2008-11-13 / Editorial

Many simple ways to reduce waste

Flotsam and Jetsam

By Donna Drago By Donna Drago I think gardeners understand recycling more than any other demographic group. That's not to say that no one else recycles, but gardeners have a more pressing interest to do it often and do it right.

We understand that returning nutrients to the earth is the way to get a better crop next year and the year after that. Last weekend, my husband and I cleaned up our perennial beds. I cut down the stems and he fed them through our lightduty chipper, which turned an unsightly mess into neat bins of small particles. We then spread the chips back over the soil around the perennials—like a blanket for a long winter sleep. The garden is quite large, and when we were through chipping we had about two big garbage cans full of chips. We could have put them in bags to be put out with the trash—in fact that's what most people do—but instead we found a way to incorporate them back into our own property for the good of the garden.

In countries where gardening is a passion, recycling seems to be more of a focus than it is in other places. In England, where everybody wants to be the next Gertrude Jekyll or Christopher Lloyd, many towns have "brown wheelie bins," so people get to put their yard waste out for curbside pickup alongside their bottles and cans.

In the Netherlands, where they are passionate about their tulips and gardens, they have companies that go into to old landfills, sift out the long-buried bottles, cans and plastic items, and recycle them— even decades after they were originally thrown away.

Jamestown has recently begun two initiatives to encourage more recycling—one is the offer of free lawn and leaf bags—that can be filled with yard waste and brought to the town's transfer station. Even those who do not have a transfer station sticker can take advantage of this terrific offer. There are plenty of brown bags for island residents' use—especially during this season of falling leaves. Call the Department of Public Works at 423-9806 to arrange to pick up these free bags.

The other initiative is the new electronics recycling center, also at the transfer station. This bin, which opened in October, accepts computers, printers, telephones, monitors and many other computer accessories—all free of charge. There is a nominal fee of $10 for televisions up to 32-inches and $20 for larger, rear-projection and wood panel TVs. This is a pretty good bargain when you consider the alternatives like hauling services, which cost considerably more.

Do you know that recycling is mandatory in Jamestown? According to the town's website, not only is it mandatory, there is also a $50 fine for those who do not regularly recycle. I wonder, are there still people out there who are not recycling?

Town Administrator Bruce Keiser told me that residents are responding very well to the new electronics recycling offer. This brings the town even closer to its goal of 30 to 35-percent total recycling. Right now, Jamestown is at 23 percent. Keiser reminded me that recycling has a direct impact on taxpayers in that for every ton of trash that ends up in the landfill over the town's cap, taxpayers are charged $60. "Recycling more can be a great savings for taxpayers," Keiser said.

So, not only is it a good idea for the earth, recycling is a good idea for our collective wallet.

Additionally, the town is working on a calendar, which will give residents a day-by-day account of items that can be recycled. Look for it in the coming months.

There are so many ways we can all do more to make sure that our planet doesn't become a giant dump.

When my kids were really little, one of the first "jobs" I ever gave them was to take items out to the recycling bin. Cans and jars fit well in little hands and explaining the importance of their task to them will make children life-long recyclers.

Start a compost bin where all the potato peelings, eggshells and coffee grounds can be returned back to the earth. Even easier, throw the coffee grounds and vegetable trimmings directly on to the garden. They will eventually break down and provide organic materials to the soil.

Even before recycling, thinking about purchases—like paper products—can reduce a household's waste. Remember dishcloths? Cloth napkins? Buy some in fun patterns and funky colors and you'll never miss paper towels or napkins, which are used once and end up in the trash.

My personal goal is to see the size of garbage cans dramatically reduced and to see the green and blue bins grow to gigantic proportions.

The town website has a long list of items that can and cannot be recycled. Take a look at www. jamestownri.net/recycle.html to see if you and your family are recycling every item that can be reused or repurposed.

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