4-year-old into recycling

  • Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jim Tatum/Journal Scene Emily Hiott, 4, with her special recycling bin.


Emily Hiott is living proof that big things often come in small packages.

The four-year-old recently learned about recycling from her “MiMi” – her grandmother Victoria Coonrod – and has become quite the practicing advocate.

“I think she got so interested because I recycle a lot and I do it consistently,” Coonrod said. “She has her own recycling bin and she does a great job. She’s very outgoing and social – she’ll tell you what she’s thinking.”

She can tell you what is recyclable and an easy way to tell, Coonrod said.

“Look for the triangle,” Emily says.

The triangle Emily refers to is the universal symbol that is printed on all recyclable packaging. If an item does not have the triangle, it is not recyclable. Emily has learned a lot not only about recycling itself, but why it is so important.

Soon Emily became so enthusiastic about recycling that she started getting after her parents about it, going through their trash to find recyclables and pointing out objects to recycle rather than just throw away.

“She saw her daddy about to throw a plastic water bottle in the trash can and she stopped him and told him to put it in the recycling bin,” Veronica Hiott said. “She does that a lot.”

She even will tell strangers about recycling, given a chance to do so, Hiott said.

At first, these admonishments from a pint sized eco-warrior were amusing, but then something interesting and important happened, Hiott said.

“We found that our trash output has gone down a lot,” she said. “We used to take out a roller can once a week crammed full. Now we can almost go two weeks without having to take it to the curb – but we’re putting out at least two recycle bins a week.”

That’s 104 recycle bins a year full of items, from plastic bottles to paper and cardboard, that will not wind up in a landfill.

“This is just one child, one little girl, who is doing this,” Coonrod said. “Imagine what other children are doing or could be doing.

“Let’s face it, that generation is the one that will be doing it – my generation just wasn’t taught that much about it.

“I want to leave a better Earth for my grandchildren – I can’t do anything about wars but I can do my part to make a cleaner environment,” she added.

Emily agrees.

“I like recycling because it helps save the earth,” she said.

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