Story and photos by MCSN Ange Oliver Clement, PAO, NAF Atsugi
Atsugi, Japan - (May 2, 2019) Environmental awareness is an ideal that has grown exponentially in the last few years as individuals all over the world have realized the impact they have on the planet. One of the most common initiatives undertaken to better the environment is recycling. In Japan recycling is deeply entrenched in the culture as it has been part of Japanese law since the 1990s.
Here on Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi the Public Works Department Environmental Division is trying to do its part and educate all residents on the base on the importance of recycling. To do so, the department held a weeklong series of events as a part of Earth week.
The first event of earth week occurred on Monday, April 22, with an Earth Day poster contest at Shirley Lanham Elementary School. “The contest was designed to teach kids the importance of recycling,” said Christopher L. Carson, the Environmental Engineer. “The theme of this year’s contest was reduce, re-use, and recycle.” The winners’ posters were then put on display in the food court at the NEX on base.
The following Wednesday, there was a household hazardous waste drop off at housing self-help center, which raises awareness of services located on base that people may not be aware of. For example, the self-help center is a place where people may bring any common household hazardous materials that may have some dangerous aspect to them and should not be thrown away 13 along with other trash to be disposed of. You can call them 264-2593.
The weeks’ events were capped off that Friday by having booths set up for various environmental programs which included a recycling game and information. A base wide clean-up contest happened which asked people to clean up trash all around the base ahead of the typhoon season and then to be brought to the department to be weighed and the top three received prizes.
“One of the things I want to get out there is that what we do to the environment with our trash hurts us in the long run,” said Valerie Vernier, the Natural, Cultural Resources and Pesticides Compliance Manager. “Anything that goes into any storm drain makes it into nature and then we are going behind it and eating the fish that come out of that same water.”
To make sure that this cycle is broken and people truly start understanding how big of an impact they have on the environment the environmental division felt that it was important to start the education at an early age.
“Recycling for me is more about protecting our environment for our own future, that’s why we are going to the school,” said Vernier. “Our main goal is to teach the young who will then go home and teach their families, retrain the old and reduce the amount of trash out there.”
With the effort put on this week, the environmental division spent a week promoting awareness, so people will pay more attention to their actions and the environment and remind everyone that they are always available to answer any question or assist with recycling if needed.