Courtesy Choctaw Nation
The Choctaw Nation's Going Green team employed the turtle "Luksi" to urge everyone to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Choctaw Nation Green Team Wins Oklahoma Environmental Excellence Award


Who knew that thousands of pounds—four tons, in fact—of waste could net an award? 

But that's what happened to the Going Green Team of the Choctaw Nation, when its recycling efforts and other sustainability programs brought a statewide environmental award from the Oklahoma environmental organization Keep Oklahoma Beautiful. The team garnered one of 18 awards that the nonprofit bestows annually for environemental excellence.

What put the team over the top for the nonprofit organization’s Tribal Government Programs award was a recycling drive on Labor Day in September. The drive netted 3,565 pounds of cardboard, 2,758 pounds of plastic, 1,126 pounds of aluminum, 45 pounds of tin and 86 pounds of paper totaling 7,580 pounds, or 3.79 tons of material, the Choctaw Nation said in a release.

“Recycling was initially promoted by having three types of cans distributed throughout this annual event for trash, for aluminum, and for paper,” said Lynn Malley, Oklahoma State University Extension Educator—Solid Waste Management, in the Choctaw statement. “The waste stream sorting that took place this year was one step along the way to including the composting of food scraps during this annual event.”

Left to right: Kelly Danner, KOB Board President; Vonna Shults, Jon Hotubbee, and Tracy Horst, Director of Environmental Sustainability Going Green Team (Photo: Courtesy Choctaw Nation)

In addition to collecting thousands of pounds of recyclable materials, the team gave presentations on waste stream assessment and water conservation, plus set up displays showing how recycling can be done. And the team said this is not the end.

“We will continue to add each year,” said Choctaw Nation Director of Environmental Sustainability Tracy Horst, who lead the Going Green team. “Next year we hope to add composting of excess food from vendors and cafeteria areas, while pushing recoiling still, placing even more recoiling containers and increasing awareness of where to recycle.”

Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, founded in 1965, gave out the honors at its 24th annual Environmental Excellence Awards Celebration on November 20, 2014, held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. More than five hundred people from across Oklahoma attended to support what Keep Oklahoma Beautiful called “the best of Oklahoma's environmental best.”

Keep Oklahoma Beautiful’s mission is “to empower Oklahomans to keep the state clean, enhance its natural beauty and sustain a healthy environment,” the Choctaw release said. 

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