It’s tough to know what to do with the things you want to get rid of in these times. So the Wessays™ Consumer Education and Green teams have combined forces to bring you this handy guide.
The key to disposal is sorting. In olden days, you just threw stuff in the garbage can or down the incinerator and they’d be carted off to … who knows where, or burned and the ashes put to the curb for collection.
We are much wiser today. We know that certain things should not be mixed with certain other things for the good of the planet and the saving of the landfills for more important items like furniture, car parts and the bodies of errant underworld figures.
So, let’s start with the organic material… food. Even this should be sorted. You can’t just plunk everything in a container anymore.
Separate the plants from animal material. Place the animal material in one container. Do not combine with dairy product waste. You can establish a separate container for out of date cream cheese and sour cream.
Vegetable leavings… carrot peels, used ears of corn and their wrappings, the wooden-like bottoms of broccoli crowns, etc. should go into their own container.
If you must, you can put them out for collection, but ideally you can create a mulch pile. If you have the room and aren’t fussy about appearances, you can just pick a spot and plunk the apple cores and peach pits in one spot. It’s probably best to pick a far corner of your yard because after awhile, this stuff begins to stink.
If you can’t create a mulch pile or add to an existing one, help others establish theirs. For example if there is a wooded area nearby, take the vegetation there and dump it. Or if there’s a neighbor you dislike and who happens to be out of town, dump it on his lawn after dark. Keep that lawn in mind. It will come in handy later in this posting.
Remember: Sort, sort sort.
That’s especially true when dealing with recyclables. Recyclables should be subdivided by material.
Metal (like cans or empty Altoids boxes) should go in one container. Paper should be put in a paper or plastic bag. If you really want to be green, separate and sort the paper, keeping newsprint, computer paper and slick magazine papers apart.
Glass can all go together. But if you really want to be green, separate clear glass from colors. Brown beer bottles may be mixed with jars that contained baby food or pasta sauce. But that would be unsporting of you.
The real show stopper is plastics. Plastics are subdivided into seven categories. Those marked 1 or 2 inside a little triangle can be lumped together. Number 3 is PVC which is used for things like Windex bottles and vinyl siding. Most recyclers don’t want it but will take it anyway. Number 4 is things like bread wrappers. Five, six and seven are tough customers to recycle and many curb pickup programs won’t touch them.
Ideally, you can get a few different bins and separate your own plastics.
Lightbulbs are a problem, and so are batteries. Here’s where that disliked neighbor’s lawn comes back into play. If he’s still out of town, dump them by the light of the stars so you don’t get caught. Otherwise you’ll have to just throw them out. If you actually hate the neighbor, don a mask and heavy gloves and crush the CFL bulbs as you distribute them among his philodendrons.
As an added bonus, you may be able to snuff a couple of cats who absorb the chemicals through their paws.
Finally, there are things you shouldn’t put into garbage disposals. Chicken bones and onion skins, for example. Carrot or celery peelings, likewise.
Coffee grounds are okay, but not the used Mr. Coffee filters.
See? You can be smart and green all at the same time if you follow a few simple steps and own about a dozen garbage cans, recycling bins and enough property for a reeking mulch pile.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
© WJR 2013