This past weekend, I attended the Greentopia Festival at High Falls with my family. I stood proud as a parent watching my children navigate the variety of waste receptacles with ease, knowing what was recyclable, what was compostable, and the very few items that were neither. I observed too, visitors that found difficulty with this and it made me realize that we still have a long way to go in educating the public about recycling and other environmental issues.
Recycling is at the root of the simplest things we can do to help the environment, yet many find it challenging to understand what to do with different items and that ultimately, it is just easier to trash everything. With our next Go Green! Recycle Rally from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Sunday (Sept. 22), it seemed like a good time to make this task simpler for our visitors.
Composting is a simple task that anyone can do. Whether you live in an apartment or have acres of land, you can compost kitchen and yard waste. Compost bins come in a variety of sizes, from the smallest counter top unit to a large heavy-duty outdoor bin, or you can find numerous plans online to build your own. What goes in your compost bin? Eggshells, coffee grounds (including the filter), all vegetable and fruit waste, tea bags, paper towels and napkins, non-coated paper plates and cups, grass and plant clippings and small pet waste (rabbit, guinea pig, etc. not cat or dog). Over time these items will break down into a rich fertilizer which can be utilized around your yard.
What can be recycled in your blue bin at home? All plastics labeled 1 through 7. The exceptions are prescription bottles, pesticide containers, Styrofoam and bags or filmy product wrapping – these items are accepted at the Monroe County EcoPark. All glass and metal containers (EXCEPT drinking glasses, window glass, Pyrex or light bulbs) including empty aerosol cans (no pesticides or spray paint) as well as all gable top cartons, like those milk and juice come in as well as drink and soup boxes. Please make sure to remove straws from drink boxes first! You can also recycle old metal pots and pans and aluminum foil. You can recycle a variety of paper items – newspapers, magazines, catalogs, corrugated cardboard, phone books, paper boxes like cereal, cracker, tissue, and shoe boxes, pizza boxes, paper egg cartons, junk mail, other miscellaneous paper, envelopes, books, and even gift wrap!
All major retailers are required to accept your plastic shopping bags back, though using the reusable shopping bags are a much better option.
What about stuff that can’t be recycled at home? You can bring it to the Zoo! The Zoo will accept your batteries (in sealed Ziploc bags), CFLs and fluorescent bulbs, clothing, shoes, bedding and other textiles, household items, small and large electronics and ink and toner cartridges. Have papers you need to dispose of, but are worried about securing your personal information? Shred-Text will have locked containers available at our event for secure shredding of your personal papers.
So, the next time you are standing over your trash can with an item in hand, ask yourself if there is a better option before disposing of it in the trash. Chances are you’ll find that there is, and that is one baby step toward protecting our planet!
– Tina Crandall-Gommel, Youth and School Group Programs Coordinator