Saturday, August 29, 2009

Where does my recycling go?

Our visiting friend Ben B. admitted to two fears about recycling: 1) does the stuff he recycles actually get recycled, especially with city budget cuts, and 2) how does the completely unsorted recycling get sorted and actually recycled? The DC government has a great video on the sorting process that is well worth viewing (especially after the first minute and 40 seconds). So we have dealt with fear #2, but we will have to investigate further to deal with fear #1.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Guerrilla Recycling

Maybe it is time to rethink recycling, a whole alternative paradigm. Of course, as the DC Office of Recycling says: Rethink. Reduce. Reuse... And then Recycle. But what about alternative forms of recycling? What would guerrilla recycling be? Well, guerrillas are irregular forces fighting some conservative state force. Would this be recycling items where you are not the intended recycler? Such as at the House office buildings? At the same time, we don't want to provide a disincentive to pioneering recycling programs. What about exposing businesses that use bioplastics but don't have any plans to recycle these materials? Does the "sustainable" Sweet Green restaurant compost its bioplastics? What about pressuring the DC or other governments to expand recycling? Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Update on Composting Bioplastics in DC

People have been buying bioplastics (such as corn-starch utensils, compostable cups, and corn-plastic packaging) as an alternative to petroleum-based plastic. However, bioplastics don't degrade in the regular trash and shouldn't be put in recycling bins. So, commercial, industrial, or municipal composters are needed to process bioplastics, as well as the usual compostable materials. But where are they?
1) San Francisco, Denver, and Halifax, NS provide curbside pick up of compostable materials. (Thanks, Susan D., for this info.) DC should do this too!
2) The DC area does not have municipal or commercial composters available to recycle residents' bioplastics. DC does compost some percentage of the autumn tree leaf pickup and may mulch tree limbs from trimming.
3) However, the House office buildings DO compost bioplastics!

Update: Recycling Batteries and CDs

Thanks to the Office of Recycling at the D.C. Department of Public Works I now have some answers. I have received a great new list of the items that you can bring to Household Hazardous Waste and Electronic Recycling. There you can recycle: CDs, DVDs, Video tapes, Audio Tapes, and batteries of all kinds. According to the website Rechargeable Battery Recycling Coalition , you can take rechargeable batteries and cell phones to Frager's (Capitol Hill) and the Radio Shack at L'Enfant.

However, as far as I know, there is no drop-off location on the Hill for regular batteries. VGDA is working with a Hill business to do this. Do you know of battery drop-off locations in other parts of DC?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Recycled books go to DC area prisons, shelters, schools

From the very helpful Arlington Co. recycling website, I learned that Books for America accepts (and does home pickups of) donated books, movies, CDs, laptop computers, etc. They use the books to build reading libraries in schools, shelters, prisons, etc. in the Washington, DC metro area (and are branching into rural Virginia) as well. They also provide children with their first take-home books. However, check the website before donating because they have some specific needs. Bring your items to the Books for America's "Bookstore with a Purpose" at Dupont Circle.