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From the Department of Public Works:
Yard Waste containers are popping up on sidewalks near you. Curbside collection of yard waste officially starts Monday, March 31st. Collection, by Allied Waste, will occur on your neighborhood ‘trash day’. Our contract provides this service every week through your ‘last trash day of November’.
Diverting organic material from the incinerator is the Law! And makes fiscal sense. In 2007 Lowell sent 2,985 tons of yard waste to composting operations, saving the City over $207,000 in disposal cost.
It is preferred that you use paper Lawn & Leaf bags. However, grass, leaves and small brush (<3 ft smaller than 3 in thick) can be placed in a labeled barrel. YARD WASTE stickers are available at City Hall (Rm 34), DPW (1365 Middlesex St) or at the Health Dept (341 Pine St). Kindly do not place bags or barrels out prior to your trash day; we would like to keep sidewalks open for pedestrians. Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact this office.
It should be noted, that it is 1) illegal to put yard waste into the regular trash and 2) that the city composts yard waste. This saves room in landfills, saves us taxpayers a lot of money, and recycles that waste to useful soil. But, you could save taxpayers even more money! Why not compost your own yard waste, and all your non-meat food waste, yourself? Compost bins are sold at reduced cost (the expensive one is sold out, but the basic one, which I have, is available) via the city. Here’s the form to fill out (pdf).
Some easy and simple tips, all of which I myself employ, to reduce your trash and carbon footprint on this earth:
Most weeks, my husband and I produce less than one kitchen trash bag of waste. I think I’d like to get that down even further. The city helped a lot when it went to accepting all numbers of plastics. One of the things which really helped was paying more attention to paper recycling. So much packaging on everything! Putting all the chip cardboard (cereal boxes, etc) into your paper recycling seriously reduces your garbage waste.
So, what are your everyday tips for becoming sustainable?
Here’s some statistics on our garbage:
Of the 4.5 pounds produced daily per person, before recycling statistics are considered, the following statistics indicate how it breaks down:
Paper-34.2%- Which is mainly consisted of corrugated boxes and newspapers. Nearly half of that total ends up getting recycled.
So we could do significantly better recycling paper. That means you!
Food Scraps-11.9%- About a quarter of the food we consume and prepare gets tossed into the garbage and only 2% of that is composted.
A backyard composting pile can really help! If we could increase food composting to 25%, think of how much energy and money that could save us.
Plastics-11.8%- This can be found in seemingly every product these days, but the strongest contributor is packaging. All in all, only 5.7% of plastic garbage is recycled.
This is a no-brainer, especially with $110 oil. We should be increasing our capacity and our citizen responsibility for recycling plastic. But even better yet, we should be reducing the amount we use in the first place. Better packaging, the use of plastic replacements (biodegradable alternatives), getting rid of our use of plastic bags, all these things will keep costs down and help the environment.
Yard Waste-13.1%- From grass to leaves and tree trimmings much of this ends of in the dump or incinerated.
Wood-5.7%- Mostly old furniture, wood crates and pallets takes the cake here; a small portion is chipped into mulch.
Metals-7.6%- Durable goods such as appliances are the biggest source of the metal waste despite a strong 45% recycling rate for cans aluminum is also a significant source.
Glass-5.2%- The bottles and jars account for some odd 86% of discarded glass of that only one quarter is recycled and the rest is glass from electronics and furniture.
No yard waste should be going to landfills or incinerators, period, it should be composted. Glass is easy to recycle into use and therefore should also be banned from our waste stream. And I always thought that metals should all be recycled; after all, there’s a finite amount of metal on our planet just like there’s a finite amount of oil. It seems stupid to throw it out. We need better policies around appliance disposal as well.
Interesting, though rather depressing, garbage statistics. You can, however, feel good about yourself if you take some very simple actions to reduce your garbage footprint!
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