March 20, 2013

Liz Swafford: Recycling Ben advances to The Final Four

— What a way to start the week! I was greeted early Monday morning with the news that our local recycling mascot Recycling Ben has advanced to The Final Four in this year’s Mascot Madness competition hosted by trade publication Waste and Recycling News. Thank you so much for your votes over the last several weeks at

Recycling Ben entered the competition as one of 16 eco-friendly mascots from across the country. The competition was set up in the style of the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament, with each mascot being paired up against another mascot for a total of eight matchups in a bracket. The winner of each matchup is determined by the public casting votes online for their favorites.

Here’s the description that accompanies Recycling Ben’s picture on the bracket sheet: “The mascot for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority’s Target Recycling Program is sporting an unusually large chin and an unusually strong game. He spreads the word about recycling and may leave competitors face-down in a blue bin.”

During round one, Recycling Ben beat a mascot named Zero Hero from California and advanced to the Elite Eight. In round two, our local recycling representative was matched up against mascot Tommy Tomorrow from Illinois. Some 1,700 votes were tallied and Recycling Ben advanced to The Final Four by just 58 votes. Now he’s competing against a hard hat-wearing turtle named Scrappy from Indiana for a spot in the championship.

Voting for the Final Four is open until Tuesday, March 26, at midnight at through a short two-question survey. You can vote for Recycling Ben multiple times a day, every day. I know I’m going to vote every day, too. Good luck, Recycling Ben! We’re crossing our fingers so you’ll advance to the championship round.


World Water Day is Friday

Friday is World Water Day, a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The theme for this year is the International Year of Water Cooperation. Visit to learn more about the events taking place around the world and to download free educational materials.

Go to the youth and kids section to download the full color poster about the water cycle. Use it at home or school to learn about how water changes states and recycles itself on our planet. The United States Geological Survey and the United Nations Water Communications team developed this new poster that includes a lot of neat facts about water.

You can celebrate World Water Day this year by simply learning more about the water cycle and implementing one way to conserve water at home. For example, run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons a month. Or, water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation.


Earth Hour 2013 is Saturday

Saturday at 8:30 p.m. you can join thousands of people around the world as they turn off their lights for an hour as a massive show of concern for the environment. What started as a symbolic action about 10 years ago has evolved into a movement driving real actions, big and small, that are making positive changes in the world we live in. Turning off your lights is very simple to do and has an immediate impact in energy conservation. But it’s also an acknowledgment that we all share this one planet and its limited resources.

You can participate this year by taking the Earth Hour 2013 Pledge at the World Wildlife Fund website which is leading the program in the U.S. this year: Or visit to learn more about the movement and see what other countries are doing to participate. If you don’t want to turn off the lights you can also try different changes like recycling more or planting native trees at home. Small actions from many people will add up to a big, positive impact.

Liz Swafford is the recycling and education program coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority. Contact her at (706) 278-5001 or at