January 12, 2023
A new year starts off full of possibilities. If one of your goals this year includes going green to create less waste for our landfills, it’s important to know exactly what to do with your waste, recyclables, and food scraps. How do you know what to throw where?
To get a better understanding of what is recyclable, how to compost food scraps, or where to bring old bulk items or electronics, make sure you know what goes where before you start.
You’re looking around your living room and picturing a whole new set - couches, small tables – the works. And you want to clean out that bookshelf full of old books you’ll never read again. But the furniture company will only deliver, not dispose of your old furniture. And, what about those books?
If your furniture, books, and other bulk items are still in decent shape, try to sell, give away, or even swap your old stuff for new, gently-used, items. Here are some popular websites that encourage users to buy, sell, or swap reusable goods:
BookMooch is a free online exchange community where users can give away and get books via points. Users receive a point for every book they give away, which they can use to get any book listed on BookMooch. Users have the option of keeping the new books in their collection or re-listing it to give to another user when they are done with it.
The Freecycle Network is made up of more than 5,000 groups with more than 7.6 million members across the globe. Rather than congesting landfills with reusable goods, Freecycle enables users to give and get these items for free. Each group is organized and managed locally by volunteers, so find a group near you and sign up to be a member. Membership is free and everything posted must be free, legal, and appropriate for all ages.
Listia is an auction site for users to give and get items for free. Instead of buying and selling with money, Listia users use credits that can be earned by signing up, listing their items to give away, or inviting new users. To rack up more credits and bid on other goods, post your reusable items for other users to bid on.
Sites like Swap.com, Poshmark, and threadUP are online consignment shops for women’s and kids’ clothing and accessories. The site features clothing from mainstream brands such as J. Crew, Free People, GAP, H&M, Nike, Michael Kors and Forever 21.
If you can’t sell it, nobody wants it, or you know that it’s best to dispose of it, contact your town or village and ask if there are any bulk pick-up dates on the calendar.
Before you get to the big stuff, you decide to start small. We get it. You’re constantly sorting through the trash and recycling because your family members are tossing items where they shouldn’t be. But are you sure you know what goes where?
Plastic carryout bags were banned back in March 2020, however, we still see plastic bags everywhere. Not only should plastic bags NOT go into the recycling bin, but they also should not go in the trash bin either. Many local retailers have bins that accept plastic bags and other plastic films for recycling.
The plastic film also includes zip-top bags, bubble wrap, and plastic wrap, so save up those plastic film items and drop them off to be recycled. The recycled plastic film can be made into composite lumber that is used for benches, decks, and playground sets.
Avoid Recycling Contamination
Throwing recyclables into the bin is great, but make sure you know what is really supposed to go in the bin so you can avoid recycling contamination. This occurs when anything other than what is designated for the recycling bin ends up with other recyclables. Contaminating the recycling bin causes a slow down and can damage sorting machines or endanger workers on the line.
Avoid Disposal Mistakes
Just like tossing a plastic bag into a recycling bin is a no-no, tossing your old or outdated electronics into your trash is also a mistake. Electronic waste (or e-waste) was banned from being tossed into landfills in New York State back in 2015. Rockland County has a site where electronic waste is accepted, and some retailers also collect e-waste, so be sure to know where to bring it.
If going green is your goal in 2023, a great way to do that is through water conservation and food scrap composting. To help reduce the amount of waste in our landfills, food scrap composting is something that can be done at home. Rain barrels are also a great way to conserve water by collecting rainwater for plants or gardens.
Rockland County and Cornell Cooperative Extension have partnered to offer compost bins and rain barrels at cost for Rockland residents.
How to Get Started
Going green can be a fun activity involving the whole family. Reward your children when they recycle correctly or earn some green from the gently-used furniture pieces you’re replacing. As long as you have the right tools and keep at it, you and your family will be going green in Rockland County in no time.
If you have any questions about going green, Rockland Green is the resource for you. Contact us with any questions you may have.