ROCKPORT— This is the week when the trees come down, the decorations and lights come off and the excess of packaging materials get taken to the dump. But, hold on there a second. There needs to be some prep work first unless you want to anger the Dump Gods.
“This is the time of year when a lot of stuff that belongs in the trash wreaks havoc in the recycling bins,” said Jim Guerra, Manager of Mid-Coast Solid Waste Corp.
He cited an example of finding a boxes in the cardboard recycling bin containing several stacks of old dishes.
“We didn’t see it go in and it got dumped onto the bottom of the bin and broke everywhere. Because corrugated cardboard is our most valuable material by volume, we could have had a situation where all that broken crockery caused the entire truckload of baled materials to be rejected.”
Remember Highlights for Children magazine? Here is a Goofus and Gallant Guide to bringing your stuff to the dump after the holidays.
Cardboard boxes and packing materials
Goofus will bring in cardboard boxes still intact with packing materials of Styrofoam peanuts and encapsulated-air plastic (bubble) sheeting and try to shove the entire thing into the corrugated cardboard recycling bin where Styrofoam bits and pieces fly out, get picked up by the wind and get deposited in waterways.
Gallant will separate out the packing materials, re-use or recycle them where he can; break down the boxes and deposit them flat into the cardboard bin.
Christmas Trees and Wreaths
Goofus will bring the entire tree to the dump with loads of tinsel, fake snow spray and other decorative bits and pieces still attached to it.
Gallant will remove every piece of tinsel and deliver it bare to the dump—or recycle it into the woods. Better yet, if he lives in Camden-Rockport, he can leave it out on the edge of the yard for a free Christmas Tree pickup on January 6 or he can take it to Appleton Creamery’s January 7 Christmas Tree Drop-off Day.
“We do take Christmas trees, but prefer to have them be recycled and re-used, because we grind them down for fuel or compost, but it doesn’t yield much. the thing people need to keep in mind is that we also can’t have tinsel or any decorative items on them because any bit of plastic can’t go into the boiler. And it takes a lot of our staff time to pull that stuff off the trees.”
Holiday wrapping paper
Goofus will ignore the directions on the paper recycling bin and throw Mylar wrapping paper, ribbons and bows into the bin.
Gallant will dispose of the wrapping and bows separately. He always like to see a good fire burn in the fire pit.
“Just thinking toward next year, I’ve seen a lot of packages wrapped in decorative cloth or burlap bags, which are re-usable. Likewise, those holiday gift bags can always be used again and again; just switch out the tags.”
Appliances and toys
Goofus takes his old coffeemaker, which still works, and throws it into the dump without a second thought.
Gallant thinks of other ways to give the older model coffee maker away to someone who can use it or to thrift stores or consignment stores.
“There’s a lot of upgrading to new stuff after the holidays and it’s sad to see the older things chucked into the trash or metal bin when they still work,” said Guerra. “Typically during the year, we have our Swap Shop open and they can accept it there, but there’s no heat this time of year. Even if the cord on an appliance is damaged or broken, there are Repair Cafés that happen from time to time, where you can bring an older model that’s damaged and have it repaired and donated to someone else.They do it in Europe all of the time and we’re trying to get one going here as well.”
The author of this article recognizes that Goofus was over-the-top obnoxious and Gallant was insufferably good and hopes there is a happy medium in between.
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com