Young Alum wastes no time (or material) making a significant impact
Building enthusiasm for recycling and sustainability projects is not always a simple task. You have to have the right person leading the charge who can make things interesting and fun for everyone. For 2008 Tech grad Korinda Walls, her passion has made this task appear easy at Fort Wayne Metals.
Photo of Korinda Walls courtesy of Fort Wayne Newspapers
If you’re looking to build excitement for a recycling or other sustainability project, then you need look no further than Indiana Tech alumna Korinda Walls. In her short time as sustainability coordinator at Fort Wayne Metals, Korinda has made an impressive impact on this large company of over 700 employees. Her enthusiasm can be heard in every word as she passionately shares her recent successes and future plans.
“I have so many ideas and projects that I’m excited about; I could talk about this forever!” Korinda exclaimed at the beginning of our interview.
This past spring, Korinda seized the opportunity to transform an unused area of land owned by Fort Wayne Metals into a community garden. Despite the difficulties of a very rainy spring, Korinda was able to launch this project in June with 22 plots tended by 28 gardeners who are all employees at Fort Wayne Metals. Most of the plot sizes are 36, 72, or 144 square feet in size. There is a larger plot for larger produce such as pumpkins and watermelons. Each of the gardeners is responsible for watering and tending his or her plot on personal time. Each gardener is also responsible for deciding what to do with the harvest.
The fruits and vegetables grown in these plots are eaten by those who grow them, shared with co-workers, and donated. Much food has been donated to co-workers with illness or family members in the hospital, in addition to much being donated to local food banks. In fact, an unexpected and unsolicited gift of approximately 150 plants from an anonymous donor was planted in special plots in the community garden. The harvest from these donated plants is used to help those in need within Fort Wayne Metals and throughout the greater Fort Wayne community. “It has been so rewarding knowing that we have helped so many people with this garden project,” Korinda stated.
With the great success of this project in its first year, Korinda is happy to report that the 3,060 square feet used for this gardening purpose could potentially double in size in 2012. Another recent and significant donation to the community garden was a greenhouse. This will allow gardeners to get an early start on planting during the winter months. The hope is to be able to feed more employees and provide larger donations to community food banks.
And if you didn’t think that recycling could be fun, then you haven’t heard of Korinda’s tape ball contest. Yes, that is correct, I said tape ball contest! In order to bring awareness to the need to recycle the large amount of masking tape used in Fort Wayne Metal’s production process, Korinda organized the inaugural contest to see which team could create the largest ball of tape. “It has been fun to watch these teams compete!” Korinda said. This year, there are eleven teams competing. These teams have combined to create almost 700 pounds in masking tape balls. The largest balls weigh in around seventy pounds!
Her goal with all of her sustainability projects is to provide the tools and education necessary for success, to make the activity fun, and to provide a convenient avenue for people to engage. Korinda shared, “I never want people to feel forced into participating. I want them to join in because it’s easy and fun.”
The efforts of recycling at Fort Wayne Metals are paying great dividends, too. Last month alone, 224,000 pounds of material were diverted from the landfill, and approximately the weight of 25 elephants worth of material will be diverted from the landfill over the course of one year.
Other projects on the front-burner of this sharp-minded, resourceful alum include working toward certification for Fort Wayne Metals to become an official bike-friendly business, continuing to develop the 10-acres of walking trails on the grounds of the business, and protecting the red-tailed hawks and deer on the property. Korinda also is developing an environmental policy for Fort Wayne Metals and organizing an internal trading, sharing, and buying site on the company’s intranet to help connect employees who have things to sell or trade with employees in need of such items.
Korinda graduated from Indiana Tech summa cum laude in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in psychology. Currently, she is pursuing her master’s degree in public affairs at IPFW. Her thesis will be focused on sustainable agriculture and food options in northeast Indiana.