ALBANY: Debbie Jackson, who works in solid waste reduction and
recycling for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation,
gave real, concrete, specific suggestions for how each of us
can reduce the amount of waste we produce at the June Save the
Pine Bush Vegan/Vegetarian Lasagna Dinner at the First Presbyterian
Church in Albany.
Open dumps and burning was the method widely used
to dispose of garbage up until the 1980’s until the Mobro brought
attention to the solid waste issue. The Mobro 4000, or the garbage
barge, was made famous in 1987 for hauling the same load of trash
along the east coast of North America from New York to Belize
before finally being able to dispose of the garbage by incinerating
it in Brooklyn. Garbage in New York State is disposed of in waste-to-energy
plants, and landfills, and garbage is exported to Pennsylvania,
Kentucky and Illinois.
Ms. Jackson discussed different methods that individuals
can use to reduce, reuse and recycle solid waste.
At the grocery store, bring canvass bags for purchases,
and if you do get plastic grocery bags, be sure to reuse them.
Some grocery chains, such as Hannaford, recycles plastic and
paper bags. If your store does not recycle bags, fill in a comment
card and ask for recycling.
Instead of paper towels use sponges or rags, rather
than disposable paper. Sterilize by washing in the dishwasher
or use vinegar. Also, paper napkins and towels can be composted.
Buy in bulk to reduce packaging and buy locally.
Print on both sides of the paper.
At work, bring your own lunch and put that sandwich
in a reusable container. Not only do you save on plastic bags
or wrap, the sandwich won’t get smushed. Make sure your bring your own
utensils and dishes to work so that you do not need to use throw-away
Styrofoam is made from a non-renewable resource
be recycled. The best way to deal with styrofoam is write to
the company using it and tell them you will not buy their products
that contain styrofoam.
Recycling turns one thing into something new.
Paper is a wonderful thing to recycle. For example, Marcal toilet
paper is made from Niskayuna junk mail. In reference to the recycled
toilet paper, Ms. Jackson emphasized “No point in flushing a tree down
People should push to recycle construction debris.
The Salvation Army recycles clothing that cannot be sold. To
promote recycling, buy recycled products.
Plastic containers have numbers assigned The most
common plastics are #1 and #2. #3 is vinyl and is no longer recycled.
Ms. Jackson passed around a polo shirt made from recycled soda
bottles. It looked like a regular cotton shirt. Laws do not allow
recycled plastic to be in contact with food. Soda bottles are
recycled into polar fleeces.
Metals can be recycled. For example the energy
it takes to make one aluminum soda can is the equivalent of running
a TV for three hours.
Batteries can be recycled. Ink-jet cartridges
can be recycled, some schools will take them. Cell phones can
be recycled by bringing them back to where they were purchased.
And that brings us to the “worm bin” that Ms. Jackson
brought with her. 40% of stuff thrown away is organic garbage,
and can be composted. Ms. Jackson keeps this worm bin in her
house - right now, on top of the good soil, one can see the remains
of last nights Chinese food dinner. As Ms. Jackson paws through
the bin she speaks about how these red wiggly worms turn last
night’s rice into rich compost.