Ouachita Green cleans up chemicals


Community teams up to prevent waste in water systems:

Many hazardous items like batteries, electronics, chemicals and medications are killing our environment and if we aren’t careful, this will soon be a major issue.
However, Ouachita Green, the ULM toxicology program and ULM students are helping to make the Monroe, West Monroe and surrounding areas cleaner and safer.
“Keep Ouachita Parish Beautiful” was the main goal of Ouachita Green’s Household Hazardous Waste event this past Saturday at the Ike Hamilton Expo Center.
Ouachita Green is a non-profit organization that enhances the community through the recycling of hazardous materials, cleaning of litter and water sweeps.
Many students from ULM assisted in collecting the hazardous items including ULM’s toxicology program.
ULM’s toxicology program partners with Ouachita Green every spring for this event. To students like Savannah Boyte, a toxicology major and third-year volunteer, volunteering for this event really shows its value.
“The event was important because every year, Ouachita Green collects tons of materials that otherwise would end up in local landfills and dumps. Many of the materials collected cannot just be thrown away since there are toxic chemicals in everything,” Boyte said.
These toxic chemicals are often found in old tires and paints among many other things.
According to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, about 135 million tons of municipal solid waste, or 53.8 percent, was discarded in landfills in 2012.
Boyte said that the chemicals in the landfills can run off and enter the water supplies, pollute them and cause havoc in the local ecosystems.
While Boyte has been able to help with this event for a few years now, Pujan Dahal, a senior computer information systems major, volunteered for the first time this year.
“I have been wanting to participate for a very long time, but have not had a chance. I enjoyed it a lot and will try to be more active now,” Dahal said.
Dahal was impressed with how many students actually volunteered to help with the event.
“The best part was that there were a significant number of college and high school student volunteers. The millennials took their time off Snapchat because they are concerned about the future of their planet,” Dahal said.
If you missed the event but still want to help keep Ouachita Parish clean, Boyte said it is never too late to protect our area from hazardous waste.
“The best ways to dispose of common household hazards is to return old medications to select pharmacies, return old motor oil to any mechanic and save all old batteries, electronics and paints for another recycling event near you,” Boyte said.