Wednesday, March 28, 2007

National Public Works Week photo contest

A neighborhood street on which each driveway has blue bins and paper carts standing sentry at the driveway... a container brimming with colorful recyclables... a collection crew working in smooth rhythm, emptying bins as it goes along... These are some of the daily images on which we Division of Solid Waste Services folks feast our eyes!

What recycling and trash scenes and images capture your interest? Snap a photo, and enter it in the National Public Works Week photo contest, sponsored by the Montgomery County Department of Public Works! The prizes are: first place - $100 U.S. Savings bond, second place - $75 bond, and third place - $50 bond.

From the press release:
"The theme for this year's content is “Public Works: Moving Life Forward,” and includes any public works operation such as road work, Ride On bus service, trash or recycling collections, or pedestrian safety improvements."

This contest is actually a two-fer: Entries in the National Public Works Week competition will automatically be entered in the Keep Montgomery County Beautiful Task Force photography contest, too.

Fire up your cameras! I look forward to seeing your entries!

Download National Public Works Week photo contest nomination form

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Don't your paper shreds fly out of your compost pile?

So, if you add shredded paper to your compost pile, don't the shreds fly around?

Great question! Yes, they could. If the bin isn't full to the top, I've found that the shreds tend to stay inside. Sprinkling a little water on top of the shreds [using water from your rain barrel, of course :-) ] helps to keep fly-away shreds in place as well.

Composting = another way to recycle shredded paper

We've covered taking your personal papers to a Community Shred event and how to prepare documents you shred at home for curbside recycling collection. Now, let's take that even closer to home: your backyard!

What is paper but another carbon source for the bacteria and other decomposer-critters in your compost pile? Let paper shreds be another part of their well-rounded diet!

Once the shreds decompose, your personal information -- be it your Social Security number, your bank or brokerage account numbers, your name, address, and phone number and more -- will all be indistinguishable from the rich, dark compost.

The shreds are a nice balance to the "greens" (nitrogen-rich material) you put into your compost pile, like the winter weeds you may be pulling on these warm Spring days. And, there's a certain satisfaction in knowing that bills, financial statements, and the like will find additional use in nurturing the soil in your garden.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Celebrate Earth Day with us on April 21, 2007

Celebrate Earth Day with us in Rockville, Maryland!

The fine print:
April 21, 2007
11:00 am to 3:00 pm, rain or shine!
850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, Maryland
(on the parking lot at the intersection of Route 355 and Mannakee Street)

Planned activities for the day include opportunities to:
  • Take a tour of the Recycling Center
    • Tour buses will arrive/depart 850 Hungerford Drive every 15 minutes
  • See energy-efficient vehicles
  • Great family entertainment
  • Make earth-friendly crafts
  • Refreshments available
  • Learn more about:
    • Recycling
    • Waste reduction
    • Buying recycled products
    • Environmentally-friendly homes & landscaping
Typically, the Recycling Center is open only on weekdays. So, grab this rare weekend opportunity to see how your blue bin items are separated by material before being sent out to processors.

Download Earth Day flier (PDF, 164 kb)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

May I recycle cardboard soda can cases?

From our mailbag:
Should plastic coated cardboard (ex.: cases for soda cans) be placed in the blue bins?
Thanks for asking, R.M.! What looks like a plastic coating on those soda can cases is probably a thin clay coating. (Clay?! Yes, it is helpful in creating higher-quality printing.)

Yes, please do recycle your soda can cases in Montgomery County's paper recycling collection. If you use a wheeled cart for your paper, just toss in the cases with your other recyclable paper items -- no bundling or tying required! If you don't use a cart, add the cases to your bundled paper, and then set the bundle(s) on top of or next to your blue bins or blue can.

The cardboard cases -- and all other paper -- must be bundled or tied before you place them into a blue bin or blue can. Why? Our collection and sorting processes handle paper separately from the cans, bottles, and jars you recycle in your blue bins and cans. When your paper is bundled or tied, the collection crew is able to grab it easily, and to toss it into the paper compartment of the truck.

Monday, March 12, 2007

How to recycle shredded paper at home

Community Shred events and the services offered by document destruction companies are but one tool for handling your sensitive documents.

Many of us now have shredders at home. (We also know that some households have, ahem, manual shredding services -- often accidental -- in the form of the youngest family members... ) Those shreds are accepted in Montgomery County's curbside paper recycling program.

sandwich shredded paper between unshredded paper in your wheeled paper cartThe challenge for you -- and for us -- is to keep the shreds from becoming confetti in your neighborhood as your paper awaits pickup at the curb, and as it's loaded into the truck.

One easy way to contain shredded paper is to put it into a paper bag or cardboard box.

If you use one of our wheeled paper recycling carts, simply "sandwich" your shreds between non-shredded paper so that these are neither at the very bottom nor at the very top of your cart.

There's one more entry to come in this mini-series on shredded paper... Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Safe & Secure Community Shred in Gaithersburg on March 31, 2007

I know many of you blog visitors are interested in finding paper shredding, or document destruction, opportunities...

The next NBC4 Safe & Secure Community Shred event will be held on Saturday, March 31, 2007, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. in two locations: Gaithersburg, MD and Chantilly, VA.

This free event will accept up to 5 boxes of your personal papers -- no business or commercial items, please. Details about accepted material and the Community Shred program

Here's the Gaithersburg information:

Gaithersburg Mercantile Potomac Bank
702 Russell Avenue
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
map for this location

Next in this series:

Friday, March 02, 2007

King County, WA, has new EcoConsumer blog

Tom Watson, in King County, Washington, lead a program called EcoConsumer. What's an EcoConsumer?
"EcoConsumer = A natural balance of consuming and conserving..."
And now, Tom's writing the EcoConsumer Blog! Among his recent entries, a review of EcoHangers, "Do Not Mail" bills (one's under consideration here in Maryland), and an EcoConsumer's Bill of Rights.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

New Federal Guidelines for Disposal of Prescription Drugs

On Tuesday, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a press release announcing new guidelines for proper disposal of prescription drugs.

The webpage with the guideline details includes a video clip demonstrating one way to prepare no-longer-needed drugs for disposal.

The guidelines recommend checking for local community take-back programs for prescription drugs -- the Division of Solid Waste Services does not offer this, and I am not aware of any other take-back opportunities in the greater Washington, DC, area. (If you do, please let me know!)

Our instructions for prescription drug disposal -- which mirror the Federal ones -- are on our website. We also have a few medicine recycling organizations included in our Use It Again guide.

Please remember to avoid "sea burial" in your toilet or sink for most medications. Why? Because it's best to keep those drugs out of our waste water stream, and ultimately our environment.