If it can’t be recycled or composted, it’s garbage.
But what is garbage? BY JIM WOOD
What in today’s
conscious world can’t be
recycled or composted?
• Out-of-date computers, copy machines
and dead batteries; paint and oil; light
bulbs with mercury; metal scraps; CDs; old
appliances — Marin Household Hazardous
• Coat hangers; plastic plant containers —
Return them to where you got them.
• Plastic newspaper and shopping bags (poop
free) — Not recyclable via normal channels,
but CVS, Rite Aid and most food markets
• No longer used, but in good shape books;
clothes; appliances; shoes (not grungy);
outgrown toys — Goodwill, Salvation Army
or other thrift stores.
Hopefully (and ideally), that doesn’t leave
much for your garbage bin. And remember,
what you do put out as garbage goes to the rapidly filling up Redwood Landfill, where it will
sit for ages. Joe Garbarino, of Marin Sanitary
Service, says a piece of plastic takes more than
100 years to decompose. “Same for plastic
bags,” he adds. As for putting food scraps in the
garbage, they will also go to the landfill, where
they’ll sit for months and emit the greenhouse
gas methane. Far better to put them in with
your garden trimmings, where they will be
composted and returned to Mother Earth in
the form of highly nutritious soil.
OK, so I’m a zealot regarding waste. But so
is Zero Waste Marin. The name says it all; its
goal is to have zero waste in Marin by the year
2025. And these folks are not hoping-for-the-best do-gooders. The members form a joint
powers agency created by the California State
Legislature that involves the city managers of
every municipality in Marin County, as well as
a county representative. Its website, in clear,
complete and simple verbiage, answers every
possible question you might have regarding
recycling, composting and hazardous waste.
If we work together, it is indeed possible
to totally eliminate waste (also known as
garbage) in Marin County by the year 2025.
That’s my point of view. What’s yours?
LAST WEEK, A new neighbor asked me, “Now that I’m settled in, where do I put my garbage?” Years ago, that question would get a simple answer: “In the
garbage can.” But last week, I found it much
more difficult to answer.
This was my thinking: newspapers, wine
bottles, cans, junk mail and some plastic cups
go in the recycling bin; garden trimmings,
leaves and dead plants go with our banana
peels, steak bones, leftover salad and food-soiled paper into the compost bin.
So what — in today’s world — goes in the
“That’s a surprisingly good question,” says
Jim Iavarone, an owner of Mill Valley Refuse.
Basically, he tells me, garbage is what can’t be
recycled or composted. So I was back where
I started. Think about it: what in today’s
increasing environmentally conscious world
can’t be recycled or composted?
“Oh there’s lots of stuff,” Iavarone says, followed by a few seconds of silence. “Styrofoam,”
he blurts, “and the popcorn used for packaging.” More silence. Then, together, we come up
with other items. “Used Kleenex tissues, dirty
rags and clothes no one can wear,” he says. “And
grungy old running shoes that I’ve been gardening in,” I add. Also, I offer, plastic bags full of dog
poop. We agree that nowadays, not that much
qualifies as garbage. And Iavarone adds that
more and more, his firm’s garbage pickups are
coming back with less and less, actually trucking
1,000 tons less garbage in 2015 than in 2014.
That said, here’s a quick wrap-up of how to
get rid of waste in Marin:
• Glass bottles and jars (reasonably clean);
all kinds of clean paper; soda and beer
cans; catalogs; cardboard and most food
cartons — Recycle Bin.
• Lawn and garden trimmings; food scraps,
including meat and bones; paper soiled
with food; small pieces of lumber; spoiled
fruit — Green Bin.
The vie ws and opinions expressed in this article are
those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the
policy or position of Marin Magazine and its staff.