"You have one life and, like a tree, you can create abundance, a profusion. You are a known positive. No need to think of yourself as misplaced in the natural world, or that you cause destruction with your presence. Accept that deep in your heart and mind. Then go forward. Be successful. We hope to enjoy all that you share. And tell your children that things are looking up." -- William McDonough and Michael Braungart; The Upcycle
While there is an unprecedented amount of material going into landfills today, there are many opportunities to put items to beneficial use. Browse our website for some ideas to do so; this blog will inform you of the magnitude and character of bulk disposal in Vermont and the United States.
Landfilling in Vermont
In 2018, there were 422,258 tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) disposed of in Vermont. This doesn't include construction and demolition (C&D) disposal, and 70% of MSW and C&D in Vermont go to the state's only landfill in Coventry. Casella Waste Systems owns and operates the 78-acre landfill which is undergoing a proposal to expand 51 acres which would extend it's capacity for 22 years, depending on the amount of waste generated and accepted. Some materials in Vermont also end up in a New Hampshire landfill.
Landfilling in the U.S.
The following is taken directly from the Save On Energy web page on landfills:
With Earth Day (April 22) past and Green Up Day approaching (May 4), you are encouraged to rummage through your home and look for items that might need special recycling—at no cost to you! Items like household batteries, paint, or electronics (e-waste), and more can be dropped off at certain locations for free. Anyone have an old computer hanging around?
These items cannot be recycled in our regular recycling bins and should NOT be thrown into the trash! Vermont has something called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) that covers the cost of managing these products at the end of their useful life. Please visit https://dec.vermont.gov/waste-management/solid to learn more what is included in EPR and to find out what can be recycled and where!
Any pick up of litter near your location or other problem areas (roadsides and parks, especially near rivers) is of great help. Keep Vermont beautiful by participating in Green Up Day and reducing your trash initially!
Green bags provided for this purpose can be dropped off for free on Saturday, May 4 at the Rutland Subaru dealer at 128 US-7, Rutland, VT 05701 or any transfer station. Anyone can pick up bags in front of the Rutland City Offices between 8 – 11 AM on May 4. The Rutland Regional Transfer station is at 14 Gleason Road, Rutland, VT 05701 and is open from 7 AM – 3 PM Monday through Saturday.
We’ve all heard that in order to save our planet, we have to reduce our impact on the Earth, but that’s not enough. Making a positive impact that sequesters greenhouse gases, promotes biodiversity and restores equilibrium to our ecosystems will provide sustenance and beauty for the next generations of the world’s inhabitants.
“Worms consume food and, through the system of their bodies, produce richer nutrients. You, through the system of your intelligence, can create richer nutrients too.”
–William McDonough, The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability–Designing for Abundance
Take pallets for example:
In order to reduce our impact, we prevent them from going to the landfill by grinding them up to be used in the McNeil biomass facility near Burlington to provide electricity, thus reducing the need for fossil fuels! This is a great step, but the processing and transportation of the pallets uses fossil fuels, and gasifying them in the biomass plant produces some greenhouse gases still. When the goal of a project is to reduce the impact on the environment, that doesn’t mean the impact will be eliminated!
Imagine a different path- pallets are reused/repurposed into household furniture, community compost systems, etc… They might not end up offsetting the use of fossil fuels directly, but there is less need for new furniture, and this puts another use and meaning to the life of a pallet. Then, they could be turned into fuel once the furniture is no longer needed. Meanwhile, there are friends, family, neighbors and strangers that are exposed to this radical idea of creativity with discarded resources! They can take that inspiration to benefit themselves and their communities, furthering the positive impact you’ve made.
We all need to consume items that fulfill our needs, but challenging what is wanted in excess can be liberating of your stress, wallet and our environment. Check out this flow chart of how to make the most of resources so they can benefit you, your community and the Earth. Where do you have an opportunity to intervene with wasting of resources? Credit: Post-Landfill Action Network
There is no “away.” Everything that get’s thrown away will end up influencing our air, water, land and food; it’s up to you to decide whether that’s a negative influence or a positive one (or whether to throw something away at all). Sharing ideas and questions with each other will always inspire and encourage us to try something new to make use of what we acquire.
If you’re ever in a tizzy over how to use/dispose of something, give us a call! We have experts ready to give advice on how to make the most of your stuff- (802) 775-7209.
The Environmental Assistance Office is launching three new Sustainability Cohorts in the dairy products, brewing, and specialty foods sectors. We would welcome your help in identifying and recruiting businesses for which this program would be a good fit. Ideal businesses are those that are small- or medium-sized, or that are undergoing a period of transition/expansion. Below is a brief description that you could pass on to potential businesses.
Jump-start your business’ green journey, or take it to the next level, by participating in a Sustainability Cohort. Cohorts provide in-depth technical assistance, training, good PR, and some funding assistance to a group of 5-10 businesses in the Dairy Products, Brewing, and Specialty Foods sectors who commit to specific, measurable goals in energy, water, waste, and wastewater. Over the course of a year-long tracking period, participating businesses meet regularly for workshops, information-sharing, and networking. You’ll get free on-site technical assistance on sustainability from Env. Assistance Office and energy from Efficiency Vermont as you work towards meeting your environmental improvement goals in the context of a supportive and collaborative community of peers. Workshop topics will include environmental data management and reporting, wastewater, asset management, and an energy kaizen event, and/or other topics of interest to participants.
Find out when we are coming to your transfer station and bring your batteries, bulbs, paint and more! When we drop these items off at the right place, we save money for our families and towns. Events begin as soon as April 13!
April collection schedule: April 13-Castleton (8 – 11:30 AM) and Poultney (12 – 3 PM) Transfer Stations April 20-Killington Transfer Station (8 AM – 12 PM) April 27-Brandon (8 – 11 AM) and Pittsford (12 – 3 PM) Transfer Stations
GREEN UP DAY- First Saturday in May
On Saturday, May 4, we’ll gather as a community to pick up roadside trash in Rutland County. Last year, over 22,000 volunteers collected more than 55,000 bright green bags of trash statewide. This year, we hope to have more volunteers than ever! Green Up Vermont is on the charitable section of the Vermont State income tax form IN-111 in section 6. Please consider supporting Green Up Vermont through a donation on your state tax form. Because Green Up Vermont is a non-profit organization, programs like Green Up Day are only possible with public contributions. To learn more, visit www.greenupvermont.org and contact your town coordinator.
Be sure to get in touch with the Rutland County Solid Waste District if you have any questions about proper disposal: (802) 775-7209; www.rcswd.com.
Polystyrene (PS) is a petroleum-derived material that is labeled #6 for it's recycling code (located on the bottom of most plastics). PS comes in the form of flexible plastic (cups, wares), and hard, brittle foam (packaging, and loose-fill packing peanuts). The latter is Expanded Polystyrene (EPS); StyrofoamTM is the brand name of many foam materials. A more detailed account of what Polystyrene is can be found at this website.
What do I do with it?
Polystyrene is NOT recyclable at any location within our district. Some places in VT or Massachusetts will accept it by mail to be recycled, and you must pay the shipping costs. Due to the low density (high volume), it can cost a lot to ship.
There are a few ways to attempt to reuse EPS. Check out the Trash Backwards blog for that and other material repurposing ideas!
-YOUR HEALTH: and your children's... Along with the many other plastics that have negative effects on our bodies, especially avoid polystyrene packaging and cups to consume food/drink from. Polystyrene is a known endocrine disruptor, and has high-likelihood of contributing to cancer. Putting hot food/drink in the containers will cause even more migration from foam to your body.
-ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH: As seen in the photograph at the top of the page, foamed polystyrene tends to break down easier than any other plastic. These small particles get into bodies of water, bodies of animals, and then again- our bodies... This is visibly obvious to most people, but here's an interesting article on its effects on our environment.
There are few reasons TO use polystyrene. Cheap costs to the individual or business require large subsidies from governments to provide treatment care for the litter and health problems that occur as a result. Check out the alternatives to polystyrene below that are just as effective (and can even cost less).
Alternatives to Polystyrene:
Bring Your Own Container
Or better yet, pack your lunch or meal when you go out of the house. That way you can avoid all the disposal of materials that come with restaurants and to-go food (and you know what's in the food). Glass jars/tupperware are reusable as long as they last, and don't leach chemicals into the contents. Even though you pay more initially, they save you money over time!
If it is necessary for your business to use to-go materials, then at least go for items that have a better impact. To-go containers aren't usually recyclable, but they could have lower embodied energy, health, and litter impacts. Only certain types of containers are compostable, but they usually end up in the car or at home anyways. It's hard to say which types of products have lower environmental impacts, but regarding the customer's health,paper-based packaging is almost certainly better.
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