Coat hangers; empty, plastic pretzel containers from Tractor Supply; a fairly-new Christmas tree still in the box; and cookbooks are items offered on the Hancock County group on freecycle.org, which is an international sharing movement whose emphasis is reuse. I like that no item is too humble to share for free in my county. It speaks volumes about our local culture.
One offer from Washington, D.C., on Freecycle was particularly revealing about culture: someone was giving away back issues of Saveur Magazine, which “is a magazine for people who experience the world through food first.”
It’s estimated in the United States, we waste 30 to 40 percent of food. The Environment Programme of the United Nations states, “In the USA, organic waste is the second-highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions.”
Food waste doesn’t have to be composted with turning and timing for it to be useful as compost. Simply throw it into the hedge, around bushes and trees, near the fence line. Your plants will appreciate it and so will your soil.
The U.S. uses 25 percent of the world’s resources. If “to whom much is given, much is expected” applies, what are we doing here at home to recycle the 50 percent of world waste our consumer-based economy creates, even though the U.S. is only 6 percent of the world population?
According to Dede Allender, the Education Coordinator of the Hancock County Solid Waste Management District (HCSWMD), there are many opportunities to recycle in Hancock County. You may discover them at recyclehancockcounty.com.
Besides hazardous waste events hosted twice a year, the waste management district provides plastic collection at area garden centers in the coming months and will loan recyclable collection bins to those who might need them for events.
Recycling isn’t free from private trash collection operators in Hancock County, but the cost is nominal. CGS Services allows drop-in, co-mingled recycling at their Greenfield location for 25 cents a bag. The only requirement is to be a resident of Hancock County.
Plastic bags are accepted at grocery and department stores for recycling. There are donation boxes sprinkled everywhere collecting clothes, newspapers and more. If everyone took advantage of these, the 28 percent of U.S. landfill waste made up of paper and cardboard would not be necessary.
Estates can be liquidated through auction houses. Unwanted items are always welcome at Goodwill. In May, the National Road Yard Sale on U.S. 40 is sponsored by Greenfield Main Street. And there is the ubiquitous Saturday garage sale in which someone’s junk becomes someone else’s treasure.
These are responsible measures for reuse. You don’t have to be an environmental warrior to care about preserving resources and reducing landfill. It’s not a political choice to recycle; it’s a smart choice.
Earth Day is April 22. I hope this once a year celebration isn’t like the Easter holidays, by which I mean recycling or going to church has to happen more than one day of the year for it to be meaningful.
Each of us needs to ask ourselves as individuals; households; business owners; stadium, facility and movie house managers; churches; restaurants; parks, government offices; retail venues: what can we do to reduce, reuse and recycle?
I must hazard a word of caution, however. In Lisbon, Portugal, on freecycle.org, a “Microondas avariado — não aquece e sem pratowas” is being given away. Sounds beautiful, but it translates to: microwave, defective, no heat and no dish.
I suppose reuse has its limits. On second thought, that microwave could make a great safe.
Donna Steele of Greenfield is a member of a variety of community organizations aimed at bettering the city, including Greenfield Main Street and the Greenfield Coalition.