Earth Day reminds, how 'green' are you?
TRI-COUNTY AREA (April 17, 2012)—Earth Day is an annual reminder to improve the planet and make ourselves “greener.”
While the impacts of greener living can reduce trash or improve health, not all of the usual prescribed ways to be greener are easily implemented. One of the easiest though in the area is simply recycling.
There are several recycling services throughout the area. One is Cardinal Disposal, which operates from Branchport south into Montour Falls. President Joe Gibson said recycling has improved since a regional single-stream facility was installed in Stanley, N.Y. He said it is operated by Casella. Cardinal, which operates drop-off locations in Yates and Schuyler Counties takes their recycling to the Stanley facility.
Single-stream means that cans, bottles, and plastics can all be dumped in the same container and don’t need to be sorted by the resident or Cardinal. That way, a resident can drop off all their recycling at one of the weekly drop-off locations, which does include a small fee. Gibson said that because of people not needing to sort out the recycling, Cardinal has seen a 45 percent increase in people using their services in the last five years.
“It’s a cultural change,” added Gibson. “There’s more awareness of how to help.”
The village of Watkins Glen also offers free curbside recycling to residents. Clerk Donna Beardsley said the service became more popular, especially after they went single-stream as well. Another similar service is Dumpster Day. Donna said it is popular as well. For Watkins, residents can drop off just about everything except hazardous materials and raw garbage on May 12. Beardsley said it is covered in the village taxes so there is no upfront fee.
The Yates County Chamber of Commerce has made it easier to dispose of electronics waste, which needs to be specially recycled. Chamber representative Jody Tyler said every day around five people drop off “e-waste.” She added that last year the chamber collected 49,000 lbs. of old electronics. The chamber is also holding a recycling day Friday, April 20, to collect other items. Tyler added there will be charges for accepting some materials.
“The town cleanups are really very important,” said Marjorie Torelli, administrator of the Western Finger Lakes Solid Waste Management Authority.
One other tip Torelli had for being green on a budget was to avoid things with excess packaging. While it is a small detail, it can reduce waste.
Sarah Conley, organizer of the Watkins Glen community garden, encouraged gardening fresh vegetables as another way to be green. The garden located at the Watkins Glen elementary school offers people a chance to garden if there is no space at home. She said one cheap way to extend the growing season is to use metal hoops and a fabric to create a cover for vegetables. She said the cover only costs a few dollars total and lets people start growing sooner and later into the season. Conley explained the cover protects it from the colder weather, but the sun can still penetrate the fabric. A Penn Yan community garden is also being organized.
Conley and Torelli also suggested composting. Conley said she works with the Watkins Glen second graders to familiarize themselves with the process, which involves disposing of leftover organic waste into a bim and letting the materials break down into compost for growing more plants. However, composting requires a bin to store the waste. Torelli said one should not compost meats or oily food, because it will smell.