Saturday, October 17, 2009

Anything that goes in a landfill doesn't decay

I heard this long ago, but was uncertain whether it was true. The DC Office of Recycling reassured me that, yes, anything that goes in a landfill does not decay. So, don't think that your biodegradable bags or corn cups will decompose in the landfill. They do not want ANYTHING to decompose there (since it would produce awful run-off, etc), so they don't provide the conditions for this to happen. Therefore, biodegradable items have to be composted. And you can't compost them in your backyard because most items require special conditions to compost. Therefore, you need to have a great workplace that uses a commercial composter (e.g., the House Office buildings, the National Geographic Society, On the Fly) or you have to find a commercial composter yourself.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sometimes you just have to do it yourself

At the end of the Green Festival, I happened to meet a few members of the inspiring Boonsboro Recycling Task Force. Ten residents of Boonsboro, MD decided that they would just have to organize recycling themselves. What they did can be done by anyone interested in expanding recycling. The Boonsboro crew saw immediately that the DC Recycler had the same goals.

1) Figure out ways to collect recycling that the city doesn't yet recycle. While those in Boonsboro had to organize a recycling dumpster, here in DC you could work with neighbors to find a business that could collect for you. Hill's Kitchen collects Brita water filters for us, which we pick up and send away for recycling.
2) Get the schools recycling. The Task Force started environmental clubs in their high school and middle school. According to DC government, the DC schools are way behind on recycling. If you have a daughter or son in the DC schools and interested in recycling, you can contact the Office of the Chancellor to join the program to start a recycling program in their school.
3) Ask the government to expand recycling. From my experience in government, we always wanted residents to complain and demand better service. If you don't demand, the government officials have no leverage in starting or expanding programs. Just call 311. You can let them know what kind of recycling DC should have, request a recycling bin, ask them recycling questions, report recycling violations (for example, at restaurants), etc.
4) Provide information about what can be recycled and where. The Boonsboro group created a recycling how-to information sheet that was mailed with the residents’ town utility bills. Let your neighbors and friends know about regular DC recycling and new recycling possibilities. Also let the DC Recycler know and we'll post it to the blog!

The Boonsboro group even organized their own Green Festival last year with a recycling collection zone, a kids zone, a clothing swap, and 80 vendors. The Boonsboro group also saw that DC has only 31 recycling cans in public spaces, when little Boonsboro already has more than that! Get some friends/neighbors together and change your world.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The DC Recycler is ready for the Green Festival

I will be investigating the recycling opportunities at the Green Festival today. Lots of excitement!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Reporting live from the DC Green Festival

Yes, the DC Recycler will be reporting LIVE from the DC Green Festival this weekend (Oct. 10 and 11). The Festival will take place at the Washington Convention Center, very close to the Mt. Vernon Square (yellow and green lines) and McPherson Square (blue and orange line) Metro Stations. Lots of great speakers -- Joel Salatin, Cornell West, Amy Goodman -- and interesting workshops on community gardening, alternative energy, composting, and the parallel hemp universe. The Festival strives to be a zero-waste event, so there will be lots of recycling and composting to report on.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Commercial Recycling

In DC, 70% of trash is generated by businesses and other non-residential sources. So, residences are not the serious problem. We should be looking to convert commercial trash to recycling. Recycling is required in all commerical establishments, BUT businesses only have to recycle glass, paper, and metal (aluminum, steel and tin). Recycling of plastic food containers and beverage bottles is optional. Why do we have to do more recycling than businesses? Businesses should have to recycle plastics and everything else! Why do DC take-out restaurants not have any recycling at all? That is the question of the day!