Tag Archives: composting

Congratulations to our 2017 SWMD grantees!

photos of books, recycling receptacle and food waste/kitchen scrapsOne of the most important things the MARC Solid Waste Management District (SWMD) does is provide financial support to organizations on the Missouri side of our region for projects that reduce the amount of material we send to landfills. The district receives funding every year from the fees collected from the landfills and transfer stations in Missouri. Half of that amount is used to fund local waste reduction, reuse and recycling projects through a grant program. So far this year, we have awarded more than $407,146 to 11 grantees.

The 2017 grant projects so far include:

  • Avenue of Life:  $59,428 to support the fourth year of a regional mattress recycling program.
  • Bridging The Gap: $81,187 to provide one-on-one consultations and assistance to businesses interested in starting new or expanding existing recycling and composting programs.
  • City of Grandview:  $23,625 to purchase a recycling trailer for events and staffing for management and education.
  • Composting and Organics Association of Missouri: $8,202 to conduct a regional composting workshop.
  • Folk Alliance: $3,608 to support staffing, signage, and recycling and composting bags for the annual conference at the Westin Hotel in Kansas City.
  • Independence Avenue Community Improvement District:  $17,500 to purchase recycling containers and bags and provide recycling education on Independence Avenue in Kansas City.
  • Kansas City Chiefs: $21,981 to purchase dual containers to collect compostables and recyclables from fans.
  • Mid-America Regional Council:  $48,267 for Recycle More advertising and outreach.
  • Project Central: $120,708 to support the third year of consultations for school composting and/or recycling programs.
  • Scraps KC: $10,881 to provide support for a newly opened creative reuse store.
  • The Rehabilitation Institute:  $11,759 to support the sale of used books online.

We are very proud of our 2017 group of grant recipients and excited about their projects. The district could not accomplish its waste diversion goals without our grantees! Visit the Solid Waste Management District’s website to learn more about the grant program.

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On the road again? Don’t forget to recycle.

You may be a master recycler at home, but what about when you’re on the road? Summer vacations are just around the corner. Wherever your travels might take you, be sure to reduce, reuse and recycle along the way.  Here are some helpful tips:

Pack it in, recycle it out Many national parks offer recycling. So whether your camping or just driving the park loop, please help keep our national parks clean and green. Photo Caption: Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National park

  • Check ahead — Planning for recycling on your road trip is just as important as remembering to pack your tooth brush and phone charger. Contact the places you’ll be staying (campground, motel, resort, etc.) to find out what recycling services they offer. Once you arrive, lodging staff should be able to direct you to a recycling location on- or off-site. Another great resource is iRecycle, an app developed by Earth911 to provide recycling information and locations for the USA, and parts of Mexico and Canada. Both EnvironmentallyFriendlyHotels.com and the Green Hotel Association can help you find lodging that offers recycling.
  • Contain it — You’ll need a way to contain your recyclables and trash while you’re on the road. Bring a container (bag, bin, etc.) for each. If you’re staying someplace that doesn’t offer recycling, bring your own container to hold recyclables until you reach someplace that does.
  • Let it rot — If you compost at home, you can compost on the road, too. Take an airtight plastic container or two to store your compostables until you get back home.
  • Reduce packaging — Space is always at a premium when you’re on the road, so choose items with little or no packaging. Avoid items that are individually wrapped. If you end up with candy wrappers or chip bags, check with TerraCycle, a company that prides itself in recycling everything.
  • Leave only small “food prints” — Eating out on the road is expensive both in terms of your pocket book and energy and resources. Pre-purchase snacks, drinks and food, keep perishables in a cooler, and visit a local grocery store when you run low.
  • Go for unique souvenirs — Consider buying goods by local artists to support the local economy and buy fair trade items when available. If you’re buying gifts for others, use your old road map or a brochure as gift wrap.
  • Pack your reusable bags — Always pack a few reusable bags for souvenirs and those on-the-road grocery stops.
  • Just say no to “Would you like a box for that?” — Remember to take plastic food storage containers for your restaurant leftovers. They’re easier to pack in a cooler than flimsy takeout containers, and they keep food fresh longer.
  • Reduce, reuse, rehydrate — Take reusable mugs and bottles for all your road trip drinks.

For information on where you can take your recyclables once you get home, visit RecycleSpot.org, Kansas City metro area’s one-stop spot for recycling, reuse and waste reduction information.

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Paper towels absorb more than spills

Without a thought, we grab a handful of paper towels to dry our hands in a public restroom or to clean up a spill in the kitchen and then we toss them in the trash. But what is the environmental cost? A lot of energy and resources go into making paper towels: harvesting the wood, processing it, bleaching it, packaging it, and transporting it — all just to reach the store! However, there is a great way to counter this resource and energy-intensive process: just say no.

papertowels-credit-SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget

In the restroom

In the old days, people used to carry cloth handkerchiefs. Today these make great paper towel substitutes. You can purchase handkerchiefs at most department stores, and a good one can last for many years. Keep one in your pocket or purse and use it when wet hands arise. If you’re worried about the dampness affecting other items, you can keep the handkerchief in a Ziploc bag between uses, or lay it out to dry on a desk. Wash handkerchiefs with the rest of your laundry.

In the kitchen

All bath towels must be retired at some point, so why not give those frayed and faded towels a second life in your kitchen? Store them in a kitchen cabinet or drawer, ready to be used the next time Junior spills his milk. Just like the hankies, these towels can go in with your laundry and serve many years as a greener, quicker picker-upper.

If all else fails, compost!

If you do end up using paper towels, they can be disposed of in your compost bin instead of the trash. Find information on composting at home on the MARC website.

For more information on waste reduction and recycling, visit RecycleSpot.org or call (816) 474-4326.

 

photo credit: SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget via photopin cc
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Food for thought — and our air

idle-free school zone

Do you take your lunch to work or go out to eat? Either way, we have some tips to make your meal sustainable and waste free so you can have your lunch and reduce your carbon footprint, too.

  • Reduce, reuse and recycle your lunch. Reduce your food waste — the single-largest source of waste in municipal landfills — by adjusting your lunch size to match your appetite. Reuse lunch containers to limit your food wrapper trash. Recycle your leftovers by composting any food you won’t eat later. Contact MARC or Bridging the Gap for guidance on developing a food recycling program at your office.
  • Buy local foods. You can protect air quality by purchasing local foods — less time on the delivery truck means fewer emissions polluting the air. Buying local produce and meats doesn’t have to be expensive or a hassle. LocalHarvest and KC Food Circle can help you find local farmers’ markets, community sustainable agriculture (CSA), farms and shops. If you’re eating out, try carpooling or riding transit to a restaurant that gets its ingredients from area farms.
  • Encourage food waste recycling programs. Recycling food waste makes use of valuable organic resources instead of filling up landfills. Programs like Missouri Organic Recycling’s FRED Project provide a collection service for schools and businesses. These programs often offer a free audit to assess your institution’s needs and provide education to employees or students. In 2012, the Shawnee Mission School District was recognized for its composting efforts through MARC’s Sustainable Success Stories.
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How Much Does a Typical American Family Throw Out in a Week?

Glad-Waste-In-Focus-FamilyDo you know how much of your weekly household waste could be diverted from the landfill? The Glad Products Company recently took a closer look at eight diverse U.S. families as part of a public service campaign on household waste awareness, and the visual is rather eye-opening.

In a photographic study titled “Waste in Focus,” photojournalist Peter Menzel and writer Faith D’Aluisio interviewed each of the families and sorted one week’s worth of household trash and recycling. The photos feature each family surrounded by items destined for the landfill or the recycling or compost bin.

The families, each with four members, live in Atlanta, New York City, Phoenix and San Francisco and are of different backgrounds and ethnicities. While this was not an exercise to compare the families to one another, there are a few interesting takeaways from the project:

  • The average amount of waste generated was 36.3 pounds for the week. Of that, 55 percent was destined for the landfill and 45 percent was a combination of recyclables and compostables.
  • The New York City families generated less waste; averaging 25 pounds for the week.
  • The San Francisco families averaged a 91 percent recycling rate. This is not surprising since San Francisco residents are required to separate their food waste for compost pickup rather than put it into trash destined for landfill.

Find out more about the project, view the photos and read each family’s story by visiting WasteinFocus. The site, in partnership with Keep America Beautiful, also includes a quiz and tips that can help you and your family reduce waste at home.

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Fight food waste at your festivities

AppetizersFood: it’s the center of every holiday gathering.

But between thinking about all those calories and the sheer quantity of food, most of us don’t consider how much of it gets wasted.  In fact, the average American wastes between 209 and 253 pounds of food every year, with a fair amount of that waste occurring around the holidays. Here are some ways to reduce waste that will help you, your guests and the environment.

  • Precycle. “Precycling” is when you avoid purchasing unnecessary items that will eventually have to be recycled or thrown away. For holiday meals, try to purchase products with less packaging, use durable dishware and cook only for the number of people who will eat at your gathering.
  • Prepare healthy portions. Love Food Hate Waste’s online portion planner will tell you how much food to purchase based on the type of food you want to serve and the number of people who will eat it.
  • Make a list and stick with it. A list will ensure you don’t forget anything and keep you from buying and spending too much.
  • Let guests serve themselves. When guests serve themselves they can choose the items they actually want to eat.
  • Use smaller plates. Smaller plates help fend off the dreaded “my-eyes-are-bigger-than-my-stomach” syndrome.
  • Ask guests to bring reusable containers. This way you won’t have to eat all those leftovers yourself and your guests will have something to eat the next day. Plus you’ll reuse others’ containers instead of buying new ones.

Don’t forget to visit RecycleSpot.org for all of your holiday reuse and recycling needs!

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Harvesters: diminishing hunger and reducing waste

The MARC Solid Waste Management District administers an annual grant program which awards funds to local communities and organizations for waste reduction and recycling-related projects. From time to time, we publish updates about recent grant recipients.

In 2012, the district awarded a grant to Harvesters Community Food Network, which serves a 26-county service area in northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas. The organization is well-known in the Kansas City region as a clearinghouse for collecting and redistributing food and household products. Last year, Harvesters distributed more than 41 million pounds of food and household products to food pantries and soup kitchens to help those in need.

Much of Harvesters’ product comes from generous donations of perishable food from food manufacturers and produce operations. For the most part, this is food doesn’t meet the standards of grocery stores but is still edible. Unfortunately, some of the produce that Harvesters receives is no longer edible and is not for distribution to its network of partner agencies.

Food waste gleeningThe inedible food used to leave the warehouse through the trash, but Harvesters wanted to reduce the environmental impact of its operations. Harvesters successfully applied for a district grant to change how it manages unusable food donations. The grant funds were used to build a concrete pad and gravel drive that allowed for placement of an additional, separate container for discarded food. The funding also purchased roller bins and provided staff training.

Once considered trash, discarded food is now collected and composted by Missouri Organic Recycling. During the first year of operations with its new sorting process, Harvesters diverted more than 600 tons of food to be composted. According to Chief Operating Officer Norm Bowers, the project was successful because Harvesters had the support of its board and staff, and a plan in place to begin diverting produce.

Over the next 10 years, Harvesters projects it will divert more than 4,000 tons of perishables and produce from disposal.

The Solid Waste Management District is proud to support Harvesters in this effort and help the organization reach its goal of a reduced environmental impact.

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Food for Thought

Did you know that approximately 17 percent of the Kansas City metropolitan area’s waste stream is food waste? The National Resources Defense Council estimates that American families throw out approximately 25 percent of the food and beverages that they buy (including inedible portions such as bones and peels). When food is wasted, the valuable resources that were used for its production are also wasted.

World Environment Day (June 5), an annual global event sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme, is aimed at promoting positive environmental action. This year’s theme, Think.Eat.Save., focuses on food waste and encourages people to “reduce their foodprint.” This campaign encourages each of us to take action in our homes and businesses to reduce food waste, save money, minimize the environmental impact of food production and consumption, and encourage more efficient food production processes.

There are simple steps you can take at home to reduce the amount of food that you throw out. Jonathan Bloom, who blogs about wasted food, recommends taking action against your personal food waste with the following five steps:

1. Plan your meals before you grocery shop.
2. Make a detailed shopping list and stick to it.
3. Serve reasonably-sized portions.
4. Save your leftovers.
5. Eat those leftovers!

Consider donating food you don’t intend to consume to a local food bank instead of tossing it into the trash. When food can’t be consumed or donated, consider composting it instead of discarding it. Composting food scraps can reduce climate impact while also recycling nutrients. Numerous “how to” resources are available on the Internet for home composting of both yard waste and food scraps.

There is a lot that each and every one of us can do to reduce our food waste. Learn to think about food waste, eat food more mindfully and save money and natural resources at Think.Eat.Save.

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