Monday, November 29, 2010

Recycle your Capitol Hill Pumpkins (and bales of hay)

From: "idfordani"
Date: November 12, 2010 5:43:01 PM EST
Subject: [freecycledc] WANTED: Pumpkins - carved or not (Capitol Hill or nearby)

Don't send your halloween pumpkins to the landfill! I will pick up your pumpkins and put them to good use. Carved pumpkins will be composted and uncarved pumpkins will be cooked and the unedible portions composted. I'm trying to repair a badly damaged garden and need lots of organic material. I will also take those decorative bales of hay or almost any other organic matter you plan to toss.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Celebrate GREEN Friday at Community Forklift

On Nov. 26th-28th, Community Forklift invites you to celebrate GREEN Friday instead of Black Friday. At the holidays, shouldn't you be celebrating peace, family, and friends, not wasting money on plastic junk from chain stores? Well, this year is your chance to break the Black Friday habit, and choose community instead of commercialism. At Green Friday, you don't have to spend much to have a great time!

* Enjoy cider and chances to win door prizes.

* Adults & children are invited to make their own holiday gifts, wrapping paper, and cards in Santa's Workshop (11am - 6pm, Fri, Sat, & Sun).

* The Face Paint Lady will be here! (12-3 Saturday, and 1-3 Sunday, $5/face).

* If you can't resist the urge to buy something, stop by on Friday. From 9-6 on Nov. 26, all orange-tag renovation materials and hardware will be 25% off. Also, all white-tag antiques and architectural items in the Salvage Arts department will be 10% off.

Community Forklift also recommends: 1) the Center for a New American Dream website, which has fantastic ideas for simplifying the holidays and 2) their Green Gift Extravaganza! From now through Dec. 24th at Community Forklift, find beautiful presents from crafters, artisans, and woodworkers. These gifts are made from reclaimed materials, are related to home improvement, or are made by local artists or Fair Trade co-ops.

Community Forklift is the DC area's largest thrift store for building materials. Everyone receives a tax deduction for donating renovation leftovers, building and landscaping materials, tools, hardware, and architectural salvage. Then, Community Forklift makes these items available to the public at very low cost - prices are up to 80% below the big box stores. Community Forklift aims to lift up local communities by creating green jobs, reducing waste and energy use, and making repairs more affordable for homeowners, low-income families, historic restoration folks, small businesses, and nonprofits. They are in Edmonston, MD, off of Bladensburg Road and right outside the Northeast DC line. For directions or more info, visit the Community Forklift website.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Join the Soda Club and Get Rid of Plastic Water Bottles

Join the Soda Club! Yes, you can make your own fizzy water at home and recycle the carbonators at Hill's Kitchen, Bed Bath & Beyond, and other stores. Just put in your zip code into their store locator. As is well known, bottled water is not safer than tap water, is a waste of money, and is bad for the environment. According to the US Recycling Institute, more than 80% of bottles in the US do not get recycled and end up in landfills. Also, millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions are produced in the process of replacing the billions of bottles and cans not recycled. Make certain to ask the store which carbonators they recycle since there are different sizes. Say goodbye to bottled water!

Update: I just check with Leah at Hill's Kitchen. She said, "Yes! We do the exchanges on both sizes of canisters. Best item of the year! I love the machines!" It's so easy to join the Soda Club!

Help Improve Airline Recycling

The great Green America (formerly known as Coop America) has asked everyone to talk with flight attendants on their flights to find out about each airline's recycling practices, and then tell Green America what they say via our short online survey. It is a really short survey, so it is really easy to do and will help them for their next report on airline recycling. Airlines have widely differing practices, and some flight attendants even take it upon themselves to recycle. So, help everyone figure out what the practices are and how the airlines might improve their recycling.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tube-Less Toilet Paper

Recycling Pal Jonathan told me that Scott toilet paper is now selling one version of their product without tubes, which means a potential end to the 17 billion toilet paper tubes produced annually in the USA (accounting for 160 million pounds of trash) and usually thrown away. While you can recycle these tubes, it's even better if they are never made. Jonathan writes, "I think this is great! I'm going to write a couple of different earth-friendly companies to request they do the same. pass it along!" Will do!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The DC Recycler and Recycling Pal Andrew visited the PG County recycling facility for a tour. The tour definitely exceeded all expectations. It was so interesting and so helpful for understanding the recycling process. We definitely recommend the tour.

Kourtney started us out with an explanation of all the different items that could be recycled. Some interesting things we learned:

1) You can recycle toilet paper rolls, (cellophane) plastic wrap, ziplock bags, foil, aluminum pie trays, gift boxes, tissue paper, etc.

2) You can remove the labels from tin cans and recycle them. Otherwise, the labels are burned.

3) Plastic lids are not generally recyclable, so try to find other kinds of lids, such as metal lids or aluminum foil.

4) Avoid clam shell plastic and styrofoam. Neither can be recycled. Try to find some alternative. At a salad bar, a plate would be better than using those covered containers.

5) If you have doubts about whether an item can be recycled, feel free to recycle it anyway. However, garden hoses should be recycled through Richie's Land Reclamation. Car batteries, needles, and other hazardous waste should go to hazardous waste recycling.

Mike then showed us the recycling machines. The process starts when the recycling trucks dump recycling in a big pile on the "tip floor," which is a covered building open to recycling trucks. A loader picks up the recycling and puts it in a metal box that leads to the conveyor belt that goes inside the center. 50-60 trucks drop off recycling at the center each day. They process 35 tons of recycling per hour; 500-600 tons per day. Interestingly, August and September bring the most recycling.

Now, the sorting process begins. About 95% of the sorting is done by machines. Some of the 55 center employees do sorting at the various conveyor belts during two work shifts. The employees immediately pull large items and plastic bags off the belts to keep them out of the gears and put them in recycling bins. The machines have a series of screens that allow certain items to float up over them (like cardboard or paper) and heavier items (like cans) to drop below. Cardboard wet from the rain can't make it through this process, so it has to be set aside to try and put through again. If your cardboard gets wet, let it dry and then recycle it. At each stage, there are 1-3 employees pulling various items off the belts, such as plastic bags or items that missed the screen. They even use optical scanners to identify plastic bottles and blow bursts of air at them to send them into the correct screen.

The sorted items are then put into balers that create bales of each sorted item: cardboard, paper, aluminum, steel, tin, glass, plastic containers, and plastic film (plastic bags). These items are delivered to the company, which has bought the materials to produce something new. In the end, about 6-7% is waste that can't be recycled. Much less than I had expected.

We learned that the PG County area used to have 75 landfills, but now has 31. They can't build new landfills, so they need to recycle. Also, the PG Country recycling center is business that seeks to make money and seeks to recycle everything it can. It's money for the taxpayers, resources for businesses, and one way to keep trash out of the environment. A great deal for everyone.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Compost at Common Good City Farm

Common Good City Farm is an urban farm right in the center of DC (on V St. between 2nd and 4th St, NW). Of the many things they do, they collect food scraps for composting. The farm is getting ready to close for the year, but they will still collect food scraps once a week. If you’re interested, please register for food-scrap drop-off on Wednesday evenings from 6:30-7:30 by emailing Registration is important so they know to expect you in the cold!

Friday, November 5, 2010

What the DC Recycler learned from the Recycling Depot Tour

The tour of the PG County recycling depot was fascinating. Really! We got to see all the stages of the recycling process. Here are some of the most surprising aspects:

1) You don't have to clean items before recycling them. Yes, the recycling depot has huge machines, which can deal with clean or unclean items. The only reason to clean items is if you feel that the food might attract pests around your recycling bin. Also, cleaning your items helps reduce pests and smells at the recycling depot too, but still the recycling depot does not need the items cleaned beforehand.

2) The recycling depot is a business; they want to recycle and make money. The depot makes money through recycling and thus tries to recycle everything it receives.

3) Please do not recycle garden hoses. They wrap around the machines and cause damage. Garden hoses should be recycled through Richie's Land Reclamation. Also, while we were there, a worker pulled out a car battery from the recycling. Car batteries can't be recycled through regular curb-side recycling, but they can be recycled through DC hazardous waste recycling.

4) Please bag your bags. Plastic bags of all sorts (grocery bags, candy bags, cellophane, etc.) are recyclable, but they have to be pulled off the conveyor belts right at the beginning. Otherwise, they will wrap around the machinery and cause mayhem. So, put all your bags into another bag. Alternatively, you can recycle your bags through the grocery stores. However, aside from bagging your bags, please don't bag your recycling. Of course, the best thing is to avoid plastic bags altogether.

I'll write more about the tour soon.

Leaf Recycling: Rake or Use Paper Bags (not Plastic Bags)

The DC Department of Public Works is ready to deploy 200 employees Monday, November 8, 2010 to start collecting leaves. Leaf collection season runs through January 15, 2011, and every neighborhood in the District will have its leaves collected. For two and a half months, DPW crews work six days a week, including Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day, across the District.

Just rake your leaves into the tree box outside your place the weekend before your street's collection. To find out when your leaves will be collected, see the leaf collection schedule. If you want to bag your leaves with paper bags like those from Home Depot, DC will recycle them and use them for compost. DC strongly discourages the use of plastic bags. Plastic bags will damage the equipment.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Have any questions for the recycling officials?

I'll be talking with the DC recycling depot on Thursday. Do you have questions about recycling that you haven't had answered? Let me know!