Be a Prince George’s Planeteer

IMG_7385-0Everyone knows that I love my hometown and I love things green. I am excited to say that Prince George’s County continues to be a leader in Maryland and in the United States when it comes to sustainable waste management. In addition to a robust recycling program, the County has a curbside yard waste program that turns dead leaves and trees into compost and mulch; they partner with organizations like Community Forklift to keep tons (and I mean literal tons) of discarded items like refrigerators, dishwashers, and toilets out of our landfills.

Lately, there has been some internet chatter about a recent County initiative to reduce trash collection from two days to one. This one move helps the County save more than 6 million dollars a year. In an informational flyer that went out this year DOE reported the following

Prince George’s County residents are diverting 64% of everything they throw away and most use only one collection day. Benefits of reduced collections include:

  • We will join neighboring jurisdictions, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, City of Baltimore, the District of Columbia, Howard and Montgomery counties in transitioning to once-a-week trash collection;
  • Allows the County to provide residents with a heavy-duty, wheeled trash toter at no additional charge– delivery to start in fall 2016;
  •  Reduce air pollution and heavy truck traf c in neighborhoods providing safer streets and less wear and tear on the roads;
  • New contract requirements will provide better, high-quality collection service with greater accountability; and
  •  Addresses deficit, forestalls fee increases and protects key cleanup programs

EarthFireWindWaterHeart! When your powers combine…

If you remember those words, then here’s your chance to serve your community and be a real Planeteer! Help keep Prince George’s looking great, by implementing some simple sustainable waste management tips.

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  1. RETHINK – Sustainable Waste Management isn’t just about money or trash pick-up times, it is about taking care of the planet that continues to provide for us. I am a spiritual person. I believe that the same creator that designed me,  designed you and all the earth around us. For many faiths, spiritual texts give clear instructions on how and why believers should take protect all creation. For instance, Bible provides plenty examples of our responsibility to be stewards over God’s creation:

    “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15)

    “You must keep my decrees and my laws…. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.” (Leviticus 18:26, 28)

    “You shall not pollute the land in which you live…. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the Israelites.” (Numbers 35:33-34)

    “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants. Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land.” (Leviticus 25:23-24)

    How we treat God’s creation is how we treat God. If we believe that our bodies are temples of God, then what does that make the land in which God’s temple resides? Being considerate of how our current habits impact natural resources and the lives of others is a great start to rethinking how we discard things. As my friends at Black Dirt Farm like to say, ” there is no such thing as trash, just materials unseen.” Reconsidering how and why we consume will have lasting effects on our planet.

2. REDUCE – Waste management doesn’t start at your trash can – it starts at the store. One of the main reasons we have so much trash is because we collect so much stuff. Finding mindful ways to reduce your human footprint will have lasting impacts on your household, neighborhood, and on the planet. Reducing how much you consume, does not always mean purchasing less or restricting yourself from having the latest trends, but sometimes it does. Taking simple steps such as bringing your own bag to the grocery store; purchasing food that requires less packaging; or reusing containers from a meal out also helps. If you’re really feeling yourself try composting non-meat food waste. Companies like Compost Cab will pick up your food scraps and create black gold (soil) for local farms and community gardens.

upcycle

3. REUSE – Before tossing a used item in the trashcan, think about what else it could become. Find creative ways to upcycle items in your home. Pinterest is a great start! Your old favorite jeans – that’s a new apron. Use spray paint to turn Grandma’s old wicker chair into the centerpiece of your backyard oasis. Bottles and glasses can be repurposed as vases, chandeliers, or even bottles and glasses. Local businesses such as Community Forklift and Prince George’s Community College hold workshops on upcycling your trash into your next treasure. If you don’t have to time for fun DIY projects, contact you neighborhood thrift store. They will come pick up the item and haul it away for you. Or trade in the items for cash.

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4. RECYCLE – Once you are certain that you are ready to let that cardboard  box go, consider, pull out your recycle bin and start pitching. Prince George’s County does single-stream recycling which allows you to put all items eligible in one bin. You may find it helpful to keep a recycling receptacle at home (similar to a kitchen trashcan). Items that are clean and free of food waste can be recycled including:

    • Cardboard
    • Glass and Plastic bottles
    • Metals and tins
    • Plastic party/disposable cups

Here is a video from the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment showing what can be included in your recycle collections.

Share your thoughts! What do you do to reduce your human footprint?

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