NEW LEXINGTON — Perry County Waste Reduction & Recycling program is in its sixth year of offering a unique project to Perry County High School students! The “Defining REUSE Today Compared to Yesterday” Oral History Essay Scholarship Project had seven entries this school year.

Local organizations donated $2,800 to provide scholarships including the American Legions of Junction City, New Lexington, Somerset, Thornville, PC Community Club, Eagles, Elks, PerCo, Inc., Somerset Artists Co-op, Thornville Seniors and Tunnel Hill Landfill.

Three local students came out on top this year. They are Grace Baker (first place $1,500) New Lexington High School; Natalie Dunn (second place $800) New Lexington High School; and PJ Marolt (third place $500) Crooksville High School.

This has become an annual scholarship project in which teachers and students look forward to participate. This intergenerational project is meeting the Perry County Waste Reduction & Recycling outreach education goals in a positive way as it continues to grow and raise awareness about the issues of waste, reuse, recycling and litter.

Students are challenged to seek out an elder person in their community who remembers life in the 30’s, 40’s or 50’s, get their perspective on REUSE and living a more sustainable lifestyle, record the interview, then write a 300-word essay relating what they learned from the conversation. This is done in partnership with the Perry County District Library and Perry County Historical Society. The essays will be on display at the District Library and at each high school. They are also on Perry County Waste Reduction & Recycling’s website and social media sites! All recordings are archived on the library website ( for all posterity.

Take a moment to read their essays and listen to their recorded conversations. There is so much to learn from listening to our elders. People can gain from the wisdom of their past insights; from a time when sustainable living habits governed what food was on the table and clothes you had to wear. We are talking about a time in our past when most people had so little, but yet, had all they needed without overuse and waste of resources.

The depression era phrase “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” is a wise ethic we each should embrace today and into the future.

Submitted by: Katrina Carpenter, Perry County Waste Reduction & Recycling, 740-342-7881

By Grace Baker, New Lexington High School Sophomore

For some, recycling is nothing more than a chore that is not worth the hassle. However, for others like my great uncle, it was the only option. I interviewed my great uncle David Finck who grew up as the youngest in a family of farmers. Before talking with my uncle, I had no idea how different recycling was in our world back then. However, I now have a completely new perspective on how important reusing is for our world today.

When I asked how they made do with what they had when he was a child, he stated, “Most of what we ate was grown here on the farm.”

Additionally, he said because he was the youngest, he wore mostly hand-me-downs. While people today may think it was unfortunate to not have new clothes, my uncle was proud of this. He also stated that his family believed nothing was to be thrown away; it could always be “repaired if it was broken.” Not only was this perspective beneficial for the environment, but it allowed his family to value and be more appreciative of what they had.

As a child, I knew that it was my family’s priority to recycle, but never truly understood why. Having this insight on how happy my uncle was to reuse as much as he could has inspired me to be thankful for what I have been given and make an effort to reuse what I can in an attempt to save our world. I hope that my uncle David’s advice will be a lesson to everyone on how important it is to make the most of what we have. Our generation has the power to save our Earth, but we have to work together, learning from the past and bettering ourselves for the future!

By Natalie Dunn, New Lexington High School Senior

I had the pleasure of interviewing my 80-year-old grandmother, Ruth Sullivan. Discussing all of the creative ways my grandmother was able to reuse during her childhood gave me a completely new perspective on using the three R’s in my daily routine. This scholarship opportunity has taught me something that money could never buy, learning that I need to protect my planet in any way possible.

My grandmother began by saying how her mother used old cloth feed bags that held the cows feed. “My Mom would get the pretty pieces and make me a dress, or she would make her apron, or pillowcases, or whatever she could out of them.”

I have made pillow cases out of old t-shirts before so I knew how to reuse cloth, but it never occurred to me to use it this way. My grandmother also mentioned how her mother would “darn her socks” when they had a hole in them. Outside of the interview my grandmother and I discussed how she only had one pair of shoes and if they had a hole in the sole, her mother would replace it with cardboard. Listening to my grandmother discuss how her family reused everything possible has inspired me to do the same.

Interviewing my grandmother has given me valuable time with her, but also a new definition of the word reuse. I learned that you can use one item and transform it into something completely different. I plan to reuse and recycle more in my life now more than ever. I recycle plastics and pop cans but I now realize that is not enough. I am capable of accomplishing much more in order to protect the environment. I am genuinely grateful for the information I was able to learn from my crafty grandmother.

By P. J. Marolt, Crooksville High School Senior

“Recycling is really important,” according to my Grandad, a dairy farmer from Belleville, West Virginia. Currently setting at 73 years old, he’s lived a long life so far. Along with that he’s witnessed a lot about the ever-changing times we live in, and for him the way the world recycles is a lot different too.

Growing up his family didn’t produce much waste living on a farm. They didn’t produce much waste because they used up everything they ever bought or made. He elaborated a bit saying his mom, “would use old blue jeans and shirts to patch their other ones with.”

Anything reusable was used for something that would help improve their life. On the slim chance they had any trash, they’d burn it or throw it in the hollow, which they barely had anything like that anyway. When it comes to waste today, he says that there are way more household goods that are thrown away now, more than ever. Back then, they didn’t ever throw any of that stuff away, because they barely and any in the first place.

He continued on, saying that landfills are absolutely full of them. He joked that when he was a kid, he didn’t even know what a landfill was, and now they’re filling up the country! He does truly appreciate recycling because it makes what potentially can be reused, reusable. Also, this, more or less, keeps our oceans clean and keeps trash away from more landfills.

His views on recycling have truly made me see why reusing is one of the most important aspects of recycling and how beneficial of a practice it can be to develop. I hope people learn from my Granddad and seriously consider recycling more, because, if my Granddad thinks it’s important, it is.

Project sponsored by: Perry County Waste Reduction & Recycling

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