By Rose L. Thayer
Fort Hood Herald
The race is officially on to close Fort Hood's landfill by 2020.
Leaders and volunteers met at Club Hood Thursday for a kick-off workshop for the installation's Net Zero Waste Program.
"I'm excited about closing the landfill in 2020 and not spending the $3 million a year to collect and maintain it," said Brian Dosa, director of the Directorate of Public Works.
Fort Hood was one of six installations selected by the Army for its zero-waste pilot program earlier this year. To reach that 2020 goal, it will take everyone on post, said Jennifer Rawlings, sustainability coordinator with the directorate's environmental division.
The effort has been divided into four working groups: reduction, repurposing, recycling, and marketing and outreach. Each group is composed of a cross section of Fort Hood's population, including soldiers, civilian employees and contractors, said Dosa.
"We all buy products and throw them away. We have to make people aware of what they are doing with products when they are done with them," said Rawlings, adding there will be challenges along the way.
"Education is the hardest part, but it's also the most important," she said.
Nick Johnsen, the goal leader for marketing and outreach efforts, said he agrees that changing a culture isn't easy.
"The biggest challenge is trying to change people's behaviors. We've done some studies and we know that you can't change people by punishing them. But if you change the windows of which people view their life and environment, then there will be success in making them want to do the right thing," he said.
Johnsen is a volunteer for the Net Zero program and serves as the director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation at Fort Hood.
Dosa agreed that it starts with an individual's choices.
"It starts with me and it starts with you," he said. "It starts with changing behavior in your own house. No one can change all of Fort Hood; you can only change the people around you."
About 9,000 tons of materials were recycled last year at Fort Hood, generating between $1.3 million and $1.5 million, according to the environmental division's recycling team. That was 41 percent of the waste created on post, which was diverted from the landfill.
A tentative timeline set for the program shows the diversion rate increasing to 60 percent by 2015, 75 percent by 2018 and 100 percent by 2020. Officials expect about 80 percent of all diverted waste in 2020 will be recycled.
Recently, Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, toured the recycling center and was briefed on the beginnings of the zero-waste pilot program.
Col. Mark Freitag, garrison commander, was briefed at the end of the workshop on the ideas generated during the group's brainstorming sessions, which ranged from creating a "soldier's list" - similar to the website Craigslist - to reusing furniture and installing hand dryers in bathrooms in place of paper towels.
"You made a difference here, and you got us started on the path to Net Zero," Freitag said.
The volunteers will flesh out their ideas into action plans and present their efforts quarterly to Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr., commander of III Corps and Fort Hood.
"This is important to (Campbell)," Freitag told the room of volunteers. "It's going to be important for your commanders and your leaders. ... This is the way of the future and this is where Fort Hood is moving."
Contact Rose L. Thayer at email@example.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.