun hearing the glass splinter in the barrels.

     Although we were not organized and bags were just piled in the building for us to sort, we felt good that a lot of people were at least beginning to think about recycling, Monte said.

     Time went along, and the recycling center became more organized. Volunteers sorted the recyclables. It was hard to get workers for recycling in those years in the seventies, Monte said.

     The recycling center was fortunate that the National Guard unit in Grove Citywas seeking projects for their unit to do on some weekends. They brought trucks, loaded up our metal, and transported it to Neville Island. Monte recalls that the Interstate 79 Neville Island Bridge wasn’t completed yet, and we had to travel over some back roads, and cross the Ohio River at Sewickley, then proceed to Coraopolis and Neville Island. The National Guard unit also trucked glass to Parker or to OwensIllinois in Clarion.

     Eventually Sue Hotchkiss contacted the U-Haul company’s corporate offices in Arizona and arranged for them to donate a truck for our use. We had to buy the gas and pay four dollar insurance fee to use a truck we picked up from a dealer in Mercer.

    We didn’t get a lot of money for recyclables in those days, but we (more…)


April 22, 2010

EARTH DAY 2010: Being Stewards of the Earth



Being Stewards of the Earth

Monte Holland

     Today is Earth Day’s fortieth year.

     The first earth day was celebrated on April 20, 1970, when we lived in the Borough of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. That year, Slippery Rock residents with foresight decided that the time had come to start a community recycling program. Within the year I was participating.

      Before we rehabbed an old barn in the Slippery Rock Community Park, recyclers in the area dropped off bags of recyclables at an outbuilding on the property. 

     We gathered used barrels, in which to sort glass, cans, and aluminum, from Armco Steel Corporation (today, AK Steel). Much time was devoted to the sorting, which included breaking glass and crushing cans to conserve space in the barrels. With the help of the Grove City unit of the Pennsylvania National Guard, and the U-Haul International, Inc., we transported glass to Clarion and metal to Neville Island, which produced enough money to meet our expenses.

     The center also recycled newspapers, many of which were used by farmers for animal bedding.

     We didn’t accomplish a (more…)

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