This just in from Charles Blount…
Walpole Recycling Action Project
It’s been a long, cold winter. All the wood for the wood stove has long since been burned up and it’s cold in here as I write this. It’s even colder outside, and there’s a stiff, biting wind that just cuts right through you.
Mom and Dad Robin arrived a few days ago. I have been feeling very sad for them; they’ll starve, since all the earthworms must still be frozen stiff like little pencils! Well, Spring MUST be on the way now. Mama Robin, just outside my window, pecked diligently at the ground and came up with an earthworm; not a big one mind you, but enough for her to live on for a while. What a winter this has been!
As good stewards of our planet, we surely aren’t interested in spoiling it with trash. We make a serious effort to REDUCE our trash by being very careful about what we buy and how it is packaged. We also REUSE items that others might throw away, and we RECYCLE (repurpose) items where possible (that empty aluminum soda can might end up as part of the wing of that jet you fly on your next trip to Miami).
The REDUCE part of the equation is the responsibility of each one of us, individually. Our town can’t help us there; WE have to do it!
Our town CAN help us with the REUSE part of the equation. The Walpole REUSE Center is up and running again as of last week. As we come into the Recycle Center out on Drewsville Road, the first thing we see is the big, blue trailer to the right of the main building. Really, – a Big Blue Trailer? Yep; that’s the home of the Walpole REUSE Center. That big blue trailer is unheated, so it has to shut down every winter. TRIVIA: What is the biggest thing that we REUSE again and again? The Walpole REUSE Center’s Big Blue Trailer, of course!
OK, so how can we use the REUSE Center? Well, for example, there, in the garage is Robbie’s bicycle. He rode that thing everywhere back before his family moved to Walpole. Now, living at the top of a long, steep hill, it just isn’t used anymore. Besides, Robbie is now a sophomore at college in Pennsylvania and gets around in a used VW. His dad is too out of shape to make it up that big hill, and mom won’t ride it – after all, it’s a boy’s bike and I hear that no self-respecting girl would ride a boy’s bike – you know how girls are!
Anyway, Roger will be starting the 4th grade this fall; he doesn’t have a bike – yet. Mom sees just what he needs at the REUSE Center and, after making a small donation to the local Food Shelf, heads home with a bike that will last Roger until HE goes off to college.
The object of this whole REUSE process is to prevent that bike from becoming a part of the solid waste stream that spoils our beautiful state, and our planet. Please go to Walpolerecycling.com/reuse-center/ to see a list of what is available there. And, the next time you are out at the RECYCLING Center, stop by the REUSE Trailer to see, first hand, what is there – you’ll be amazed! Speak with the good people there, the volunteers who man the center, to see how you might join them as a volunteer – just two hours per month. This can be your way to “Pay It Ahead” to the town that does so much for us all.
Now, a quick note on the RECYCLE part of the REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE equation. The recent reduction in oil (and gasoline) prices has been just great for our family budget. But that same reduction has caused dislocations in the raw materials world. Plastic, like that used for water bottles, is called “PETE” and has a resin code of “1” (that’s what the “1” in the triangle tells you). At the most basic level, PETE is made from oil along with some other chemicals. That’s why the plastics world is in competition with the heating oil and gasoline world – same basic resource.
When oil prices were high (the past few years) plastic companies bought their PETE from recyclers like us (and thousands of other towns around the US – and Europe, too). The recycled PETE was cleaned, shredded, chemically melted down, some more chemicals were added, and then it was recast into bottles. There you have it; the life-cycle of PETE.
But, when the price of oil drops (as it has recently), the plastic companies can make their PETE directly from oil at near, or even less cost than they could make it by processing recycled PETE. If the plastic companies don’t pay us for our recyclable PETE we are faced with either storing it somewhere, or paying to have it dumped in a landfill. Once in a landfill, it will be there forever – plastics do not biodegrade!
Given the current raw materials market, plastic companies can afford to be really picky about the quality (purity) of our recycled PETE. In order to avoid having our recycled PETE end up in a landfill, we have to be just as “picky” as the plastic companies about the purity of what we take in.
At least for the time being, we just can no longer take in those “clam-shell” containers, or PETE items that are not in a “bottle” format (where the top (opening) is smaller in diameter than the base). And we cannot take in PETE items that we cannot see through. (They don’t have to be “clear or colorless,” but we have to be able to see through them.)
Uncomfortable as these changes are for you (and for us) they will keep the “purity” of our PETE recyclables at a level where we should be able to continue to sell our recycled PETE to the plastic companies.
Now, one final reminder: the REUSE Center is in need of volunteers; please stop in to see all the good things they have in the Big Blue Trailer, and learn what it means to be a volunteer there. Pay It Ahead.
This in from Michael Neerie …
THERE IS AN URGENT NEED FOR VOLUNTEERS AT THE WALPOLE RE-USE TRAILER ON SATURDAYS
Unless we can find volunteers to work Saturdays this coming season, we will have to close the Re-Use Trailer on both Saturdays and Thursdays. We have enough volunteers to staff Thursdays, but it would be impossible for the recycling employees to monitor an unstaffed Reuse Trailer on Saturdays, and the sorting and organizing of items can’t be done in just one day.
Please help spread the word to your friends and family about our need for Saturday volunteers at the Walpole Re-Use Trailer. We are open from 8am to 4pm, with all donations going to the Fall Mountain Food Shelf. Volunteer once a month for a two hour shift or every week if you like.
If you, or anyone you know, is willing to volunteer at the Walpole Re-use Trailer
on Saturdays for a two hour shift between 8 am and 4 pm
please contact Michael Nerrie at (603)756-4179
Joe Beer sent along this WRAP Report
If you’ve been wondering where you might find free packing peanuts or free bubble wrap, wonder no more. The Recycle Center, where else. Brown paper bags, plastic bags, random magazines and books are also available. Come in and browse around; you might even decide to signup as a volunteer. Volunteers are always welcome; and signing up would be a two for one: you’ll be doing a little bit of community service; plus, volunteering at the center saves us all some money.
If you don’t have time to donate, maybe you have food to donate? The Recycle Center has setup a box for donations of non-perishable food items for the Fall Mountain Food Shelf, which finds itself in a moment of need. A little help there would be most welcome; on your next trip to recycling, just inquire within as to where to leave your donation.
The Recycling Center’s budget will basically be the same as last year, though there will be a separate article on the town warrant requesting money to repair the burn pit. The pit is about 15 years old and in need of both reinforcing and repair. The article will request funds up to $10,000.
Next door to recycling, the ReUse It Center brought in $3,273 last year. That money comes in the form of donations as people take away items that they can re-use. All monies go to the Fall Mountain Food Shelf. The center is managed by Mike Nerrie; a considerable thank you to Mike and other volunteers.
You might have noticed a new face at the Recycle Center. Bob Martyr has joined the crew, in amove over from the town highway department. Bob and his wife recently moved from Arizona to NewHampshire. What would bring the two of them here? Beautiful downtown Walpole. No surprise there. And family that had previously moved to the area. Understandable. And the weather. Say What? They were plain old sick and tired of triple digit heat. No, that doesn’t sound pleasant at all. Besides, who can not love fluffy snow or the fresh chill of a still winter morning……………… though it’s possible that some of us could take a touch of April right now.
Here’s the Hazardous Waste Schedule for the dates on which the Keene facility will be accepting Walpole’s hazardous waste.
|Sat||3/21, 3/28||4/11, 4/25||5/9, 5/30||6/13,6/20|
Carolyn Norback sent along this WRAP report for February, 2015.
While preparing my W.R.A.P. report for February, 2015, I was struck by the similarity of the weather conditions of 2014. A polar vortex x2 happened and is now on the verge of being the same for 2015. Now we are asking the question, why do we continue to live in New England? Here are a few reasons: 1) We don’t like to admit defeat, (we’re tough); 2) No need to hunt for conversation starters (everyone wants to talk about the weather); Provides the answer to “cold enough for you” and the excuse to repeat that old “saw, if you don’t like weather now, wait 5 minutes”. Not to beat a dead horse, yes it is very cold, but here at the recycle center we volunteers and staff are toasty warm. We owe all this delicious comfort to the wise stewardship of Paul Coburn and his staff by reusing oil brought to the center to keep heating expenses down to about $70.00/year.
So even though Jack Frost is out and about, I am still very enthusiastic about volunteering at the center. The 2 hours always fly by. Since I’m mostly there early Tuesday morning, sometimes we start slow, but then traffic builds up and we can hardly keep up with counting cars. Yes, every truck, van, car and suv is counted, so the select board knows how useful and busy the center is. With holiday parties and celebrations the center is up to the elbows with products to recycle. Many thanks and kudos to those separating refundables, makes sorting plastic, glass and aluminum containers go faster. FYI, if you’re not sure about where to look on the container to see if it refundable, the plastic and glass bottles (beer, wine, soda, water and sometimes juice) can be found somewhere near the label, sometimes on the side or bottom, and sometimes they may be hard to see. The aluminum cans are usually found on the top near the tab, and any volunteer and staff will be happy to point it out. If your loyal to a brand that is refundable and has VT stamped on it, makes it much easier for you also. Any can plastic or glass container is refundable as long as VT is stamped on it along with other states. Of course we have lots of volunteers who will take California refundables to California, not so much to Maine this time of year. Oh, yes the caps, please try to remember to remove them from the container and deposit them in your yellow Walpole trash bags. There is always room for more volunteers on the schedule. Sign up if you fancy a friendly, warm and welcoming environment in which to give back to the community.
Here is the Volunteer Schedule for November. It has been posted to the website here.
Joe Beer sent along this WRAP Report:
Know Your Vitals!
There are some things a person needs to know. For example, Americans generate 4.38 lbs of trash per person, per day! Of which they recycle or compost 1.51 lbs. That’s a lot of trash. But, big question: where does the missing 2.87 lbs per person per day go? Think yellow bags, then landfills.
California has done it again. The state just banned the use of plastic bags, the first such move in America, though not a novelty in other parts of the world. Why would Californians do a thing like that? A plastic bag has an average life usage of about 20 minutes, store-to-home. The average length of time it takes for a plastic bag to breakdown is about 1000 years.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “The US goes through about 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually” which amounts to “an estimated 12 million barrels of oil”. That’s a lot bags and a lot of oil. Maybe re-usable shopping bags are good idea.
And how is the recycling effort going here in hometown Walpole? This year is shaping up to be a very average year in both expenses and income. Total expenses to run the Walpole Recycling Center for the year are about $320,000 (labor, equipment, facilities, processing recyclables, get rid of the yellow bags, etc….). But, because we recycle, the town “earns” about $180,000 per year in recycled materials. So about 2/3 of our trash expenses are recovered by minimizing our use of those yellow trash bags.
This spring the Recycling Center will once again be selling screened compost, of which they expect to have about 120 cubic yards. The cost will be about $10 for a small pick-up load and about $20 for a large pick-up load. The Center does donate free compost to schools and community gardens.
As a last note, Tom Fitzgerald has just retired from the Recycle Center this October. Tom, the main man on the baler as well as on many other miscellaneous tasks, has been with the Recycle Center since 2007. From all of us Walpolians, a collective: “Thank you, Tom, for all your years of service; and we wish you the best as you enter a new phase in your life.”
It’s time to finish out-placing your previously loved items or discovering new treasures among the previously loved items others have dropped off at the Reuse Center. The Center closes at the end of October!
Carolyn Norback sent along October’s WRAP report:
My last volunteer stint at the recycling center, I again found myself deep in the sorting of plastic!!!! One would think it should be an easy shift, sorting plastic, especially since most bottles or containers are relatively clean and easy to toss. Look for #1 or #2, each to it’s own box. Easy peasy, right! After two hours of sorting you kind of think, should I be going faster? How come it takes so long to sort? As soon as a load comes in, it should be gone quickly. Well here’s the answer. The center realizes a fairly lucrative amount of money from returnable plastic bottles, cans and glass bottles. Handling each can and bottle to determine the returnable from the rest is time consuming and labor intensive. More experienced volunteers are much faster at sorting and I expect to become more proficient as I gain more experience.
And then a very nice recycler handed me a bag and said, “these are all returnable”. Wow, a real eye opener. I talked to Paul Coburn about maybe designating a box just for returnable items, plastic, glass or aluminum. Well Paul thought it would be more confusing to add three more boxes for people to sort into. Then I thought back to conversations I’ve had with different people who do recycle and wish they had more time to volunteer at the center, especially since I’m so enthusiastic about volunteering myself. Then I talked again to Paul and said since I’m reporting on this months WRAP, we could use this forum to enlist volunteers in another way, asking recyclers to put their returnable items in a separate bag. I don’t think to would take much more time, since you’re recycling anyway, and it would certainly free up volunteer time to do more at the center. It could be a win-win situation, good for the center and good for people who want to volunteer but are time strapped.
If you do have time and would like to volunteer, glass crushing is a really cool thing to do. Battery packing can be exciting, they haven’t yet let me at the cardboard, but I’m looking forward to that. The best part of being a Recycle Center Volunteer, is working with Paul, Paul, Greg and the other volunteers. And if you get picked as volunteer of the month, you get a free lunch. What could be better?