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In the loop
Written by thillman   
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 4:52 PM

An e-mail from my mother recently prompted 1970s flashbacks.

For those who remember the era, perhaps you’ll recall the oil crisis, disco music, the early days of the computer, and the Watergate scandal. As a teen at the time, my reminiscing leans towards historically meaningless things such as bell bottom jeans, platform shoes, and hoop earrings.

As one of four siblings with a stay-at-home mom, my mother was the master of couponing, reusing, and repurposing to best utilize my Dad’s paycheck. Part of this process involved me receiving hand-me-down clothes from my neighbor and childhood idol, Susie.

Three years my senior, we attended the same schools including one of dance. Susie was attractive, graceful, and grasped everything effortlessly. I was gangly, wore braces, and more often than not made my entrance tripping through the dancing school doorway.

Opening my mother’s photo attachment, there she was with Susie, over 30 years later. My former idol was still dressed to a “T” and merely an older version of that “super cool” person that I always wished I could be.

With few newly purchased items throughout the years, having Susie’s out-of-season hand me downs was a pleasure. My mom sewed most of her clothing and my two brothers swapped their items. Dressing “cool”—even a year or two out of style—wasn’t bad when they were pieces once donned by your childhood hero.

While I never admitted that most of my clothes were second-hand, our family was fortunate in that we never did without the essentials and the occasional splurge. The added bonus was that we got hands-on life lessons, including handling money, responsibility, and working hard for what we wanted. At the time however, we didn’t realize that we were helping the environment in the process.

My hometown didn’t have reuse centers like the six locations staffed and operated by the Southeastern Indiana Recycling District (SEIRD). Residents of Franklin, Jennings, Ripley, Ohio, Scott, or Switzerland Counties not only have access to gently used clothing, but books, knick-knacks, office supplies, housewares, shoes, and more. While you’ll never know what merchandise will appear on any given day, the price will always be right. “Available at no charge” is music to anyone’s ears.

Sometimes referred to as “free stores,” I’ll be the first to admit that I’m somewhat disconcerted to hear SEIRD Reuse Centers dubbed as such. While the items are free (with limitations) there’s a certain stigma that comes along with the title —as in reuse centers are only available to, or utilized by, people who are “in need.” This is far from the truth.

With higher prices on nearly everything these days, unsteady employment, and on again/off again recessions, pinching pennies by reusing and repurposing is becoming the norm for families of all income levels.

It’s important however, that we don’t forget the main purpose of SEIRD’s Reuse Centers—to provide the “ultimate” recycling system. For any item that is acquired and reused, that’s one less thing that has to be replaced on a store shelf. This means fewer natural resources are being used, less energy consumed, less pollution emitted, and less fuel expended for shipping. All of this leads to the satisfaction of knowing we’re working towards a cleaner, greener earth and more money in our wallets.

Hours and locations of SEIRD’s six Reuse Centers can be found on our website at seird.org. Check them out and start saving—money, natural resources, and the environment. Just keep in mind that items from our reuse centers are for personal use only and are not be resold.

In the meantime, Mom tells me that Susie is teaching dance lessons these days—and I’m still tripping through doorways. However, my talent may just lie in repurposing projects such as my Nutcracker holiday display, complete with the gold spray painted toe shoes that I wore in the ‘70s. Actually, it looks kind of “spiffy.”

Kendal Miller is the Public Outreach Coordinator for the Southeastern Indiana Recycling District. For more information on SEIRDS services and educational opportunities throughout their seven-county district, log on to seird.org, telephone 812.574.4080, or e-mail kendal@siswd.com.