by Dina Epstein
Garbage is expensive. Not only have you already paid to purchase whatever you are throwing out, but you will also be paying to dispose of it. The cost to the Village of disposing Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is $85.00 per ton and we generated 2700 tons last year. That means the village paid about $230,00.00 to take out the trash. There is also the cost to the earth when you consider that the trash is likely going into a landfill which will generate air, soil and water pollution. If only there was a way to save your tax dollars and be kinder to the earth.
Well, the good news is that there are ways to control these costs and improve the quality of our environment. One way is to recycle paper, plastic and metal on Wednesday, rather than putting it out on your garbage days. Recycling at $30.00 per ton is much more cost effective, as well as better for the environment. The Village has single stream recycling, which means that paper, plastic and metal recycling can all be mixed and put out together on Wednesday morning. Please know that “paper” includes all types of cardboard boxes, whether they came from UPS or your favorite breakfast cereal.
Another cost saver which could improve the quality of life is composting. Composting is collecting raw fruit and vegetable waste, yard waste, as well as other types of waste (see lists below) and helping that waste to return to nature. The Environmental Protection Agency states that 20 to 30% of the typical U.S. waste stream is compostable organic material. If we were to reduce the amount of MSW that we must dispose of by 20%, Sea Cliff would save about $46,000.00 per year. This kind of savings is a significant reduction in our tax burden.
When I started researching I believed in composting as a means to reduce our waste stream to lower our MSW disposal costs. What I found out is that composting can do much more than save us money; it can clean the air and soil. I have learned that composting is worthwhile because:
Hopefully you are convinced that composting is something you should at least consider. Composting does not require expensive equipment. All that is required is a space in your yard that is shady and dry, but near a water source, not up against a wall and has drainage. It is in this spot that you can set up a bin or make a compost pile. It is possible to compost in a pile that will biodegrade to produce the humus, which is the end product of composting. Humus is what the ground in a forest looks like.
The important thing with composting is to get the recipe correct. If the recipe is correct, the compost should not smell or attract vermin. Please follow the directions carefully so that your neighbors will not be calling Village Hall with complaints about odor and animals.
DO NOT COMPOST
ANIMAL PRODUCTS including bones, meat or feces
GREASE, FATS OR OILS
COOKED OR PROCESSED FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
BLACK WALNUT TREES OR LEAVES
TREATED OR PAINTED WOOD
CHARCOAL OR COAL
ANYTHING TREATED WITH PESTICIDES OR INSECTICIDES
40% GREEN (nitrogen) AND 60% BROWN (carbon) MATTER
RAW VEGETABLE SCRAPS preferably cut into small pieces for quicker decomposition
RAW FRUIT SCRAPS preferably cut into small pieces for quicker decomposition
SAWDUST FROM UNTREATED WOOD
FIREPLACE ASHES FROM UNTREATED WOOD
COTTON OR WOOL RAGS
The proper way to compost is to add the materials, 40% green matter to 60% brown matter as they are collected, making sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded. The pile should be kept moist, but not wet. It can be covered in the bin, or with a tarp if there is no bin, to keep it moist. The pile must be periodically turned with a shovel, pitchfork or hoe so that it stays oxygenated. The pile should generate heat as it decomposes. The pile should not be larger than 3 feet square and can be smaller. After a few months the pile should be broken down to the rich brown humus material and can be spread in your yard to enrich the soil or fertilize your garden.
The Village’s Environmental Conservation Commission is going to have information and “How To” sessions in the coming months to encourage composting. We hope that you will join in and compost.