Disposable Income: Recycle Man talks trash at MadFest
Story by Whitney Skeeters
Photographs by Angelina Bellebuono
Graphic representation by Katie Davis
Standing 7 feet tall, he reminds us of our civic duties to the community, future generations and to the very earth we live on. He is a symbol of Morgan County’s dedication to progress, what citizens in the community have accomplished so far and the goals for the future. He is…made entirely out of trash.
Recyclable trash that is. Recycle Man is the creation of local artists Dan and Linda Thoman. He will make his debut at Madison Fest on Saturday, April 25, and is meant to remind locals of the importance of recycling. Those who pass by the booth that Saturday will be invited to help complete the sculpture by placing pieces of recyclable trash on Recycle Man. Dan Thoman, a retired engineer for the Environmental Protection Agency, has been sculpting for 15 years, working with wood, stone, and most recently, metal. He has been building Recycle Man since the beginning of the year using parts of a rusted grill, baling wire, old rebar, and other metals.
Thoman just finished a new addition to the Madison Fest display: Recycle Man’s best friend, a cheerful pup made out of tomato cages.
Thoman came up with the idea for the project with his wife, Linda, who is the volunteer facilitator of Keep Morgan Beautiful. Linda said Keep Morgan Beautiful was looking for a community art project everyone could take part in that would spread awareness about promoting a healthy environment in Morgan County. The “art in the moment” will be a statement of the importance of recycling.
“He’s going to be fun and cheerful,” Linda said. “There’s a massive amount of products that we use that need to be recycled. We can’t turn them all into sculptures, but the idea is that there are a lot of things to recycle.”
She is not sure where Recycle Man will go after Madisonfest, but hopes he will be able to travel around the community to various groups and events spreading excitement about recycling. He is a particularly helpful visual aid to children, who tend to be more receptive to changing their habits.
The sad truth is that most families could make a Recycle Man of their own in less than a week. The average American discards roughly seven and a half pounds of garbage a day, according to Morgan County’s Recycling Center. As all of this trash is packed into landfills, it seems more like a recycle monster.
Morgan County has made huge strides in recycling according to Linda. She said the county increased recycling by 37 percent last year, beating out every other municipality, many of which are larger than Morgan, that sends recycling to Athens-Clarke County.
Linda pointed out that the increase in recycling did not happen accidentally. She has seen many community members changing their habits and hopes the county will continue on this track of progress.
“We still have a long way to go, but I can see that we’re heading in the right direction,” Linda said.
Recycle Man will be part of Keep Morgan Beautiful’s informational booth at Madison Fest, and he could not have picked a better year to participate. The 2009 festival will have a eco-friendly theme that shows citizens how easy it is to “Go Green.” Administrative Assistant for the City of Madison Lori Stapp said the event will promote tips for growing your own herbs and gardens and encourage people to be more organic.
“We were excited to get Recycle Man for this festival,” Stapp said. “Anything to help keep it green.”
PRINTED IN THE APRIL 16, 2009 EDITION