County Spotlight: Anderson County

RobBy: Rob Gates
Outreach Specialist
Bluegrass Greensource

Over the past year, Bluegrass Greensource has taken steps to expand our outreach and impact in one of our western most neighbors: Anderson County. These efforts began in earnest, with a multiyear a partnership with Republic Services to assist in the roll out and continuing education for the county’s new and improved curbside recycling program. 


In early 2016, Bluegrass Greensource hosted a community forum bringing together a diverse group of local stakeholders to determine the best path forward for the new program. Since that initial meeting, Bluegrass Greensource has undertaken various education initiatives in local schools and the community to promote and educate residents about the new recycling program. These efforts have included hands-on activities at area schools, informational tabling at community events, presentations for local civic groups and businesses, and development of education materials for residents. One of the most noteworthy initiatives was a recycling themed art contest at Emma B Ward Elementary where the winner artwork was used to wrap the county’s new recycling truck!

Building upon relationships developed through the recycling program, Bluegrass Greensource has begun to move forward with partners in Anderson County on a variety of other projects as well. Staff are currently working with the Junior Conservation District to coordinate litter cleanup efforts as a participant in Bluegrass Greensource’s annual Main Street Clean Sweep. In addition, we have taken steps to partner with the City of Lawrenceburg and local businesses to provide support for environmental educational programming for local residents. We are excited about the work we have accomplished thus far and eager to see our partnerships and impact continue to grow in years to come.


Greater Lexington Apartment Association – Sustainability in Multi-Family Residential Dwellings

Bluegrass Greensource has been invited to talk about sustainability at the Greater Lexington Apartment Association (GLAA) General Membership Meeting in September. Attendees will learn about easy to implement, sustainable strategies to lower utility expenses, attract clientele, gain a competitive advantage, and improve their triple bottom line of profit, people, and planet. The presentation will include information on:

  • Energy Efficiency
  • Water Conservation
  • Recycling Programs
  • Tenant Education
  • Highlight of Free Tools & Resources that can help implement green initiatives.

The meeting is open to GLAA members.

WHEN: Tuesday, September 22nd |  11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
WHERE: Doubletree Suites, 2601 Richmond Rd, Lexington, KY 40509
COST: $32 per person | Two or more people $30 per person

REGISTRATION: Register through GLAA at:


PRESS RELEASE: Bluegrass Greensource receives $50,000 grant from Walmart


CONTACT: Tiffany Smith, 859/797-0324

 Bluegrass Greensource receives $50,000 grant from Walmart

Winchester, Ky., September 30, 2014 –The campaign to promote environmental responsibility through recycling in Central Kentucky schools received a boost today through the presentation of a $50,000 contribution from the Walmart Foundation to Bluegrass Greensource.

“Bluegrass Greensource is excited to once again partner with Walmart, to expand the Wastebuster program to more schools in Central Kentucky,” said Bluegrass Greensource Executive Director Amy Sohner at an event at Conkwright Elementary School. “We look forward to working with all of the schools in Boyle, Clark and Madison Counties to help increase recycling rates and teach students and families the importance of waste reduction. Thank you very much to Walmart for giving us this opportunity.”

Bluegrass Greensource will use the contribution to increase student knowledge of waste reduction issues in Central Kentucky. Experiential environmental education about recycling and waste reduction can be taught in three main content areas: practical living, social studies and science.

In addition to education students, Walmart’s contribution will be used to provide classroom bins and rolling carts to facilitate recycling in each school.  It will also enable Greensource educators to work with students to perform two waste audits in each school – one before the program is implemented and one afterward.  Also, grants of up to $500 will be awarded for projects that will help the schools continue their recycling and waste reduction programs after the initial grant period is over.

“At Walmart, our community involvement is based on the philosophy of operating globally and giving back locally,” said Walmart Store Manager Shannon Willoughby. “We believe we can do the most good by supporting issues and causes that are important to our customers and associates in their own neighborhoods – including programs that stress environmental sustainability and incorporating green practices into every day life. We are pleased this donation to Bluegrass Greensource will enable the Wastebusters Program to expand into Boyle, Clark and Madison counties and look forward to following its success.”

Bluegrass Greensource is an environmental, non-profit organization that has offered resources and educational information to Central Kentucky since 2001. Greensource provides outreach to over 230 schools, 600 community groups, businesses, local governments and private citizens throughout Central Kentucky. Encouraging small, every day changes that make a big difference, the organization fosters positive environmental and economic impact throughout the region. For more information please visit

About Philanthropy at Walmart

 Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are committed to helping people live better through philanthropic efforts. By operating globally and giving back locally, Walmart is uniquely positioned to address the needs of the communities it serves and make a significant social impact within its core areas of giving: Hunger Relief & Healthy Eating, Sustainability, Career Opportunity and Women’s Economic Empowerment. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are leading the fight against hunger in the United States with a $2 billion commitment through 2015. Walmart has donated more than 1 billion meals to those in need across the country. To learn more about Walmart’s giving, visit




Bluegrass Greensource uses Walmart grant to promote school recycling in three counties

Walmart has given Bluegrass Greensource a $50,000 grant to help promote more recycling and waste reduction in schools in three Kentucky counties – Boyle, Clark and Madison.

The program has existed for a number of years in six other counties – Anderson, Fayette, Garrard, Jessamine, Lincoln, and Mercer – and been responsible, according to Bluegrass Greensource, for improved student state test scores, an increase in the rate of recycling, and significant financial savings. Fayette County schools estimated they saved $50,000 on their waste removal budget through the pilot program. Another county reports a 40 percent reduction in their landfill-bound waste.

Priorities for the program include increasing student understanding for the need to reduce waste and increase recycling. This is to be achieved, according to Greensource, by working with classrooms, cafeterias, custodians, and administrators on five elements including waste audits; provision of recycling equipment and materials; offering age-specific hands-on activities aligned with Common Core; providing a Manual for Waste Reduction; and helping schools apply for mini-grants to implement school-specific waste reduction initiatives.

Conkwright Elementary in Clark County will host an official launch of this year’s program on Tuesday, Sept. 30, during which students will participate in a school-wide waste audit and complete recycling lessons. Present at the launch will be the mayor of Winchester, the Clark County judge executive, the school superintendent, representatives from participating schools, the Clark County solid waste coordinator, and representatives from Winchester Municipal Utilities.

This post appeared in KY Forward on September 29, 2014.


Why are some things recyclable and others are not? It’s all about economics

Many people recycle, but I often wonder how much we understand about WHY we recycle.

Recycling is about more than just keeping things out of the landfill, although that is a big part of the reason why we do it. What I find most interesting is not the WHY to recycle, but WHY certain things are recyclable and others are not. The answer is invariably economics.
1 recycle thumb

In Lexington, we can recycle all colored glass (wine bottles, jelly jars) but not Pyrex or ceramic plates; we can recycle plastic bottles and jugs but not yogurt or peanut butter containers; we can recycle most paper, including junk mail and colored copy paper, but not wrapping paper. It does not always make sense.

Everything is recyclable; it just may not be recyclable in our community. The most common comment I get is that if the container has a recycling symbol on the bottom, it must be recyclable. And that is, in part, true – it just depends on which community you are talking about. In Lexington, we have the volume and infrastructure in place to process and sell plastic bottles and jugs. The numbers on the bottom, in the middle of the recycling symbol, are actually code for the plastic industry, and not for the recyclers, and they generally don’t tell you whether an item can be recycled.

Again, it all goes back to economics. Is the item able to be easily separated from all of the other recyclables? Is the item able to be sold at a rate that surpasses the expense of shipping it to its destination? These are the most important questions that dictate whether an item can be recycled in a particular area.

A good example is glass. Glass, even when crushed, is very expensive to haul. It is easily made into new products, but for the most part, it is more expensive to ship it to a plant that takes used glass and makes new bottles than it is to send it to a landfill. In Lexington, we generally pulverize our glass and use it in road bed material, which makes the most economic sense locally.

Plastic is another good example. There is a great market for No. 1 and No. 2 plastics that take the form of a bottle or jug (water bottles, shampoo bottle, milk jugs). This means that the plastic that was used to make those materials was blown into a mold (glass) rather than injected into a mold (Starbucks cup or yogurt container). This makes the plastic more marketable and more marketable means that municipal sorting facilities have the chance to make their money back after sorting and baling these plastics.

Aluminum is the easy one. Aluminum cans (soda, beer) are the most recyclable container available. Most products can be recycled into something that is of lesser value than it started out as. For example, nice white copy paper can be recycled into newsprint which can then be recycled into toilet paper (The process stops there, thankfully!). Aluminum cans can be made into another can and then another and another, which helps keep the price of a bale of aluminum cans at a premium. Cans from Lexington, and from much of the state, go to Novellis in Berea, one of the largest aluminum smelters in the country.

Cardboard is another item that is easily recyclable – that is that it is easy to make into other useful products and it is fairly light/easy to ship. Cardboard from Lexington goes to a paper mill in Maysville to be made into new corrugated cardboard boxes. However, refrigerated boxes (soft drink boxes, pizza boxes) cannot be recycled. These have little bits of plastic impregnated between the layers of boxboard that make recycling harder and therefore less economically viable.

There are a few places in the United States that can recycle almost everything. Some even mandate recycling and food waste composting. We are far from that in Lexington, but I think it is helpful to understand why some things can be recycled here and others cannot. It may help us all understand how we can affect our waste stream.

Next time you are at the grocery store, think about how what you are buying will affect your trash can. Can you buy in bulk to reduce the amount sent to the landfill? Can you buy a gallon milk jug that can be recycled instead of a half-gallon that has to be sent to the garbage? Can you reuse the bag that held your bread instead of throwing it away? Because to-go coffee containers cannot be recycled, can you bring your own mug and maybe even save a few cents?

We all have the ability to effect great change in our local community. Knowing how and what and why to recycle is one very important way to start. Talk to your local solid waste coordinator, or click here to find out what can be recycled in Lexington.
1 Amy-Sohner

Amy Sohner is executive director of Greensource and a graduate of the University of Kentucky. Sohner has worked with Greensource since its inception in 2002 and is a Certified Environmental Educator. She is involved with the Kentucky Environmental Literacy Alliance, the Bluegrass Rain Garden Alliance, the Licking and Kentucky River Basin Teams, and serves as vice-chair of the Keep Lexington Beautiful Commission. Sohner lives near the Kentucky River palisades with her husband, two daughters and a multitude of pets.

This article appeared in KY Forward on September 4, 2014.


NCAA ‘green’ tournament helps all environmental efforts go more mainstream

I like basketball. Ok, maybe not quite as much as you do, assuming you live in Kentucky and are obsessed with the #BBN (Big Blue Nation) – which took me longer than I care to admit to figure out what it stood for, but I can definitely get into a game, and even find myself jumping up from the couch in glee at three-pointers.

I call myself a social fan, because I find it wonderful to watch University of Kentucky basketball with a group of people all shouting at the TV, but am not sure I would watch a game by myself.

While the rest of the state, and honestly the nation, are obsessed with brackets, I thought it would be interesting to see how “green” the NCAA tournament is going to be this year. For my part, I am going to save a tree and my $2 by not filling out a bracket this year.

For the “green research,” I thought I would stick with the Final Four. Mostly because we (by which I mean UK, because for all things basketball I look to UK, my alma mater, and because I know nothing about any other team) have a better chance than we did last year to get to the Final Four. It helps to actually be IN the tournament.

It turns out that there is a lot going on this year to make the championship weekend more sustainable, and these initiatives have been going on for some time.

In 2011, Reliant Stadium purchased 600 additional recycling containers (one paired with each trash container) which allowed them to recycle 10 tons of material, purchased carbon credits to offset their energy usage and they even played PSA’s about their efforts to the 75,000 fans.

Last year, the Georgia Dome in Atlanta expanded their sustainability efforts beyond just the stadium. As part of the initiative leading up to the weekend activities, the city hosted an electronic recycling opportunity that resulted in 14,000 pounds of old electronics being recycled. They also placed community recycling trailers throughout the city and collected more than 4 tons of material just from the foot traffic from the games. The total recyclables recovered from all of the venues related to the three-day event were more than 33 tons.

The 2013 Final Four was also unique in that it made a recycling symbol just for the sustainability initiative and turned the banners used throughout the events into more than 1,000 tote bags.

This year, the Kay Bailey Hutchison convention Center in Texas will compost for the first time, as well as donate all of the extra food to local charities. All of the events will offer recycling, and the local community will display public art pieces throughout the city made out of recycled material. There is also an increased effort to promote public transportation, and a special basketball court made out of recycled materials will be donated to a local community center.

I am very impressed and happy about the effort that the NCAA and the communities are putting into reducing the environmental effect the championship can have on the local environment. What I hope is that they shout from the rooftops about their efforts. The more people and organizations showcase their environmental work, the more it becomes mainstream and the more mainstream environmental efforts become, the more impact we can have as a community.

We, in Central Kentucky, are poised to make environmental and sustainable practices the mainstream as we plan and build our new basketball facility. I look forward to what the leaders of the project propose to make recycling, composting, energy efficiency and water quality part of the design instead of an add-on later.

While I am waiting, I will cheer as loud as I can on Friday (assuming I can stay up that late), and as the Cats proceed through the tournament.


1 Amy-Sohner

Amy Sohner is executive director of Greensource and a graduate of the University of Kentucky in Natural Resource Conservation and Management. Sohner has worked with Greensource since its inception in 2002 and is a Certified Environmental Educator. She is involved with the Kentucky Environmental Literacy Alliance, the Bluegrass Rain Garden Alliance, the Licking and Kentucky River Basin Teams, and serves as vice-chair of the Keep Lexington Beautiful Commission. Sohner lives near the Kentucky River palisades with her husband, two daughters and a multitude of pets.

This article appeared in KY Forward on March 20, 2014.


Bluegrass Greensource Staff Tour Rumpke Facility

A group from Bluegrass Greensource had the pleasure of touring the Rumpke Material Recovery Facility in Cincinnati, Ohio on February 19th.  Each day Rumpke takes in tons of unsorted recycling and uses some very skilled people and amazing technology to sort everything that makes its way into the facility.   When Rumpke’s old recycling facility burned to the ground in 2012, they committed to building a bigger, better, more efficient facility. This new facility includes six optical scanners, two electromagnetic eddy currents, hundreds of spinning discs as well as nearly 100 employees to sort 500 tons of material daily. Rumpke isn’t stopping there; they hope to have the facility running 24/7 and bring the facility up to maximum sorting capacity.

If you would like to schedule a tour of Rumpke, please visit

rumpke1Rumpke Tour Guide gives Deputy Director Maxine Rudder, Development and PR Coordinator Chris Clabes, and Board Member Babette Overman an overview of the sorting process from the observation deck.














Tour guide explains how the many spinning discs separate out the plastic bottles while the cardboard slides across the top of the discs.














This Optical Scanner separates out cartons and plastic bottles from the other recyclables.


Local Apartment: New Look, New Outlook for Recycling

100 chevy chase apptsMany things are new at 100 Chevy Chase Apartment Homes- a new name, management, look, and now the shift to become a “greener” home for its residents. Located at 100 Lakeshore Drive the apartment homes just off Richmond Road are visibly different due to new paint and the placement of many blue Rosie recycling containers. Less visible are the changes inside the complex.

With Community Manager Jason Whitehouse at the helm, the complex is taking steps to become a greener apartment complex. Bluegrass Greensource and LFUCG were invited to their first holiday party on Dec. 19 to discuss recycling, energy efficiency, and water conservation with residents as part of the LiveGreenLexington Partner program. Over 20 residents stopped by and learned about services offered to them and opportunities to live a bit greener in 2014.

Plans to create a comprehensive recycling program and the formation of a green team will begin in 2014 as more residents move into the complex. An October 2013 stream cleanup for the creek running alongside the Richmond Road side of the property was successful and future stream clean-ups are likely. Whitehouse hopes the space alongside the creek will be utilized by tenants looking to enjoy a bit of nature in the city instead of the creek merely existing as a backdrop. The creek affords the possibility for environmental education opportunities for young tenants like macro-invertebrate outdoor days and storm water education. These efforts will not only help the complex become greener, but will also build a sense of community with residents – something Whitehouse strongly supports.

Bluegrass Greensource is here to assist those seeking to create a recycling program or make their apartments greener.  Nearly every apartment complex has a group of residents interested in minimizing their ecological footprint. The key is finding this group of engaged, participatory residents and showing them how best to utilize their skills and time. Site specifics, resident participation, and the community’s desires are incorporated into any recycling program to maximize success.

The LiveGreenLexington Partner program, sponsored by LFUCG and managed by Bluegrass Greensource, offers assistance to businesses and apartment complexes in reducing waste and starting or expanding a recycling program, conserving energy and improving water quality.  If you know of, or manage an apartment complex and would like to see changes to your recycling and green mission, contact us at Bluegrass Greensource for no-cost assistance (859)266-1572.


ReStore Paint Recycling

Whether it’s a fall clean-up or a complete remodel, you might find yourself with gallons of extra paint.  Luckily, Lexington’s own ReStore offers a novel paint recycling program as an alternative to the landfill or an overstuffed garage.

The only program of its kind in Lexington, ReStore’s paint recycling program is in its 188th batch; meaning that nearly 10,400 gallons of paint have been saved from the landfill according to Deconstruction Project Manager, Michael Frey.

ReStore Paint 3

(Pictured to the left:  Michael Frey and Katie Clay)

The paint recycling program was started in 2010 when staff noticed gallons of partially-full donated gallons of paint were not selling and they were starting to amass quite a collection.

“Why not consolidate it?” they thought.  Initial attempts at mixing were focused on keeping like finishes together- satins with satins, flats with flats.  Today, paints are mixed by similar colors and the end product retains a mostly satin finish, which is water resistant and easy to clean.  Landlords, some of the paint recycling program’s most devoted customers, love the quality of the paint.  Katie Clay, a ReStore employee, shared her own personal experience, “I used two coats in my living room and it was a really nice light blue-green color.”

The paint recycling program is part of ReStore’s larger Deconstruction Program which also salvages construction materials on-site and collects scrap metals. Full and part-time employees churn out roughly two batches a week, which is roughly 100 gallons of paint that becomes recycled product. Two, 55 gallon barrels serve as the site of mixing and filtering. Batches are poured into 5 gallon buckets that sell for $35 each, complete with “home brewed” in Lexington labels created by another local business, Bullhorn Creative. White and off-white have proven the best-selling colors so far.

ReStore Paint 4Restore Paint 1

Jake Brown (left) and Tatum Lewis (right) demonstrate the recycling process.

Volunteers can also get in on the fun. University of Kentucky student groups, schools, and environmental groups have created their own paint batches, complete with catchy names. “Blue Your Mind,” “OMGreen,” “Pretty in Purplish,” “A-maize-ing Yellow,” and “Check me out, I’m Buff” are just a few of the gems.  While seemingly unappealing, “The Milk’s Gone Bad,” a grayish-white turned out to be a great seller. One group from the County Attorney’s Office spent a day moving furniture only to return for an afternoon of paint mixing. Their color creation? “Prosecutor Purple,” of course. “Volunteers are welcome and it doesn’t take a lot of training” says Michael. “A group of six volunteers can create a barrel of paint in around four hours.” School children aged 16 and over can volunteer with an adult 18 or older to operate the mixing drill.


Checklist for recycling your paint at ReStore:

  • It must have been made between 1994-present.
  • It has never been frozen.
  • Paint must be in its original container.
  • It must be latex. (Non-latex or other paints not accepted by ReStore can be made landfill-ready by adding cat litter, dirt, paint thickening crystals, or sawdust. Place beside the Herbie with the lid loosely attached on collection day.)

To set up volunteer visits, contact the ReStore Volunteer Coordinator Catherine Trout at or call 859-252-2224, ext-150.