Thursday, December 14, 2006

May I recycle Clementine boxes?

The clementines were tasty, but what's to be done with the now-empty box?!

Sorry, in Montgomery County, MD, we do not recycle the wooden boxes in which these delectable citrus fruits are packaged; please dispose of them in your household trash.

The boxes are sturdy, so some people use them for crafts or storage. Others turn them into kindling.

[And if you, like me, now have the tune to "Clementine" buzzing through your head after thinking about this topic, here are the lyrics:]

Thanks to "Talkin' Trash" reader, J., who reminded me about this topic!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Before you recycle your cell phone, erase your data

Before you donate your computer, you wipe the hard drive clean of its data.
Before you toss your personal documents into the recycling bin, you shred them.
What do you do before you recycle or donate your cell phone?

Consider using the Cell Phone Data Eraser to get instructions for clearing your phone of its personal information before you pass the phone along.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A "Dump" and "Transfer Station" are not the same thing

Folks often refer to our Shady Grove Solid Waste Transfer Station as "the dump." In fact, transfer stations and dumps (or landfills) are different types of facilities.

Our Transfer Station is literally just a transfer point. Trash gets delivered to us in (comparatively) little trucks, and gets reloaded into bigger shipping containers.

By law, the Transfer Station's "tipping floor" (where the trash gets unloaded as it's brought to us) must be cleaned out before the next day's operations begin. That usually takes a few hours after the tipping floor closes for the day. However, after busy days, this work can take well into the night to accomplish.

Where does the trash go after it leaves the Transfer Station? Keep following our blog, Gentle Readers! :-)

More about waste transfer stations from the US EPA

Monday, November 27, 2006

May I take things from the Transfer Station?

From our mail bag:
"I was at the Shady Grove dump this weekend dropping off trash and I asked one of the workers if I could remove a wheel off of a bicycle that was being thrown away. He said that I could not remove anything from the dump because it belongs to Montgomery County..."
Correct. Sorry, but once a County resident or business brings an item to the Shady Grove Transfer Station, you may not claim it for yourself.

From the Code of Maryland Regulations "Scavenging or salvaging may not be conducted at any system of refuse disposal for public use..."

Why not? Our Transfer Station staff explains:
"The 'no scavenging' requirement is designed for public safety. While picking up a bicycle wheel may seem insignificant, if scavenging were allowed, people could potentially put themselves in danger climbing on scrap metal, walking behind a pile of waste being moved by a loader or simply adding to the number of pedestrians in an area that already has a lot of traffic and a lot of impatient people who do not drive as slowly as they should to watch out for others."
So, where can you look for a sought-for item? Consider asking your local Freecycle Network members whether they have one to give away.

P.S. The facility is a transfer station, rather than a dump. :-) More on that in a future entry...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Deep-fry your Thanksgiving turkey? How to dispose of the cooking oil...

Ok, so after you enjoy your deep-fried Thanksgiving turkey, how do you dispose of the cooking oil?

Why, you can simply bring it to us at the Shady Grove Transfer Station! We now accept up to five gallons of vegetable/cooking oil per visit. Please hand your oil to one of the attendants in the Recycling area. They will then pour it into the proper collection container.

What happens to your oil? It gets reused. Some is turned into animal feed, and some finds new life in biodiesel fuel. It's also possible to run vehicles off of straight vegetable oil!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Christmas tree recycling offered December 26, 2006, through February 2, 2007

Wow! We haven't seen any Christmas trees for sale yet, but we've already gotten our first inquiries of the season about recycling them. Just in case you get this question, too, I want you to be prepared with the answer:

In Montgomery County, this year's Christmas tree recycling collections will be made from December 26, 2006 through February 2, 2007. After this date, Christmas trees will continue to be collected, but they must be prepared according to our yard trim guidelines.

What's special about the tree collection program?

It allows you to put your tree out at the curb for collection as-is. (During the rest of the year, you must cut trees and branches to 4-foot lengths, and bundle all of the pieces together.)

November 23, 2006: Thanksgiving Day Holiday - modified collection schedule

Thursday, November 23, 2006, Thanksgiving Day, is a recycling and trash holiday. All County-provided recycling and trash collections will be one day later than normal.

If you have any questions or concerns about your County-provided collection, please contact our Customer Service staff online or call 240-777-6410.

Note: if you (or your community) have a private contract for your trash collection, these schedule announcements may not apply to your trash service -- check with your hauler or community manager.

  • Thursday, 11/23/06, Enjoy the holiday!
  • Friday, 11/24/06, Thursday's collections
  • Saturday, 11/25/06, Friday's collections

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thanksgiving Holiday - Transfer Station closed November 23, 2006

The Shady Grove Transfer Station will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 23, 2006 .

Planning a trip to the Transfer Station that weekend? Here's an insider tip: The Friday and weekend after Thanksgiving are extremely busy. Avoid long lines by coming during the off-peak hours: early in the morning or late in the day.

Today is America Recycles Day

November 15 is America Recycles Day. Its goal is to promote recycling, and things made with recycled content.

Getting items out of the waste stream and into your blue bin is only part of the solution... Recycling helps save natural resources when products are made from "old" materials rather than from "new" ones. For this to be successful, manufacturers need to have customers for their recycled-content products. So, vote with your dollars to show your support of recycling by choosing recycled-content products when these meet your needs.

What are some of these nifty items made from things you recycle in your blue bin? Take a look at this sampling of recycled-content products.

Pledge to recycle and enter the America Recycles Day contest. Visit our website for a refresher on what to put into your blue bin and tips on recycling and donating a host of other materials.

And, of course, don't forget about those other two important waste-related "R's": reduce and reuse!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Paint Giveaway ends for the winter season

We've closed our popular paint giveaway at the Shady Grove Transfer Station for the winter months.


Freezing temperatures damage latex paint. Because our Household Hazardous Waste drop-off (the home of our paint giveaway program) is not insulated, the material we receive and store there is subject to freezing and thawing over the winter. So, before we give you bad paint, we'd rather suspend the giveaway for a few months.

What if your paint freezes at home?

Your paint may still be salvagable. Check out The Family Handyman for advice on using latex paint that's been frozen, complete with a photo!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Nov. 11, Veterans' Day: Normal collection schedule

Friday, November 10, 2006, Veterans' Day is a regular recycling and trash collection day. All County-provided recycling and trash collections will be made on their normal schedule.

If you have any questions or concerns about your County-provided collection, please contact our Customer Service staff online or call 240-777-6410.

Note: if you (or your community) have a private contract for your trash collection, these schedule announcements may not apply to your trash service -- check with your hauler or community manager.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Business Recycling Seminars, Nov. 16 and Dec. 5, 2006

Business Recycling: What Executive Regulations 15-04AM and 18-04 Mean for Your Business

This seminar is designed to help you implement the necessary changes to ensure that your organization is in compliance with the revised recycling requirements that were enacted on February 8, 2005.

Who should attend:

business owners, managers, recycling coordinators, property managers, and collectors/haulers.

Topics include:

  • Additional materials that must be recycled by businesses
  • Roles and responsibilities for all parties involved
  • How Montgomery County can help your business
  • How to file the required recycling and waste reduction report

Continental breakfast and lunch will be served. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sign language interpreter services will be provided upon request with notice as far in advance as possible but no less than 72 hours prior to the event. If you need other services or aids to participate in the activity, please call Gabriela Monzon-Reynolds at 240-777-6400 or 240-777-6442 (TTY). Taking these steps will help us have sufficient time to best meet your needs.

Seminar dates and locations:
  • Thursday, November 16, 2006, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center
    5701 Marinelli Road
    North Bethesda, MD 20852
    • RSVP by Friday, November 10, 2006
  • Tuesday, December 5, 2006, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    Gaithersburg Marriott Washingtonian Center
    9751 Washingtonian Boulevard
    Gaithersburg, MD 20878
    • RSVP by Wednesday, November 29, 2006
How to Register:

Register online, or call 240-899-2222.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Leaf vacuuming begins November 6, 2006

Leaf vacuuming is done by the Highway Maintenance Section, one of our sister divisions/sections within the County's Department of Public Works and Transportation.

The Vacuum Leaf Collection Program for 2006 will begin on Monday, November 6, 2006. The Highway Maintenance website will be updated to help you track crews' progress.

Vacuum Leaf Collection Program details and weekly updates

How should you prepare your leaves for vacuum pickup?

Some tips from Highway Maintenance:

  • Leaves should be placed in piles or containers on the grass or behind the curb. Placing leaves in streets or alleys can disrupt traffic and surface drainage, hamper snow removal operations or pose a fire hazard to automobiles parked over them.
  • Collections are restricted to leaves only. Sticks, branches or coarse garden debris should be placed in containers or tied in bundles not more than four feet long and placed where household trash is regularly picked up.
What if you miss your vacuum collections, or if vacuuming is not available in your neighborhood?

The Division of Solid Waste Services continues to provide year-round collection of leaves, grass, and brush each week on your recycling day. See details on our website:

Friday, October 27, 2006

Join us at a Neighborhood Chat - Oct. 30 or Nov. 2

  • Learn the latest about recycling collection
  • Find out how to request collection services
  • Give back to your neighborhood

Attend one of our Neighborhood Chats to meet the Division of Solid Waste Services’ Community Outreach Program Specialists, and to join forces with like-minded County residents.

Chat dates:
  • Monday, Oct. 30, 2006, 7:30 p.m., Davis Library, 6400 Democracy Blvd, Bethesda
  • Thursday, November 2, 2006, 7:30 p.m., Wheaton Library, 11701 Georgia Ave, Wheaton
Reserve your seat today:
Contact us at 301-840-2856 or

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Friday, October 13, 2006

Can you recycle Altoids tins?

From our email "bag":
I have recently been buying Altoids. I especially like licorice flavor ones. I was accumulating a few cans, thinking that they would make a nice storage container. After stacking up about 5 of them, I decided to toss them in the recycling bin. If they are not recyclable please give me some thoughts on how to dispose of them.
Thanks for your question! I did some sleuthing for you, and... you've been doing the right thing! Enjoy the mints and candies, and when the tin is empty, simply drop it into your blue bin for recycling.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Leaf vacuuming begins November 6, 2006

Many residents think the Division of Solid Waste Services provides their leaf vacuuming in the Fall. Sorry, we don't! The leaf vacuuming is done by our good colleagues in the Highway Maintenance Section.

Highway Maintenance announced that this year's vacuuming begins on Monday, November 6, 2006. The collections are anticipated to run through mid-December. (The end-date is always weather-permitting!)

What's the difference between the Highway Maintenance and the Division of Solid Waste Services leaf collections?

  • In the Highway Maintenance program, leaves must be raked to the curb in time for the posted collection date - no bagging required. Leaf vacuuming details - including a service area map and collection status reports.
  • The Division of Solid Waste Services' yard trim collection includes leaves, grass, and brush. Pickups are made weekly on your recycling day, all year round. Leaves set out for this collection must be in large paper bags or in reusable, labeled containers (like trash cans). Curbside yard trim collection details

Monday, October 02, 2006

October 9, Columbus Day - normal schedule

Monday, October 9, 2006, Columbus Day is a regular recycling and trash collection day. All County-provided recycling and trash collections will be made on their normal schedule.

If you have any questions or concerns about your County-provided collection, please contact our Customer Service staff online or call 240-777-6410.

Note: if you (or your community) have a private contract for your trash collection, these schedule announcements may not apply to your trash service -- check with your hauler or community manager.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Safe & Secure Community Shred - Sept. 30, 2006

Consider the Safe & Secure Community Shred for those personal papers you've been concerned about putting into your weekly paper recycling collection.

Bring up to 5 boxes of personal papers -- staples and paper clips do not need to be removed! -- on Saturday, September 30, 2006, from 8 a.m. to Noon. Event details

The Montgomery County location is:
Mercantile Potomac Bank
260 East Jefferson St.
Rockville, MD 20850

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

We went to the polls with our literature, too

Most of the flyers and brochures available as you make your way into your polling place on Election Day urge to you support this or that candidate.

For Tuesday's primary elections, some of our staff hung out their shingle for voters as well. As folks came to cast their vote, many stopped to chat with us, learn about recycling, waste reduction, and what to do with their trash.

Based on Tuesday's success, look for us outside polling places in November!

Invite us to your next community event -- we're happy to join you.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Can I recycle Tyvek® envelopes into my blue bin?

From our electronic mailbag:
We frequently get mail packaged in so-called "Tyvek" envelopes. The U.S. Postal Services gives away Priority Mail envelopes made of Tyvek. These Tyvek envelopes are marked with the recycling triangle enclosing the number "2" and are marked HDPE (high density polyethylene). My question is: Can "Tyvek" envelopes be recycled in the blue bin for cans, bottles and No. 2 recyclable containers?
The answer is "yes"! While we don't accept Tyvek® envelopes in our blue bin program, you may send them in to be recycled. If you receive these envelopes, check out this Tyvek® envelope recycling option.

Thanks for your question, R.!

- - - - -

Update - April 30, 2010

Comment received from L:
I did a google search for "is tyvek recyclable" and found your blog... took me straight to their website where I was able to find the information (link was outdated), but at least it let me know it was there! Thank you, thank you!
Thanks for your feedback, L! I have updated the link.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Why a bulk trash pickup didn't include the bedframe

From our electronic mailbag:
"I left an old mattress, boxspring, and bedframe (separated into 2 pieces) out on my regular collection day. The mattress and boxspring were taken but the frame was left. Aren't these items supposed to be picked up as well?"
Sorry, the bedframe was probably left behind intentionally when your bulk trash collection was made. Why?!

Here are two potential answers:
  1. Did you schedule a scrap metal recycling pickup for the bedframe? The mattress and boxspring are trash. But, the bedframe is metal, and will therefore not be taken by the trash crew. Scrap metal collections are made on your regular collection day. But, the truck only comes to you by request.
  2. Did you include the bedframe on your itemized list when you requested the pickup? We want to help make sure that crews pick up only what you want them to take. So, we ask that they carefully follow the list of items you provide when you schedule the collection. If it's not on the list, it won't be included.
Request a scrap metal recycling collection through our website:

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What types of plastic bags are recyclable at grocery stores?

Excepted from a post on CafeMontgomery (a local treasure trove of all sorts of community information!):
...what type of plastic is allowed in the recycling bins at the grocery stores?

I was just cutting the paper labels off some clean, dry bags, and realized that they feel very different from one another, and that some have numbers and a recycling symbol and others don't...( I found 1, 2, 4, and 5!) please, tell me what I should be doing!
Many of the collected grocery bags end up going to Trex, a company which turns grocery bags, stretch films (like the kind used to wrap loaded shipping pallets), and waste wood into recycled plastic decking, railings, fencing, and landscape edging.

Here are the Trex specifications for the grocery bags they accept:

In a nutshell, they want bags made from polyethylene, which is resin #4.

A quick tipsheet for interpreting those other resins mentioned in the specifications:
PVC: resin #3
polystyrene: resin #6
polyurethane foam: if labeled at all, should be resin #7
polypropylene: resin #5
PET: #1

Thanks, M. -- great question!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Bookcrossing - another way to reuse books!

From our mail bag...
I recently read the piece from the July newsletter about recycling books. You did say, it was good to re-use them and one resource you may or may not be aware of is the Bookcrossing program.

To see what it’s all about, go to and it will explain the program. Basically, it involves leaving books that you’ve read (and don’t intend to keep) in public places where they can be picked up by other book lovers. There’s more to it, like “joining” Bookcrossing and registering the book, but the outcome is that books get passed along and not discarded.

Just sharing another possible course of action re: keeping books out of the trash.

Thanks, B., for sharing this resource, and for adding to our list of book reuse opportunities!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Labor Day, Sept. 4, 2006 - modified collection schedule

Monday, September 4, 2006, Labor Day, is a recycling and trash holiday. All County-provided recycling and trash collections will be one day later than normal.

If you have any questions or concerns about your County-provided collection, please contact our Customer Service staff online or call 240-777-6410.

Note: if you (or your community) have a private contract for your trash collection, these schedule announcements may not apply to your trash service -- check with your hauler or community manager.

  • Monday, 9/4/06, Labor Day: no County-provided collections
  • Tuesday, 9/5/06, Monday's collections
  • Wednesday, 9/6/06, Tuesday's collections
  • Thursday, 9/7/06, Wednesday's collections
  • Friday, 9/8/06, Thursday's collections
  • Saturday, 9/9/06, Friday's collections

Shady Grove Transfer Station:
  • closed: Monday, 9/4/2006.
  • reopens with normal hours: Tuesday, 9/5/2006.
Added 9/1/06: Normal hours at our Beauty Spots on Saturday and Sunday, September 2 and 3, 2006.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Household Hazardous Waste Collection: November 4, Silver Spring

Our second "satellite" Household Hazardous Waste collection event will be at the Silver Spring International Middle School, November 4, 2006, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Location: 313 Wayne Ave (Dale Dr. and Wayne Ave.), Silver Spring.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Household Hazardous Waste Collection: October 14, 2006, Bethesda

Just announced: we'll hold a Household Hazardous Waste collection event at the Westland Middle School on Saturday, October 14, 2006, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Location: 5511 Massachusetts Avenue (west of Little Falls Parkway), Bethesda MD 20816.

Reminder: Latex paint is not a hazardous waste. Just dry it up, and then put the can into your regular household trash.

Need paint? We've got free paint available at the Shady Grove Transfer Station! Our "inventory" changes daily!


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"Builders' Recycling Guide" for construction and demolition materials

Our Use It Again guide to repair, rental, and reuse opportunities in the Montgomery County area has long been popular among our residents and other wishing to find options for their household items.

Now, there's a new tool for another category of items: construction and demolition material! Published by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the Builders' Recycling Guide should be a very helpful aid for the building industry -- as well as residents who have materials from do-it-yourself projects.


Friday, August 04, 2006

Scrap metal collection = curbside convenience

Need to get rid of an appliance, swing set, bicycle, metal shed, or other large metal item? What you *don't* need to do is worry about how to load it into a vehicle and get it to the Shady Grove Transfer Station. Of course, we will be happy to accept your metal items there. But,...

We'll come to *you* to pick up your scrap metal items! Simply request a scrap metal recycling collection, and then set the item(s) at your curb on the scheduled day.

For details about our scrap metal recycling program, and to request a collection:

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Concrete, Asphalt, Dirt, Stumps, and more: Not on Sundays, please

Did you know that the Shady Grove Transfer Station accepts concrete, asphalt, dirt, stumps, and similar bulky materials? You may bring these materials for disposal Monday through Saturday. Please use the Truck Entrance on Shady Grove Road.

Why not on Sundays? Even small amounts of these materials can weigh a lot. That's why all vehicles bringing them must go over the Transfer Station scales. And, the scales are located at the Truck Entrance.

What does it cost? There's no fee for loads of trash weighing up to 499 pounds. The fee schedule applies to loads weighing 500 pounds or more.

Shady Grove Transfer Station hours and fees


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Why it's so important to dry out your paint before disposal

The best thing to do with leftover or no-longer-needed paint is to put it to use. If you can't use it yourself, give it to someone else.

If that's not possible, dispose of latex (water-based) paint in your regular household trash. We've got how-to instructions on our website.

Making sure that the paint is completely solidified before you set it out for trash collection is critical. Paint spills are very challenging to clean up.

paint spilled on driveway

(Reminder: it's only oil-based paint which must be disposed of as household hazardous waste. If the oil-based paint is from your business, consider our Ecowise program for small-quantity generators.)


Monday, July 17, 2006

Newsletter Helper: Book recycling

Now you may simply recycle your hardback books by tossing them into your curbside paper recycling collection. Read more in the July 2006 Newsletter Helper!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Reuse for no-longer-needed medications

Have unused or no-longer-needed prescription medications? There are a number of organizations which collect these items for medicine recycling (also called drug recycling).

Here are two organizations which accept medications used for managing HIV. AND –- they also take drugs used to treat secondary conditions, such as antibiotics, antifungals, anti-emetics, and more.
Know of any local medicine recycling programs? I'd be happy to add them to our resource list.

Addition: just found this one:

Categories: Recycling_

Thursday, June 29, 2006

July 4, 2006 - modified collection schedule

Tuesday, July 4, 2006, Independence Day, is a recycling and trash holiday. All County-provided recycling and trash collections will be one day later than normal.

If you have any questions or concerns about your County-provided collection, please contact our Customer Service staff online or call 240-777-6410.

Note: if you (or your community) have a private contract for your trash collection, these schedule announcements may not apply to your trash service -- check with your hauler or community manager.

  • Monday, 7/3/06, normal collection schedule
  • Tuesday, 7/4/06, Independence Day: best wishes for the holiday!
  • Wednesday, 7/5/06, Tuesday's collections
  • Thursday, 7/6/06, Wednesday's collections
  • Friday, 7/7/06, Thursday's collections
  • Saturday, 7/8/06, Friday's collections

Shady Grove Transfer Station:
  • closed: Tuesday, 7/4/2006.
  • reopens with normal hours: Wednesday, 7/5/2006.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Dispose of water- and flood-damaged items

Have these heavy rains left your household with rain- or flood-damaged items?

We have disposal instructions on our website.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Metal cans: to cut or not to cut off the lid

Yesterday, a resident wrote:
I use a hand-operated can opener, and usually open the can about 90 percent and pour out the contents so that the lid doesn't splash down.

Should I continue cranking until the lid separates, and throw the lid away?

Or should I leave the lid attached and carefully bend it back so that no sharp edges protrude?

Both lid-opening options are fine for recycling metal cans. But, please give us the lid in either case. If you cut the lid off completely, the safest thing is to tuck it inside the can, and to gently pinch the can's opening to trap the lid inside. Then, put the can into your blue bin for collection.

Categories: ,

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Glass: no Corningware, please

This offer was posted to a local Freecycle list:
I broke my favorite large Corningware casserole dish, but the glass lid survived. If you need one, it's here until next glass recycling day.

Thanks to this person for thinking that glass = recycling! The only thing is that if this lid doesn't find a Taker, it should be disposed of as trash rather than a "blue bin recyclable."

In Montgomery County, our curbside recycling program accepts only glass bottles and jars.

What's wrong with that lid? The heat-resistant properties which make it so convenient for baking cause problems when the lid is mixed in with the "regular" bottle and jar glass.

Categories: ,

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

It's just a trash can - Part II

The trash can from yesterday's entry was filled with leftovers from a construction project. The bag on top of the can's contents was a sack of cement.

Our weight limit for trash cans is 45 pounds. This one tipped the scales at 150 pounds. As a result, it was tagged with an orange sticker, and the crew left it behind.

What were the can owner's options at this point? The can's contents could have been self-hauled to the Shady Grove Transfer Station for disposal. Or, the material could have been set out for collection the following week, repackaged in smaller containers weighing up to 45 pounds each.

Monday, June 05, 2006

It's just a trash can, right?

Returning to our "What's wrong with this picture?" series... what's the matter with this trash can? Why could its contents not be collected on the day the can was set out at the curb?

Stay tuned... answer to come!

Friday, May 26, 2006

What do you do with sandbox sand?

From our (e)mail bag:
We put out two containers of old sandbox sand this week but the trucks did not take them because they weighed over 45 pounds each.
The key to the answer is in the container weight. In Montgomery County, we ask that cans, containers, and bags weigh 45 pounds or less. This rule helps protect the backs of your collection crews.

In the situation here, repackage the sand into smaller amounts, and the containers should be whisked away with your next trash collection. Or, you may self-haul the sand directly to the Shady Grove Transfer Station. The Transfer Station does not have per-container weight limits. But, watch for the health of your back as you load and unload your vehicle!

Trash?! Yes, sand is disposed of as trash. Our yard trim collections are limited to grass, leaves, and brush.

What else can you do with "waste" sand? Consider putting it back into service in another way. One suggestion: mix it with compost and soil as you build a rain garden in your yard. More information about rain gardens.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Build or repair your home... from trash

Last Saturday, we attended the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission's "Going Green at Home" Fair. We were delighted to share exhibit space with The Loading Dock, a non-profit building material recycler. The Loading Dock accepts the materials we receive in our "Don't Dump. Donate" program, located at the Shady Grove Transfer Station. Those building materials are then resold at The Loading Dock's Baltimore warehouse at a fraction of the retail price, saving customers money and keeping those items out of the waste stream.

We now have another option for buying reusable building supplies -- right in the middle of Montgomery County. The Habitat for Humanity Restore is open in Gaithersburg, and is also well on its way to finding new homes for new and used building materials.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Newsletter Helper: Tips for recycling during the summer

Beverage cans and bottles, plastic ice-cream containers, plastic strawberry and blueberry baskets, fencing, paint... all items we tend to generate for disposal over the summer months. What's recyclable and what's not? Find out in the May 2006 Newsletter Helper!

What other summer recyclables are puzzlers for you? Let us know, and look for answers in future posts...

Friday, May 05, 2006

International Compost Awareness Week

Composting Week 2006 Poster Next week, May 7 to 13, is International Compost Awareness Week. How to celebrate this? If you don't already have a compost pile in your yard, consider starting one. Montgomery County offers free compost bins at several locations around the County. Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sunday, April 16, 2006: Beauty Spots Closed

Beauty Spots:
  • Saturday, April 15, 2006: Normal Saturday hours at both Beauty Spots.
  • Sunday, April 16, 2006: Both the Damascus and Poolesville Beauty Spots will be closed for the Easter holiday.
Shady Grove Transfer Station: It's business as usual at the on these dates -- there are no changes to operating hours.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Earth Day Celebration: April 22, 2006

Celebrate Earth Day with us on April 22, 2006. Seize the rare opportunity to tour the Recycling Center on a Saturday! Enjoy exhibits on recycling, waste reduction, and buying recycled... and more. For information:

Saturday, April 22, 2006
11:00 am to 3:00 pm, rain or shine!
850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, Maryland
(in the parking lot in front of Montgomery County Public Schools Headquarters)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

National Poison Prevention Week

This week is National Poison Prevention Week. More than 90% of the poisonings reported to Poison Control Centers each year happen in homes, says

While bringing fewer hazardous products into your home, and using products with lower toxicity are two lines of defense, what can you do with the products you already have? The US EPA has online resources for locking up hazardous products. When you are ready to dispose of products you no longer need or want, remember our Household Hazardous Waste collections. We offer this service to County residents at no charge.

Got hazardous products from a business? Check out our ECOWISE program for small-quantity generators.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Cell phones: free mailing label for recycling

A number of local retailers accept cell phones for recycling. And, our County Sheriff's office and Victim Services' program reuse cell phones. These options beat putting those obsolete or no-longer-functioning phones into the trash.

Still, in order to participate, you have to remember to pack up the phone and charger, and take them to their destination. After one too many encounters with my toddler, I myself have a broken phone in my possession. The problem is that I only remember to take this phone to the drop-off point as I am driving past it. And when this happens, the phone is several miles away, tucked away on a shelf at home.

My excuses have just disappeared! I learned that you can print out a mailing label (postage-paid!), affix it to an envelope, tuck the phone inside, and drop it into a mailbox to send it on its way. What could be easier?!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Spring 2006 BTS Course is full

Wow! We still have almost six weeks to go until the Spring 2006 Behind the Scenes course begins, but so many of you have already registered that the course is full. We'll spend seven meetings and a field trip talking about... trash and recycling. I'm looking forward to it -- even though I've coordinated this program for many years, I learn new things each time.

Didn't make it into the course? Fear not! You are welcome to join the group for the April 22 field trip to the County's solid waste facilities in Dickerson, MD. (Yes, that's Earth Day. No, that was not planned, but it's a fitting coincidence.) We'll visit the Resource Recovery Facility (our waste-to-energy plant) and the Yard Trim Composting Facility. Please preregister for the trip. That lets me know how many groups we'll need to split into for our RRF tour. It also lets me know how many lunch fixin's we'll need -- we don't want any growling tummies or sagging energy due to hunger in the afternoon!

Plastics recycling: are dirty curbside finds recyclable?

Received in the mail:
As I walk through my neighborhood I sometimes take along a bag and collect trash bottles from the curbside. Some of these are awfully dirty, some even still have the caps on and are so dirty I avoid removing them. Is it OK to recycle these, regardless of their condition?
Thank you for your commitment to recycling, and for taking a bag along with you on your outings! (So often, I first remember the bag when I spot the litter, at which point it is, of course, too late. And, you can only carry so much in your hands...)

I put your question to our Recycling Center manager. He says that clean bottles are always preferable. Nonetheless, he would accept your "curbside finds" as-is, without any washing.

Before tossing the bottles into your blue bin for collection, please remove the lids. Why? The lids are most often made from a different plastic resin and through different molding processes than the bottles themselves. As a result, the lids would be "contaminants" in a bale of bottle plastic. So, please put those lids into the trash.

If this post inspires you to do more, consider learning more about Montgomery County's beautification and clean-up programs, including Adopt-A-Road and the Keep Montgomery County Beautiful task force.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Newsletter Helper: Disposal of Large Tree Branches

Ay! What if those March winds and April showers bring you lots of downed branches instead of (or, in addition to) May flowers? Our February 2006 Newsletter Helper offers some solutions. We'll be happy to take bagged or bundled pieces up to 4 feet long and 4 inches in diameter right from your curb. (Please limit those bundles to 45 pounds.) Larger pieces are accepted at the Shady Grove Tranfer Station.

Why the size and weight limit and that bundling requirement for curbside collections? Collection crews toss those bundles into their trucks by hand. And, they serve several hundred homes on a given route. Bags and bundles are much more efficient to load than the loose branches would be. And, the weight limit helps to protect the crews' backs.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Presidents' Day - Feb. 20: normal schedule

Monday, February 20, 2006 ~ Presidents' Day ~ is a regular recycling and trash collection day. All County-provided recycling and trash collections will be made on their normal schedule. If you have any questions or concerns about your County-provided collection, please contact our Customer Service staff online or call 240-777-6410.

Note: if you (or your community) have a private contract for your trash collection, these schedule announcements may not apply to your trash service -- check with your hauler or community manager.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Feb. 13, 2006: Normal collections

We are on our normal recycling and trash collection schedule for today, with no delays due to this weekend's snow.

Please remember to have your items out at the curb for collection by 7 a.m. And, where there are snow banks and parked cars, please place your bins and cans so that crews can see them easily from the street.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Feb. 12, 2006: Snow Closings

The Shady Grove Transfer Station is closed today.

The Damascus and Poolesville Beauty Spots are closed also, as our Highway Maintenance colleagues focus all of their attention on today's snow removal effort.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Bikes: Spring/Summer 2006 collection events

The materials we receive via our scrap metal collection program sometimes includes bicycles in usable or reparable condition. Our collaboration with Bikes for the World, a sponsored project of the Washington Area Bicycle Assocation, puts those reusable bikes back into service.

Bikes for the World has just announced its Spring/Summer 2006 collection schedule. Four local retailers also serve as drop-off points.

We continue to accept bicycles at the Shady Grove Transfer Station, and encourage you to use the BfW collection event/location closest to you.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Delve "Behind the Scenes" with us!

What better New Year resolution than to learn more about... waste!? Our "Behind the Scenes" course stands ready to assist. :-)

Where do your recyclables and trash go after the trucks rumble through your neighborhood collecting them? Journey with the Division of Solid Waste Services' award-winning "Behind the Scenes" course, and see for yourself! "I never knew I could learn such interesting things about trash!" say course participants. Of course, we'll spend lots of time talking about recycling, too.

The Spring 2006 course will meet on Wednesday evenings from 7-9 p.m. at the Shady Grove Transfer Station, April 5 through May 17. The course is free; pre-registration is required.

Details and online registration

Thursday, January 19, 2006

"Thinking Inside the Compost Bin"

In today's Washington Post, Adrian Higgins encourages us to "think inside the composting bin". His article on composting outlines some of the basics of choosing and using different bin styles.

Montgomery County offers a wealth of composting and gardening information on its website, ideal reading on these chilly winter days when your thoughts turn to Spring.

Want a bin or two to get you started? Montgomery County has free compost bins for its residents and businesses.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day - Jan. 16: normal schedule

Monday, January 16, 2006 ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day
~ is a regular recycling and trash collection day. All County-provided recycling and trash collections will be made on their normal schedule. If you have any questions or concerns about your County-provided collection, please contact our Customer Service staff online or call 240-777-6410.

Note: if you (or your community) have a private contract for your trash collection, these schedule announcements may not apply to your trash service -- check with your hauler or community manager.

Dickerson Area Facilities Implementation Group - two vacancies

Live in the Upcounty area? Want a voice in how we operate? The Dickerson Area Facilities Implementation Group for residents of the affected Upcounty community has two vacancies. The purpose of this group is to address community and environmental issues and concerns pertaining to the County's solid waste facilities located in the Dickerson area.

Additional information about the Dickerson Area Facilities Implementation Group