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Loudoun community wins national recycling contest

Written by The Washington Post
Published: May 13, 2013

The residents of the Lakes at Red Rock, a subdivision east of Leesburg, spent six months diligently sorting their recyclables, encouraging neighbors to do the same and carefully documenting their efforts as part of a concerted effort to win a national recycling competition.

On May 4, their persistence was rewarded when the subdivision was presented with the first-place prize in the SC Johnson Green Choices Recycling Challenge: a $100,000 grant that will be used to make the subdivision’s community center more energy-efficient.

The Lakes at Red Rock was one of 50 communities, one from each state, competing in the contest, which encouraged neighborhoods to reduce their carbon footprints and redouble their recycling practices. The winner was chosen based on waste reduction, recycling efforts and initiatives to educate local residents.

The competitors’ progress was measured by Recyclebank, a company that uses a point-based system to offer rewards, such as discounts on consumer products, to people who step up their recycling efforts. After the Lakes at Red Rock joined Recyclebank in July, the company approached the community about participating in the contest, said Liz Mills, director of the Lakes at Red Rock homeowners association.

The Leesburg subdivision formed a recycling committee, Mills said, and advertised the competition every week on banners, fliers, a Web site and through door-to-door outreach.

Mills said the community, which contains nearly 400 households, quickly embraced the contest.

The improvements to the community center will include a solar power system to replace fossil fuel electricity, upgraded insulation, triple-pane windows, gas-filled windows, foam-filled fiberglass doors and a rain collection system that the community will use for watering landscaping, Mills said.

She said the community’s residents, along with Loudoun County officials, were hopeful that their successful efforts might encourage residential recycling participation countywide.

“If it wasn’t for the support of every homeowner in our community, and having Loudoun County recycling coordinators encourage our program, we would never have achieved this win for Virginia,” Mills said in a statement.

The residents were “ecstatic” about winning, she said. The grant was awarded to the community May 4 at a celebration attended by the community’s board of directors, contest representatives and Del. J. Randall Minchew (R-Loudoun).

The subdivision “can’t wait to get started on using these funds to retrofit our community center, look for ways to educate our community about green initiatives and reduce our carbon footprint,” Mills said.

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