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Maximize your composting and recycling

08/14/08 12:00PM By Jane Lindholm
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AP Photo/Lee Reich
About 30 percent of all the waste that Vermonters produce is kept out of landfills by recycling and composting. But even with that record, Vermont is creating more waste overall - seven percent more between 2000 and 2005.

So what can people do to reduce the trash they throw out, maximize their recycling and get started with backyard composting? We'll find out how to stay informed about what can be recycled, and we'll get into the science of how compost works and how to manage your own composting system at home. Our guests are Norm Staunton of the Association of Vermont Recyclers, an educational non-profit, and Jessica Sankey, a waste reduction coordinator with the Chittenden Solid Waste District. (Listen)


Also in the program, a Little League baseball team from the Upper Valley is in Cuba this week, playing ball and learning about a country with which the US has a complicated relationship. We talk with Rutland Herald reporter Bruce Edwards in Havana about the growing cultural and economic ties between Vermont and Cuba. (Listen)

And we listen back to the impressions of a few Vermont teenagers who traveled to China with the Vermont Youth Orchestra. (Listen)

 

Listener comments:

Laurie from Colchester:
I recently began conserving energy by hanging clothes on the line and preparing more of our meals without using our gas stove etc. With some embarrasment I realized that it is something that I should have been doing long before out of concern for the environment, and am only doing it now
because we need to financially. This realization has given me a new interest in finding more ways to recycle and reuse, but I'm afraid that there are many of us out there that will not take the issue of recycling seriosly until it really hurts the pocketbook and we are forced into it.

Chris from Middlebury:
In order to recycle metal items that are not acceptable in the recycling stream, I keep a sheetrock pail that goes to the Transfer Station periodically. I bought a cool lidded container with a charcoal filter in order to save trips to the composting pile. The trick for getting rid of fruit flies: form a cone of paper or manila board and place in a jar baited with cider vineger, fruit, or what have you.

Peter in Winooski:
Anyone with peanuts that they don't need can drop them off at Global Garage Sale in Winooski. We will reuse them when shipping items to our customers. All colors are OK and they don't need to be sorted.

Kellie in Williston:
Please let your listeners know that freecycle.com is a wonderful way to exchange items that otherwise might end up in a landfill.

Kathy in South Burlington:
I live in South Burlington and have been composting in my yard for 14 years. When I began, my neighbors weren't very supportive of it, but now many of them are doing it themselves too. I just have a ring of chicken wire and we throw everything except meat or meat products in it. We don't stir it, but we do throw all of the dried yard waste
in the fall. Every spring we open up the wire cage and shovel out beautiful dark compost to add to our gardens. People need to know how easy it is!

Nate, Green Mountain Kitty Litter:
There's an all-natural triple enzyme solution for skunk odor and other organic odors. It's a powder-based product that you can mix with water and spray on whatever the skunk sprayed on. If it's an outdoor area, you can put it in a garden pump sprayer to cover a wider area. Second follow up -- all-natural cat litters can be compostable for non-garden use and should not be thrown in the trash for that reason. Feces should be thrown in the trash, however. Feces shouldn't be flushed or handled by children or pregnant women.

Peter from Hartland:
I would tweak a comment by your guest who said that there isn't really a role for waste reduction in reference to organic material. It is important to remember that a large percent of food produced in the US ends up as waste - and a high percentage of that is edible food that gets all the way to the plate before being tossed in the garbage can. Given the number of people who are hungry, and the dramatic environmental and economic cost of food and energy (required to get food off the farm to the kitchen and onto the plate) - it is really important to work to reduce the amount of food that is wasted - as well as promoting environmentally sound options for managing the organics that do end up uneaten.

Lisa in Williston:
This past spring our school, the Bellwether School, held our annual Spring Festival with which Jessica Sankey participated and Earth Girl Composting consulted. With an environmental mission, we considered the event's impact as we planned every aspect of the event: from printing our meeting notes on the back of used (100% recycled printing) paper, reusing our signs as much as possible from year to year, to considering our food choices - we chose grilling local American Flatbread and serving it on brown paper towel (compostable) and bought it without the individual boxes, we chose Maple Wind sausage (from a local pasture-based farm) served on brown paper towel, we enjoyed Ben and Jerry's ice cream in cones (edible containers), we offered water, lemonade, and coffee from compostable cups (no lids). At our disposal areas, we had very well marked (with examples posted) trash, recycling, and composting containers. We also educated our guests with signs (on 100% recyled paper and saved for next year) about our choices and how they could help with our goal of zero to little trash. We had about 350 people, and produced a lot of compost, little recycling (containers people brought to the event, flatbread case boxes), and one big bag of trash (flatbread bags, and B&J's 5 gallon containers).

 

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vermont

Related Links

Dept. of Environmental Conservation compost center Composting How-To from CSWD VPR's China Project Solid waste districts around the state Association of Vermont Recyclers
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