Archive for the ‘Where to recycle everything — and other trash talk’ Category

Of Super Recycling, Acai berry come-hither offers, and Christmas wrap

January 5, 2009

I apologize for the blog’s hiatus. I was on vacation but am now back — with a bunch of topics to deal with.

So toot sweet (so to speak):

big-blue-cart1.JPG*If you regularly have way more recycling than will fit in your blue cart, you may be pleased to hear about the city’s latest offering — a mega blue recycling cart.

It’s the size of the city-provided green trash carts — 96 gallons.

That should be able to easily handle most people’s recycling each week.

One thing, though: The cart ain’t free. (Is anything?) If you want it, you’ll have to plunk down $54. For an extra $11, the city will deliver it to your house. That one-time cost will be in addition to the $42 recycling fee that residential property owners in the city are charged each year.

To order one of the super recycling carts, call the city at 433-1329 (1FAY) or stop by the city’s solid-waste department at 455 Grove St. or go to this city Web site.

The city ordered 250 of the super carts and has sold a few already. If the first batch sells out, it may order more, depending upon demand.

acai.jpg*A reader just called to recount how both she and her daughter had been taken in by an online ad for an “amazing!” weight-loss product — the currently hot, hot, hot acai berry.

J.M. said she’d seen an ad for an acai-berry product through her e-mail and decided “what the heck” and she ordered it. “Who doesn’t want to lose a few pounds?” she said.

Plus, it seemed cheap — something like $34.95 for a month’s worth of pills, plus $4.95 shipping and handling.

Then, though, she got her credit-card statement and saw she’d been billed another $80, which she said was for some kind of fitness program. Apparently, she’d missed the fine print that mentioned that was part of the deal, too — and that it would be a monthly cost.

She hadn’t realized she’d agreed to get the pills monthly, either — for another monthly fee.

After much telephoning and haranguing and discussing, J.M. got the contracts canceled but was out the first set of monthly costs. During the whole mess, she learned her daughter had, on her own, gotten unwittingly involved in a similar acai-berry program that came with extra costs.

She wanted to alert people so here: Read the fine print, people! Ask questions before you buy. Make sure you understand what you’re committing to. There are often additional costs hidden away in this kind of thing.

Here’s an ABC News reporter’s account of her and her husband’s brief foray into acai-berry programs. Here’s a brief, brief bit on the acai berry from the Mayo Clinic.

dont-burn-wrapping-paper.JPG*Speaking of recycling: Unfortunately, W.P. e-mailed me a Christmas-related recycling question after I’d already left for vacation. He wanted to know if it was OK to burn wrapping paper.

I suspect he’s dealt with his wrapping paper by now but I figured I’d get this info out anyway: No, you shouldn’t burn wrapping paper. Because it’s paper, it ignites quickly. Duh. After all, isn’t fire what you’re after?

In this case, though, the resulting fire could be so intense, so hot and so big that it ignites a fire in your chimney or in your house.

old-boombox.jpgMeanwhile, in a pre-Christmas column that I wrote before going on vacation, I told M.R. how to recycle smaller electronics, including TVs and boom boxes. Office Depot has such a program. Read the linked column for info and go to this Office Depot site for even more info about it.


If your trash, recycling or yard waste is picked up on Thursdays…

December 16, 2008

trash-pickup.jpeg…or, in the case of yard waste, on Fridays, too, here are some schedules for city residents to be aware of as we head toward the last Thursday and Friday before Christmas and New Year’s Day (which fall on consecutive Thursdays).

Each type of pickup will be following a different schedule over the holidays so clear out what you can this week if it could be problematic.

Trash: It’s the least of your worries. If your regular pickup is Thursday, it’ll be picked up on the Fridays after Christmas and New Year’s Day.

blue-bin.jpgRecycling: This caused a lot of confusion at Thanksgiving because the people with regular Thursday pickup assumed it would be picked up on Friday, just like trash. Nope. It wasn’t picked up ’til the following Thursday.

And, in fact, that’ll be the case at Christmas, too — Thursday pickup people will lose their recycling pickup Christmas week, but, if they have their bins out the following Thursday, it’ll be picked up. Yes, on New Year’s Day. Trash won’t be picked up that day, but recycling will be. The recycling is picked up by Waste Management, a private contractor.

raking-leaves1.jpegYard waste: If your yard waste is regularly picked up on Thursdays or Fridays, and it’s not out by the curb in a bin or bags by this Thursday (Dec. 18) or Friday (Dec. 19), don’t bother taking it there ’til the week after New Year’s Day. They won’t be servicing the regular Thursday or Friday pickup routes during the two holiday weeks.

For general information about the city’s sanitation programs, go here.

Recycling during the holidays

December 8, 2008

lotsa-christmas-presents.jpgWe’re coming into what has to be considered the equivalent of leaf season for recyclables: Christmas and its landslide of gift boxes and wrapping paper that could be recycled — if you could get it picked up.

bottles.jpgThat’s not to mention likely upticks in discarded glass and plastic bottles, aluminum cans, paperboard food boxes, food cans, and other recyclable packaging related to holiday parties and feasts.

In the case of many — most? — households, it’s bound to amount to more than your blue bin can handle. For one thing, gigantic cardboard boxes cannot be made to fit in the blue bins. (I’ve tried.)

Couple all that with these facts:

1. If your recyclables are typically picked up on Thursdays, you’ve got an extra bad situation over the holidays.

That’s because Christmas falls on Thursday this year and, understandably, the recycling trucks won’t be working that day. Note: Recyclables aren’t picked up by the city, but by Waste Management under a contract with the city.

But, unlike the city with its garbage trucks, Waste Management won’t make up that recycling day’s pickups on Friday or Saturday. It doesn’t have the manpower or equipment. Instead, that day of pickups is lost forever, leaving you with all those recyclables for another week. (I feel your pain; my recycling is picked up on Thursdays.)

I can hear some of you calendar-minded folks now: Agh! New Year’s Day is the very next Thursday.

But! They will be picking up recyclables on New Year’s Day. Note: This will be the deal in the future, too: If your recycling pickup day falls on any holiday except for New Year’s Day, you’re out of luck that week.

blue-bin-is-full.jpeg2. But what if you have more recyclables than your blue bin can hold?

This is already a routine problem for some households. And it’s why the city’s acquiring bigger “super” recycling bins that it will sell to interested residents. But these bins won’t be available until January, at the earliest, according to a city spokeswoman. She didn’t know what they might cost.

Meanwhile, if your recyclables don’t fit in your cart, you’re typically out of luck. They don’t have to pick up stuff left beside the cart, even if it’s in a recyclable paper bag.

one-arm-reycling-truck.jpegAnd they can’t pick it up if they’re — well, he’s — in the one-person truck. That’s the truck that has a special arm that lifts the blue bin waaayyy up in the air and shakes it out over the truck. Just one person mans that truck and, even if he had the inclination or the time, he doesn’t have the ability to toss extraneous stuff to the opening on top of the truck. I don’t know if there’s some other way to toss in extra recyclables but the guy’s on a schedule.

So… Whaddaya do?

flattened-cardboard.jpgFortunately, as in leaf season when they have loose-leaf pickup, there’ll be some slack afforded recyclers immediately after Christmas. If you flatten your cardboard and set it beside your bin on your pickup day, they’re supposed to pick it up, too, even though it won’t be in the bin.

That just applies to cardboard, though.  Other out-of-the-bin stuff will be ignored. (Supposedly.)

If you’re so inspired, you can cart other excess recyclables to a recycling center. See this post for info on where these are and what they accept. There are both county- and city-operated recycling sites. The county sites take more sorts of stuff.

reuse_reduce_recycle.jpgAll of this might put you in mind of a couple of other ways to deal with potential Christmas trash — create less of it (that way you have less to dispose of) and reuse parts that are reusable (save gift bags; reuse good wrapping paper; wrap stuff in newspaper or cloth; or use some to make a cozy fire). Those are the first two R’s in equation that includes recycling.

And they’re not bad ideas, especially in light of this disheartening news about recycling — as with the rest of the economy, markets for recyclables are slumping terribly.

Local option for recycling your CFL bulbs

September 11, 2008


If you use energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs — aka CFLs — you no longer have to (carefully) toss them in the trash when they burn out.

Instead, you can (carefully) take the bulbs to The Home Depot and the retailer will take care of (carefully) recycling them. Just take the bulbs to the returns desk. It doesn’t matter where you bought them.

The better-be-careful deal with CFLs is that they contain tiny amounts of metallic mercury, a toxic substance. It’s no problem while it’s safely contained in the bulb.

But even though there’s only enough mercury in the bulb to cover the tip of a ballpoint pen, you still don’t want to release it into your home if you can help it.

Now you don’t have to release it into the wider environment, either, by sending used bulbs to the landfill.

Meanwhile, if you do break a CFL, don’t panic. You can clean it up safely. Just follow the recommendations (don’t vacuum it up; ventilate the room for 15 minutes before going in; wear rubber gloves, etc.) at the link earlier in this paragraph or in the second response to this post.

Trash talk

July 17, 2008

I saw the new garbage-collection schedule in action this morning.

Thursday has been — and remains — our trash pickup day. Still, I should have realized things wouldn’t necessarily remain the same.

city-trash-can.jpgOf course, I forgot all about it when we got home after dark last night and were tired and the trash can still wasn’t out by the curb. In my old-schedule mindset, I thought: They usually don’t come ’til at least 9. We’ll have time to get it out there in the morning.

Think again.

Shortly after 7 this morning, as I was combining the household trash into one bag to put in the outside trash can, which I was then going to haul to the street, I heard the not-so-dulcet tones of… the garbage truck. On my street. Going the opposite direction from its usual route. And going past my house because there was no can on the curb beckoning it to stop. Agh!!! Stop! This garbage cannot sit a week in hot weather!

Luckily, they had to stop next door for the trash of my much-more-prepared neighbor. I threw the bag into the can, pulled it as fast as I could to the street (an awkward process at best), and then pulled it down the street a short distance to the truck where the very nice workers emptied it for me. Whew! Thanks!

Hopefully, we’ll be back on track next week.

The recycling truck came by about an hour after that but it wasn’t the same sort of truck as last week.

Last week’s truck was the one-man deal with the mechanical arm that lifts the blue recycling-truck.jpgrecycling cans wayyy overhead and empties them into the truck from above (like so, in the pic to the right—>). I watched as it emptied mine without problem.

A neighbor’s blue bin was another story. Recyclables (possibly cardboard) had apparently gotten wedged into the bin and wouldn’t come out as the arm shook it over the truck. The worker had to lower the arm, mess with the innards of the bin, then rearrange the bin so the arm could pick it up better. The stuff came out fine then — but a wheel fell off the bin when it was set on the ground! Whoops. The worker put it back on.

Today, the recycling truck was a regular Waste Management garbage truck that had been reassigned to recycling duty. It had two guys and the stuff got dumped quickly into the back of the truck. One told me they didn’t have enough one-arm trucks to handle all the routes.

They then moved on and emptied my neighbor’s bin. I’m happy to report that no wheels were lost in the process and I have high hopes that all of my carefully collected recyclables will actually be recycled and not just taken to the landfill.

Note: Much like T.W., I think I could use a bigger recycling bin. Mine was bursting at the seams with just a week’s worth of stuff.

Code word: Recycling

July 16, 2008

An item in today’s column refers to the numbers that are imprinted on the bottom of some plastic items inside a swirling circle of arrows.

plastic-id-recycling-codes.pngThe numbers — 1-7 — indicate the type of plastic, as well as the fact the item is recyclable (in some places).

No. 1 items are made of PET plastic — polyethylene terephthalate (soda bottles, for example); No. 2s of HDPE — high-density polyethylene (example: a regular milk jug); No. 3s of controversial PVC (example: the clear clamshells used in some specialty light-bulb packaging); No. 4s of flexible LDPE — low-density polyethylene (example: squeezable bottles); No. 5s of polypropylene (example: margarine tubs); No. 6s of polystyrene (example: meat trays and egg cartons); and No. 7s of other resins or a combination of resins (example: some citrus juice bottles and ketchup bottles).

For a more detailed look at the codes, go here.

PET’s the dominant plastic resin, by far, followed by HDPE, according to Plastics Industry News.

Where to recycle everything — including the kitchen sink (v. 2.0)

July 7, 2008


Curbside recycling starts in Fayetteville this week.

But what exactly can — and can’t — you put in those blue cans?

And what if you don’t have — and can’t get — a blue can?

And where can you recycle everything else?


Old phone books

June 16, 2008

phonebook.JPGAs per Saturday’s column, you don’t have to toss these heavy monsters in the trash. Save ’em for the blue bins if you’re in the city. If you’re in the county, you can take them to the landfill or one of the container sites for recycling.

And here, in a previous blog post, you can find out how to recycling everything — including the kitchen sink. (If you think of some other things to that list, let me know.)

I Love…

May 18, 2008


Well, I actually do. But what I’m thinking of here is something a little different. When city candyf_1.jpgsolid-waste director Jerry Dietzen was telling me about the conveyor-belt sorting system that’ll be used to separate the recyclables after they’re collected — which is part of today’s column — I had an immediate mental image of this. But I think the city’s conveyor-belt system will be a lot more efficient than this, if also a lot less funny.

Destroy all… unnecessary papers

April 15, 2008


2005-08-30_destroy_all_humans.jpgEspecially if they’ve got your personal info on them.

But how do you do that if you’ve got wayyyy more than can be reasonably handled with a home shredder?