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Recycling becomes focus in McDonough County initiative

Every year in America, 22 million tons of household recyclables go to landfills, become litter, or pollute our waterways. McDonough County is not immune to this challenge, but a committee of concerned citizens is exploring ways to address this local concern. Recycling could conserve resources and help communities preserve our environment, save water, and curtail carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. 

A recent survey of McDonough County residents showed that 94 percent of the respondents agreed that recycling is good for the community. However, 54 percent of those surveyed said they do not personally have the information they need about local recycling options.

“This is a beginning of an initiative to improve recycling options for all McDonough County regional residents and businesses,” explained JoAnn Hairston-Jones of the Macomb Woman’s Club. The local club is part of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, an international women’s organization dedicated to community improvement through volunteer service. 

In the fall of 2019, the Macomb Woman’s Club established a committee to explore McDonough County recycling. The committee, chaired by Hairston-Jones and Susan DiGrino, includes community partners representing University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, Western Illinois Regional Council, and the McDonough County Health Department. The survey itself was created with assistance from Illinois Extension educators Carrie McKillip, community and economic development, and Chris Enroth, horticulture.

After a pause due to COVID-19, the survey was conducted late spring and summer of 2021 with 534 county residents and businesses responding. It was a convenience sampling depending on those who attended canvassing events like the 4-H barbecue and Macomb Heritage Days. 

Of this sample, 27.4 percent reported having no access to recycling services; 83 percent said they would use a recycling facility at least once a month, and 81 percent were willing to pay for household hazardous waste disposal.

“Managing household and business waste conserves natural resources and reduces pollution in our rural areas,” states Enroth. “Recycling also creates jobs,” explains McKillip. “Incinerating 10,000 tons of waste creates one job. Landfilling the same amount creates six jobs. But recycling that amount creates 36 jobs.”

Survey results have been shared with the McDonough County Board’s Law and Legal committee and with the Macomb Mayor’s office. The Recycling Committee is exploring recycling options for our county, potential drop off locations, and grant opportunities. Potential partners or interested citizens are encouraged to join those wishing to address this economic and environmental concern. You may do so by calling the McDonough County Extension Office. View the full survey results.


ABOUT GENERAL FEDERATION OF WOMEN’S CL UB: The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is an international women’s organization dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service. GFWC members work in their own communities to support the arts, preserve natural resources, advance education, promote healthy lifestyles, encourage civic involvement, and work toward world peace and understanding.

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.