On most counts, it's easier to be green in Montgomery County than in any of the area's other 13 jurisdictions. It has one of the country's top recycling rates (amount of recyclables collected divided by trash generated), 43 percent, and has strict rules on what must be recycled.
We recently mailed a flyer titled "Compost Happens" to single-family home residents. This mailing has generated lots of phone calls and emails from you to us. Thank you!
Having raked up lots and lots of leaves in and around my own yard over the past two days -- yes, they are finally falling! -- I want to address some of the questions I have fielded from you by phone and email as a result of our mailing.
Your flyer says that compost piles should be located "at least one foot away from any fence". Why?
Following this recommendation can be a challenge, especially in a small yard. But, it's an important recommendation to heed. See, the industrious decomposers in your compost pile are not terribly picky. To them, a piece of dead wood is a piece of dead wood. Whether the wood is question is a twig you've raked up into the compost pile, or a fence post is of little consequence to them. Keeping a little distance between (wooden) fences and compost piles is therefore good practice. For this reason, it is also wise to avoid siting your compost pile right next to your house, garage, or shed.
Now, if your fence or structure is made from a non-decomposing material (recycled plastic, for example!), then there is no problem in putting your compost pile close to it.
When you recycle the cans, bottles, and jars from your meal preparations, remember to add your fryer oil to that list! Please don't put the oil into your blue bin. :-) Instead, post an oil offer to our new Vegetable Oil Exchange.
Frying vegetables instead of turkey? Of course, your waste oil is heartily welcomed on the Exchange as well.
We invited you... and you came to help us celebrate America Recycles Day last Saturday! Thank you to all who participated. In addition to the staff who worked on this event, we are grateful to our many volunteers, who collectively contributed hours of time in preparing for and then supporting the event's activities.
Rocco, the Recycling Retriever, greeted visitors enthusiastically, with open arms.
We had bags of Leafgro available to folks who stopped at our display in the Town Square.
A staff member put the finishing touches on a display about recycling at apartments and condominiums.
Children industriously created works of art from a variety of "recycled" items.
Do you know what to recycle in Montgomery County? These two volunteers were ready to quiz event visitors!
From the questions we receive, I know that folks wonder whether it really matters whether they save that can, bottle, or jar for recycling, whether they separate their large metal items for special collection, or whether they make the effort to reduce the amount of waste they generate.
Our numbers are in for Fiscal Year 2007, and yes, those seemingly small actions really do matter. In fact, collectively they add up to our having recycled 43.2% of what we in Montgomery County discarded last year. Seen another way, we recycled just over 43 out of every 100 pounds we pitched. Thank you very much for your part in this success! (What's a Fiscal Year? In our case, it is the 12-month time period from July 1 through June 30.)
Earlier this month, I wrote about pillow disposal. Today, I received this note from C., one of our readers:
I suspect that the person's local veterinarian or animal shelter might be glad to get the pillows to use as bedding for needy or sick animals. Go ahead and ask--they might be delighted.
Thanks, C., for this tip! In the solid waste management hierarchy, reuse ranks higher than recycling. And, of course, the possibility of giving old pillows a new lease on life is preferable to throwing them into the trash.
It's true: those energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs harbor a small amount of mercury within them. Because of the mercury, it's best to dispose of burned-out compact fluorescent bulbs as hazardous waste, and to clean up carefully if one breaks.
Those large plastic orange bags which look like pumpkins do add a festive touch to Halloween and fall decorations in your yard.
However, our field staff reports that they are seeing "pumpkin bags" set out at the curb, filled with leaves for yard trim collection.
Oops! We'll gladly pick up your bagged leaves... as long as the bag is paper.
What's wrong with plastic bags? The leaves we collect go to our Montgomery County Compost Facility. As machinery turns the compost piles, it grinds up material, including the plastic bags. The resulting plastic snippets are a tremendous problem. Not only do they blow around the facility, but they also need to be fished out of the finished compost.
So, if you use "pumpkin bags" to contain items for collection, please use them for your trash rather than for your leaves.
Pardon our dust as we stir up a little more than usual!
Our Solid Waste Transfer Station expansion project is humming along. We are adding a new wing to our tipping floor (that's where the trucks, well, tip out their contents). The addition is on the side of the building facing Frederick Road.
I have a bunch of bed pillows that have seen better days. I don't want to Freecycle, but was wondering where to recycle them. They are not terrible but, not hygienic enough to pass along
Thanks for your question, P.!
I put the question to the manager of our clothing and textile recycling program. We are able to accept only pillows which are new, and in a bag. So, please dispose of your used pillows in your household trash.