Jul 16

Small Changes Lead To Big Impact

Posted on July 16, 2019 at 11:52 AM by Alyssa Eveland

I’d like to tell you about an encouraging conversation I had last week with a 20-something year-old who was telling me how she is doing what she can to reduce the amount of waste she personally generates.  Her name is Jessie. She is a graduate of Hobart William Smith College and is somewhat familiar with Ontario County’s landfill operations. She is aware of the March 2020 plastic bag ban. She’s also seen the recent headlines about plastic harming and killing marine life, and a recent account of an ocean diver who, upon reaching the deepest known point in the Pacific, discovered plastic bags and candy wrappers.  The current state of our environment concerns her. 

As we talked, she pointed out that she uses her own cloth grocery bags. She donates clothing or passes items to her friends, and a few years ago stopped purchasing fast fashion. Fast fashion is the style of apparel that is trendy and cheap and usually falls apart after one spin through the washing machine. We are all familiar with the worldwide retailers of this kind of clothing. She also said she has stopped using plastic straws and plastic water bottles. 

In the big scheme of things, the new habits Jessie has developed may seem like no big deal, but these small changes would add up to monumental environmental impact if people worldwide did the same. 

Let’s look at clothing. Reports show that every year the United States alone sends about 21 billion pounds of textile waste to landfills every year. And 84% of all unwanted clothes end up in landfills.  Generations ago, clothing was not casually cast off like it is today. Fashions changed, but not at the hyper speed of today’s lines. Within families, clothes were handed down from one sibling to another.

How about the ubiquitous plastic water bottle? One could easily conclude that the bottles, because they are recyclable, should have no landfill impact. That would be true if they were properly recycled. However, data shows Americans buy 29 billion water bottles a year, and that for every six bottles people buy, only one is recycled. Keep in mind, it takes at least up to 1,000 years for every single bottle to decompose.

United States landfills are overflowing with 2 million tons of discarded water bottles. And because plastics are produced with fossil fuels, not only does that make them a potential environmental hazard, but also an enormous waste of valuable resources.

Fast fashion and plastic water bottles were definitely not part of the American culture when the Ontario County landfill first opened in the early 1970s. These two waste stream elements alone are needlessly and exponentially gobbling up landfill space.  No doubt, they both provide a level of convenience and affordability to consumers, but we are paying in the end with environmental consequences. 

My chat with Jessie left me feeling hopeful that the very consumer habits that have the potential to impact our landfills could now be shifting toward obsolescence, and that a new generation of business leaders and consumers could be ushering in a greener way of thinking and living.  

Best,

Carla Jordan


Jul 03

Don’t Abandon Your Old TV

Posted on July 3, 2019 at 9:51 AM by Alyssa Eveland

Last month the Department of Sustainability and Solid Waste Management coordinated Ontario County employee participation in the County’s Adopt-A-Highway program. For those not familiar, this program assigns sections of roadways to teams of volunteers who are responsible for its visual upkeep.  A small team of County staff members came out one recent Saturday morning to clean up our designated roadway – the two-mile stretch of Co. Rd. 46 between Freshour and Smith Roads.

We had a great day!  Our efforts resulted in the collection of about 440 gallons of trash. 

Along with all that roadside litter, we were surprised to find a large flat screen television. Can you imagine what our beautiful countryside would look like if everyone tossed their TVs out this way?  

When it’s time to get rid of a television or other electronic equipment, you’ve got a variety of smarter – and legal – disposal options.

First, if the device is still in working condition, consider donating to a local donation center. 

Second, if the device can be repaired, avoid the need for disposal by getting it fixed. Check this link for our listing of local businesses that offer repair services: Electronic Repair.

Third, for those devices that are beyond repair, Ontario County has numerous drop-off locations to make it easy to recycle your unwanted electronics. Some electronics can be dropped off with no charge. Be sure to contact the drop-off location so there are no surprises. Old television models with Cathode Ray Tubes will likely require a fee.  Here’s a list of drop-off sites: Electronic Waste Drop-Off Locations

Finally, under the New York State law, manufacturers must provide a convenient and free process for folks to recycle their electronic waste. Manufacturers are not only required to take back their own brand of electronic equipment for recycling, they are also required to accept one piece of electronic waste of any manufacturer's brand if offered by a consumer with the purchase of electronic equipment, covered by the law of the same type by a consumer.  You can use the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s list of registered electronic equipment manufacturers to find manufacturers, their brands electronic equipment covered by the law, and their electronic waste acceptance program websites and contact information.  Here’s a link to the list: NYDEC Covered Electronic Equipment Manufacturers & Electronic Waste Acceptance Programs

The next time you have an old electronic device you’d like to get rid of please keep in mind the responsible disposal of these devices.

Best, Carla Jordan


Jun 04

Properly Recycled Materials Out of Our Landfill

Posted on June 4, 2019 at 10:21 AM by Alyssa Eveland

Over twenty-five years and counting. That’s how long Ontario county residents have been sorting glass, metal, paper, and other recyclables, using curbside recycling bins, and disposing of recyclables at our transfer stations. I’m proud of the efforts of our eco-friendly community.

Yet, despite our strong track record for reducing, reusing, and recycling, I am dismayed when residents express the belief that recyclables wind up in the landfill. 

Allow me to break this issue down for you. Quite simply, all properly sorted recyclables processed at our Zero Sort Materials Recovery Facility are shipped to market not to our landfill! National news coverage relative to the lack of markets and thus the disposal of recyclables in landfills is not the full reality. Yes, the Chinese ban related to the acceptance of certain recycling streams has been a hurdle for the recycling industry, however other markets for recyclables are still available and new markets have opened up to help offset this loss. We must continue to stay the course and do what’s right.

It’s important to know that the types of materials that can be recycled changes over time so residents may unknowingly be missing the opportunity to recycle certain items.  We recommend that residents visit our website with regularity to stay on top of what is and is not recyclable. Better yet, register for updates and you won’t miss out on any of our news.  

The site was developed specifically to assist residents with the dos and don’ts of recycling, as well as the hows and the wheres for managing challenging materials such as batteries, appliances, and tires. You’ll find links to videos, answers to frequently asked questions, and information about scheduled disposal events.  Oftentimes, registration for these events is required. 

I encourage you to visit the site – http://ontariocountyrecycles.org – and while you’re there, take a moment to sign up to receive important updates. And thanks for helping to protect Ontario County’s environment.

All the Best,

Carla Jordan