Minimizing a Community’s Carbon Footprint Through Recycling and Onewheel
Andy Lamont is the Onewheeling king of recycling in his small community of Benton, Illinois. An avid Onewheeler and the founder of a self-run, nonprofit DIY recycling center, Andy started the Do Your Part Recycling simply because none was provided by the county of his rural community. Working overtime daily to manage the facility single-handedly, around a full-time day job, Andy doesn’t collect a paycheck for his efforts. He’s in it for the environment. What’s better, he commutes to and from work by way of Onewheel, and handles most of the operations for the facility without touching foot to ground. That’s a damn good way to minimize a carbon footprint, and thanks to Andy, more than 100,000 pounds of recycling have been saved from the landfill. We caught up with the king of recycling to learn what drives him. -Mike Misselwitz
How did your DIY Recycling center come to be?
I live in a small town in Southern Illinois and work at my family’s grocery store, called Save-A-Lot. Our town used to provide a recycling dumpster for residents, but in 2018 it got taken away. By that point I’d gotten super passionate about recycling, and I couldn’t just quit, so I bought a truck and started taking it to the next closest spot around 45 minutes outside of town. I’d volunteer to take other people’s stuff too, and before long I had more recycling than space. So I asked my father if I could start using Save-A-Lot as a collection facility. He was kind enough to allow that, and it grew from there.
How does your facility work?
We use Save-A-Lot’s back parking lot as the base of operations, and we have a machine to bail cardboard. People come and sort out their recycling, then I save it up, load it in the machine, compact it, and turn it into bails. For a while it was a small gig, but we’re the only collection facility in town, so it’s gotten pretty popular. We’re a nonprofit that collects and recycles plastic, glass at no cost to the community.
Is there a monetary incentive for you to do this?
Hardly. The market for recycling is terrible, plus I have to pay for a semi-truck to transport the bails to the buyer. At the rate we’re collecting, it takes us six months to a year of hard work to collect enough recycling to fill a semi—between 23,000 and 29,000 pounds. Most of the time, after paying for the semi and labor, we’re only making around $100 per load for a year’s worth of work. In some cases it even costs us. I definitely don’t do this for the money.
Why do you do it?
My community has recycling, I’m passionate about it, and we need a place to manage it. There’s not really another option. I’m just doing my part.
How do you fund the operation?
None of this would be possible without donations. I don’t collect pay for my work, but the donations help cover hired help and the cost of transport. We’re super thankful for any donation we get, big or small. And now that we’re a nonprofit, I’m trying to get help from the county, but it’s like pulling teeth.
What’s the growth been like?
Even without much advertising, it’s outgrowing itself every day. We’ve multiplied the amount we collect every year. The more stuff we get, the more we’re keeping out of the landfill, the more recycling is on people’s minds. As long as there’s demand, and as long as I can make it work, we’ll keep growing.
What’s the main problem you see with waste disposal in your community?
Most people around here have never been taught about recycling. They buy, use, throw away. No one thinks about where it goes. So we’re not only trying to provide a place to go, we’re trying to educate.
What’s your message to them?
You’d think I’d tell people to recycle more. But my message is recycle less. And by that I mean consume less. Be smarter about what you buy. Don’t buy that plastic water bottle. Instead, plan ahead and bring your own reusable water bottle. Be aware of what you’re leaving behind.
Do you use your Onewheel on the job?
I’m on it all day every day! I live around 10 miles from the recycle drop-off, so I ride the Onewheel to and from work. It’s awesome knowing that I’m not leaving any emissions behind in my commute. And I use it for almost every aspect of the work we do. I can bail cardboard on it, I can move palates, when stuff gets scattered I use it to go pick it up, I sweep the parking lot while I’m riding it…I’m standing on it right now! There’s nothing that I can’t do here without using my Onewheel, and it makes things so much easier and faster, and way more fun. I almost don’t have to put my feet on the ground when doing this work.
What would you like to add to the Onewheel community?
The Onewheel community is full of smart people, but I’m sure there are those people who don’t think about recycling. If I can help bring recycling to the community, that’s super positive. I go to a lot of Onewheel events—the Dirt Surfers event in Arkansas, the one they had in North Carolina—and I hand out recycling stickers. I try to educate anyone who will listen, so I hope it carries home with them and they keep thinking about it. Learn more about the Do Your Part Recycling Center, visit their Facebook page, and donate via their Paypal account here.