The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that over 200 million tons of municipal solid waste is generated each year. Most of the waste goes to landfills that eventually fill up and can pose an environmental risk by contaminating ground water. As well, Methane gas escapes from land fills and is a greenhouse gas that is about 25 times more harmful than CO2 releases. The best, and obvious, way to reduce landfill waste is to divert waste from landfills — by recycling.
The second reason for recycling is to reduce the extraction, processing and transportation of scarce virgin resources used in manufacturing.
Many cities have curbside pickup recycling programs and web sites where one can get details about the program. For a good example, San Francisco has a successful and aggressive recycling and compost program.
The City of Atlanta has a popular recycling program that most of us in the neighborhood use. Here is a list of items that can be recycled.
|What Items Can Be Recycled?
|City of Atlanta Tips for Better Recycling Results
1. Please be sure your bin is placed on the curb prior to 7 am on your regularly scheduled collection day.
2. Keep your bin in a convenient place so that all members of the household will be more likely to participate in recycling.
3. Remove all lids and other closures from plastic bottles and containers before placing them in the bin. These items are normally a different type of plastic other than #1 or #2 and are considered contaminants.
4. Do not place aerosol containers of any kind in your recycling bin. These items are hazardous.
5. Do not dispose of left over paint, paint thinner, household cleaners, batteries or any other toxic materials in your recycling bin.
6. Please do not place plastic bags, string, plastic wrap, strapping tape or any rubber or vinyl in your bin, as these are not included in our program.
7. Please remove newspapers from the plastic sleeve and place them on the top of other materials in your bin before securing the lid.
8. Wash your bin on a regular basis to avoid attracting insects, bugs and rodents.
9. Contact the Service Provider by calling the Recycling Hotline to request the replacement of a damaged or missing recycling bin.
10. Make Recycling a Priority!
|Convenience Centers Electronic Waste (“e-waste”) and Florescent Bulbs
Contact your city’s recycling web site for locations.
E-Waste includes all things electronic; televisions, radios, stereos, computers, monitors, cell phones, etc.
Florescent Bulbs include CFL’s and all lengths of bulbs and both T-8 and standard types.
For updates on City of Atlanta policies visit the City’s Recycling web site at: http://www.dreamsan.com/atlantarecylingitems.htm
Another very good web site is at the members section of the Peachtree Hills Civic Association web site in the “Green Pages” section where you will find detailed recycling information from the Northwest Earth Institute site at:
Another way to reduce the material sent to landfills is by composting our yard and kitchen wastes. By some estimates, 30% of the waste volume sent to landfills is made up of yard and kitchen wastes that could be composted.
Composting is a natural process whereby once-living material decomposes making an earth-like substance that can be used to enrich gardening soil. It is considered the single most important supplement we can give our gardens.
How to Compost
Start our compost pile on bare earth. This allows worms and other beneficial organisms to aerate the compost and be transported to our garden beds.
Lay twigs or straw first, a few inches deep. This aids drainage and helps aerate the pile.
Add compost materials in layers, alternating moist and dry. Moist ingredients are food scraps, tea bags, seaweed, etc. Dry materials are straw, leaves and wood ashes. If we have wood ashes, sprinkle in thin layers, or they will clump together and be slow to break down.
Add manure, green manure ( clover, buckwheat, wheatgrass ) or any nitrogen source. This activates the compost pile and speeds the process along.
Keep compost moist. Water occasionally, or let rain do the job.
Cover with anything we have – wood, plastic sheeting, carpet scraps. Covering helps retain moisture and heat, two essentials for compost. Covering also prevents the compost from being over-watered rain. The compost should be moist, but not soaked and sodden.
Turn. Every few weeks give the pile a quick turn with a pitchfork or shovel. This aerates the pile. Oxygen is required for the process to work, and turning “adds” oxygen. We can skip this step if we have a ready supply of coarse material, like straw.
A healthy compost pile should have much more carbon than nitrogen. A simple rule of thumb is to use one-third green and two-thirds brown materials. This allows oxygen to penetrate and nourish the organisms that reside there. Too much nitrogen makes for a heavy, smelly, slowly decomposing mass. Good composting hygiene means covering fresh nitrogen-rich material, which can release odors if exposed to open air, with carbon-rich material, which often exudes a fresh, wonderful smell. If in doubt, add more carbon!
For more details on composting go to this website: