Consider Composting!

Posted by on Apr 30, 2018 in Adult Outreach, General, Learning Center

Food waste and yard waste together make up about 25% of what we throw away.  That means almost ¼ of what we toss can be composted!  We can recycle nutrient-rich “stuff” like leaves, twigs, grass clippings, weed and shrub cuttings, garden waste, and food waste back into the soil by letting nature do her thing. Composting reduces the need to water because of organic matter’s great water-holding capacity.  This can be a real money saver if you are on city water.  Compost can also replace the need for chemical fertilizers, improve soil structure (which cuts down on erosion), increase yields of fruit and vegetable gardens, and it can be fun! There are many different styles of composting, but they will all result in rich organic material that can be a great soil amendment.  And the best news is that compost happens…you can’t mess it up.  In fact, composting can be as easy as burying food scraps other than meats in your garden or flowerbeds.  Be sure you dig a hole at least 1′ deep and cover the scraps with 8″ or more of soil so animals will leave them alone. If you want to make compost that you can spread, here are the basics. Pick whichever method works for you. 1.  Bin or Pile – Deciding which one to use will depend on how fancy or neat you want your compost to be.  If appearance is a consideration, you might prefer to keep it contained in a bin or store-bought composter.  A bin can also help to keep the pile from spreading as they will tend to do over time.  Bins can be pallets lined up to made a box, plastic bins, chicken wire, or a trash can with no bottom and air holes in the sides.  A pile should be at least 3’x3’ and preferably more like 6’x6’. 2.  Location – A pile or bin should be kept in a somewhat shaded area so that it won’t dry out so quickly. It is also important to keep it close the where you will eventually use the compost.  Some people choose to put the pile where they plan to plant next year’s crops so the finished compost can be spread right where it is.  You may also want to have your bin near the kitchen since you will probably incorporate a lot of food scraps. 3.  Tools – Basically all you need is a pitchfork to turn and aerate the compost.  A compost thermometer is sometimes helpful, as well. 5.  Recipe – Start with bare soil.  Exposed soil allows the flora and fauna living in the soil to travel into your compost and aid in the decomposition of the material. In general, a compost pile is made in layers of brown and green materials.  The exposed soil serves as the first layer of brown material.  Add a layer of “green”...

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Battery Basics

Posted by on Apr 4, 2018 in Household Hazardous Waste, Learning Center, Recycling

Batteries! In our technology-rich society, it seems we rely on them more than ever. But, what do you do with them when they die? Disposal options for batteries are determined by the type of battery you want to get rid of. So, here’s what you should know… Rechargeable and button batteries should always be recycled. They contain materials like Lithium, Nickel Cadmium, and Mercury. Most rechargeable and button batteries will display a picture of a trash bin with a line through it indicating that they should not be thrown away. The chemicals they contain are considered hazardous and must be properly disposed of to avoid contamination of our water, air and soil. Thankfully,  rechargeable and button batteries are very easy to recycle–many local stores (Best Buy, Lowes, Target, Menards, RadioShack, etc.) will accept and recycle them. Here’s a list of local recycling options for these types of batteries. Lead-acid batteries (automotive, lawn mower, etc.) are also very recyclable. As their name suggests, these batteries contain lead and acid; both of which are considered hazardous. Many auto service centers and auto parts stores (Big O Tires, Indy Tire, Interstate Batteries, NAPA Auto Parts, etc.) will accept these batteries for recycling (list). Alkaline batteries (non-rechargeable) have been reformulated and are not considered hazardous.  These types of batteries are safe to be disposed of with your normal trash.  There is a small amount of recoverable metal in them that can be recycled where programs exist. There are a couple of nearby recycling options for alkaline batteries. Alkaline batteries are no longer accepted for recycling during the District’s Tox-Away Day events; any alkaline batteries brought to Tox-Away Day are...

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Latex Paint Disposal

Posted by on Mar 9, 2018 in Learning Center

Unwanted or unusable latex paint seems to be everywhere. Many of us inherit a less-than-desirable collection of it when we buy a house–leftovers from the previous owners. The good news is latex paint is non-toxic and doesn’t require any special disposal (so please don’t bring it to Tox-Away Day…doing so slows down the line & increases the District’s cost to provide the events…). Once it’s been dried out, local trash haulers will pick it up with your normal household trash. But, there is a better way! Avoiding the need to dispose of that paint is a much better option. So, here are some quick tips to help you do just that. BUY IT RIGHT–the best way to avoid having leftover paint you don’t want is to buy the correct amount to begin with. Consult an online paint calculator or ask the representative at the paint counter for help figuring what you’ll need. STORE IT RIGHT–extreme temperatures will ruin paint! If possible, store paint in an interior closet. Be sure the lids are on tightly. You can even store the cans upside down and allow the paint itself to form an airtight seal against the lid. USE IT UP–before throwing paint away you no longer want, consider giving it another life. Maybe a neighbor or non-profit can use it (Habitat ReStore in Avon will accept usable latex paint in full or nearly full containers. They also sell a line of recycled paint–it’s good stuff at a very good price!). Or, perhaps it would make a perfect primer for your next painting project. If you must throw some paint away, simply add sand or clay-based cat litter to the paint until there are equal parts of absorbent and paint. Stir until well mixed. Place the uncovered container in a well-ventilated area until the mixture hardens. Then dispose of the uncovered container with your regular trash (leaving the containers uncovered lets your trash hauler know that the paint has been hardened).  TIP:  when drying paint from a container that is more than half full, line a sturdy cardboard box with a garbage bag. Alternate between pouring absorbent and paint into the lined box until the paint container is empty. Stir until mixed and let it harden. Click to watch our Latex Paint Drying Video Demonstration (yes, it is as exciting as it sounds…) Oil-based paints, stains, varnishes, lacquers, etc. should be disposed of at a Tox-Away Day. We accept these (and many other materials) free-of-charge at the...

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Electronics Recycling

Posted by on Jan 3, 2018 in Learning Center

Did you notice how many electronic devices were given as gifts during the holidays? It’s true that electronics comprise an ever-increasing proportion of what we throw away. We have seen a huge increase in a number of electronics we receive at our Tox-Away Days. In fact, in 2017, we received and recycled over 100,000 pounds of e-waste through that program–a 19% jump over the previous year. Fortunately, there are options for safe disposal of electronics in Hendricks County. Below, we’ll explain an easy way to connect to those recycling options. First, let’s talk about why it is so important to recycle your electronic gadgetry. Electronics make up about 1-2% of the waste stream (what we put in the trash). A greater issue is the rate at which this portion of the waste stream is increasing and the toxicity of those items. Electronic waste is the fastest growing portion of the waste stream! What’s more, CRT’s (cathode ray tube) TVs and computer monitors contain many toxic substances including lead, mercury and cadmium. To protect our air, soil and groundwater from those contaminants, most electronics cannot be disposed of in a landfill or incinerator. Local electronics recyclers include Goodwill, Best Buy, Staples, Electronics Recyclers International, NuGenesis, Office Depot and Ray’s Recycling Transfer Station. You should always contact the recycling organization directly for details about their specific program prior to delivering your items. A couple of notes on recycling televisions:  not all electronics recyclers will accept TVs for recycling. Those that do will charge $20 or more to take them. (The District charges $20 or $25 per television (depending on size) at our Tox-Away Day events.) Need help recycling other post-holiday leavings? Visit our Online Recycling Directory.  Once there, select the item you have and your local options will populate....

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Green Halloween

Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 in Learning Center

Halloween unofficially kicks off the season of celebrations. This is a great time to reduce garbage by using all of those other R’s you know so well (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink). So, start the season off right with these Green Halloween tips. Junk A Pumpkin – Think bent silverware, excess crafting supplies, game pieces, puzzle piece, screws, springs, doll hair… Up until now, these have been those items you have laying around that you didn’t know what to do with. Now you do! Check out this blog and video for some simple but creative ideas. Some of those bobbles and bits that are filling your junk drawer are also great scarecrow decorations! Un-decorate and Eat it – Choose a cooking pumpkin to decorate. Once you are finished with the decorated pumpkin, take off the easy-to-remove reusable decorations and make some pumpkin pie. Yum! Compost – Make sure to cut up the unused portions of your pumpkin and put them in your compost pile. Don’t have one? We can help you learn right here. Tricks for Toting Treats – Go ‘Charlie Brown’ and opt for the good ole pillowcase, reuse your plastic pumpkin, make a t-shirt bag, or use your reusable grocery bags to carry your treats. Bonus: Reusable bags hold more treats! Make your Own Costume – Have you seen the prices of costumes? There are many cool ideas online. Pinterest tons of great ideas. Bring Nature Indoors – Nature is a wonderful place to find decorations that bring the colors and smells of fall indoors to enjoy. Acorns, dried beans and corn, corn husks, gourds, pine cones, leaves, and twigs with brightly-colored berries make beautiful centerpieces. Since Halloween is just the beginning of our holiday celebrations, there are many other opportunities for greening your holidays. Like us on Facebook for more tips as the season rolls...

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