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In the current year, 2017, Alabama Environmental Council is celebrating its 50th anniversary! For fifty years, AEC has advocated for environmental issues in our state with many successes. Now, Felicia Buck, AEC’s newly appointed Executive Director, will carry out Alabama Environmental Council’s mission. I sat down with Felicia to learn more about her background and vision for AEC.
What sparked your interest in conservation?
When I was five or six years old, Auntie Litter, Pat Mitchell, visited my school and her presentation made a lasting impact on my life. Also, during my childhood, my dad bought some land in Springville, about 190 acres, with a strong desire to build a house completely off-grid. We built the home without power tools. We used oil lamps, solar panels, and composting toilets. It was an unforgettable, hands-on, unique childhood experience.
Tell me about your college experience.
I went to college right out of high school, but I ended up opening three small businesses to pay for school. However, the businesses took up all of my time, so I ended up putting college on hold.
When I chose to go back to school a little later in life, I knew right away that I wanted my life’s work to make a difference in our state and to encompass sustainability. I pursued an individually designed major at UAB, which allowed the opportunity to create my own degree in sustainability. I combined Environmental Engineering, Public Health, Political Science, and Business classes, and graduated with a B.S. of Science.
AEC Recycling Efforts
AEC concentrates its efforts on sustainable living by reducing impact on global warming; expanding work in recycling; and growing education and environmental literacy efforts across the state.
Currently, AEC doesn’t get any funding or municipality from the city for its recycling program. Most funding comes from long-term donors. But, with the upcoming election, AEC is hoping to gain funding and awareness from within the city by submitting a proposal.
Alabama Environmental Council collects 2,000 tons in recyclables annually, which saves the City of Birmingham an estimated $45,000 in avoided landfill costs.
A 2016 Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC) study determined that Alabama is home to 42 manufacturers who rely on recycled content feedstock. These companies generate more than $7.8 billion in yearly sales. Also, they employ more than 17,350 Alabama citizens directly working in the manufacture of recycled content products.
As a non-profit, we can’t function without donors. The Recycling Center, right now, sustains itself, as far as the product we bring in. In order to increase focused efforts that benefit the city and state, as well as increase our hours of operation, we have to have help from the city.
Felicia’s Vision for AEC
AEC’s trailblazing history and mission embodies everything I believe in. Today’s education and awareness efforts are key for the future. Plus, when coupled with awe-inspiring recycling initiatives, AEC provides a unique learning opportunity for community citizens and encourages each of us to make a positive impact.
My vision is to grow AEC to provide more services to the community and throughout the entire state of Alabama.
We will create and implement an education program focusing on recycling efforts and solid waste management which will coincide with our school recycling programs.
We will strengthen our efforts to be a voice for the people by keeping them informed about environmental issues in our state.
These efforts will take time and increased support. We would love to speak with anyone who wants to get involved by volunteering or donating so that we may progress forward and make things happen!
Currently, Felicia is working on re-branding AEC by launching a new website and logo. She is passionate about introducing more educational material in school systems and improving the recycling center. Her entrepreneurial spirit coupled with a dedicated staff and board of directors will certainly drive AEC forward.
This is an exciting time for Alabama Environmental Council. If you’re interested in learning more about AEC efforts, you can contact them here. Or, even better, donate to the AEC here. Every penny counts!