The Atlantic County Utilities Authority offers a fun Earth Day Festival every year at their Delilah Rd. location in Egg Harbor Township, NJ. There’s a ton of vendors, demonstrations, kids activities, and the coolest thing of all, a tour of their recycling plant. ACUA established a nationally recognized system to recycle, compost and dispose of solid waste in 1990, but has been around since the late 1960’s as a facility for wastewater management. Through collecting and reusing gas, utilizing wind turbines, and having solar panels installed, the facility produces enough energy to power the entire Environmental Park, plus have excess that is used to power area homes and businesses.

When we first arrived we took a stroll around their nature trail and garden, then made our way through the exhibitor tents surrounding the plant. Free giveaways, yoga, shuttle tours, and hayrides were just some of the activities going on outside, while inside the plant we were able to check out more demonstrations, Insectropolis, recycled art displays, and the tour. You are on your own to walk through the observatory bridge, and stay as long as you like viewing the continuous activity. To the left are piles of items to be processed, and to the right are the various magnets, conveyor belts and compactors used to make movable bales once items are sorted. There were also rats the size of kittens scavenging through the huge mounds awaiting sorting…we all were staring in fascination with equal parts amusement and revulsion.

I don’t know that I would rush to do a recycling or waste management tour again, but I’m happy we at least went to one. It was fascinating to see everything that goes on behind the scenes to make our earth a better home for our children, and the generations to come. It also put things into perspective as to why it is so important to limit our waste to begin with. We should train ourselves to bring in our own reusable bags to stores, recycle all that can be recycled, and turn off the water and lights when not in mandatory use…we should also carpool, not use harmful chemicals, and dispose of electronics in the correct way. It’s the least we can do as we take for granted the earth’s supply of sustainable life for our greedy consumption.

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