According to the EPA, Americans made 250 million tons of trash in 2010. 85 million tons were recycled/composted (up from 15 million tons in 1980). That's a 34.1 percent recycling rate. This prevented the release of approximately 186 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air in 2010-equivalent to taking 36 million cars off the road for a year.
Trash also effects the communities close to the landfills. It leaches toxins into the surrounding soil and water and contaminates the air when incinerated. The majority of landfills and incinerators are neighbors to the poor, elderly, and minorities. This is socially unjust.
Because we all have different trash and different priorities, the best way to define this goal is to pick one area of trash to address. Below are some suggestions to help accomplish a personal goal.
Reduce: Shop less, spend more time outside than in stores. Only buy what is needed. When buying, buy recycled material, buy bio-degradable material, buy re-useable instead of disposable and buy items without hazardous ingredients (cleaning supplies, pesticides, etc.). Don't buy new things when old things still work.
Reuse: Composting- yard trimmings and food make up 27 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. That's a lot of waste to send to landfills when it could become useful and environmentally beneficial compost instead. Visit yard sales and/or have yard sales. Donate unwanted items to area thrift shops, Shenandoah Women's Shelter. ReStore is a Habitat for Humanity based shop in Martinsburg where one can buy and/or donate gently used construction items. Up-cycling is using something for which it was not intended. For example, make a re-usable bag by sewing the bottom of an old t-shirt together.
Recycle: Check www.earth911.com for listings of local places to recycle a variety of things. Take paper/cardboard to the Halltown Paper plant. Goodwill takes regular household donations and also computers.Some recycling will pay cash! Cash in metal to ConServit in Hagerstown, Md. Or start a brigade at www.terracycle.net with things like plastic storage bags, drink pouches, corks, yogurt containers and more.
Some places charge a fee for recycling- but pledge to zero landfill when dropping off electronics: freedomrecycling.com in Williamsport, Md. and e-End in Frederick, Md. (eendusa.com).
The big box stores recycle. Best Buy takes various electronics including computers, cell phones, cables, etc... Staples takes business supplies including ink and toner cartridges (one earn money back for these) and batteries- rechargeable and most others under 12 pounds. Home Depot recycles batteries and light bulbs
*The Jefferson County Transfer Station (landfill) will take most recyclable items and send them to a sorting facility in Baltimore, Md. Jefferson County Solid Waste Authority is located at 332 Jefferson Orchard Road ,Kearneysville.
There is a great festival happening a few towns over: The Boonsboro Greenfest is recycling the following items on Saturday, May 11 at Shafer Park: ARC of Washington County - Cardboard, newspapers and aluminum; Boonsboro High School Band Boosters - Musical instruments; Boonsboro High School Environmental Club - Ink cartridges, cell phones, hand-held electronics; Bikes of the World - Bikes and sewing machines; Booksavers - Books, magazines, textbooks and encyclopedias; Boonsboro Lions Club - Eyeglasses and cases; Cats Paw Organic Farm - Plastic flower pots and nursery trays; Conservit - Scrap metal recycling; Cork ReHarvest - Wine corks; Cotton from Blue to Green - Used denim, including jeans and jackets; Crazy Crayon Recycle Program - Unwanted, rejected, broken crayons made in the USA; Earthworks - Gift cards, store cards, credit cards (may be cut up or shredded); Horizon Goodwill - Wheelchairs and metal walkers, crutches and canes; Keefauver Dry Cleaners - Wire clothes hangers; Nike - Sneakers (all brands, any condition); Purr Haven - Care and lawnmower batteries; Recycled Crochet - Colored, plastic newspaper delivery bags; Ring Leader Recycling Program - Plastic, six-pack rings; Turn the Page Bookstore & All-Shred - Paper shredding from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. (limit four boxes); Valley Co-Op - Canning jars and lids, and egg cartons; Washington County Recycling - Three stations:Television sets (no consoles), rechargeable batteries, block Styrofoam, strings of holiday tree lights, and coated electrical wire and household recyclables: cardboard, paper, glass, metal and #1-7 plastics; Washington County Sheriff's Department - Unwanted prescription drugs, including lotions and drops, and over-the-counter medications. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. only.
One man's trash is another man's treasure. If there is something you need and could use the community's help in collecting it, please let us know.