Old Valentine’s Flowers Go in Mixed Organic Waste

flowers

Ready to toss your Valentine’s Day flowers? Don’t throw them away! Toss them in with your Mixed Organic Waste instead.

When you put flowers and other yard waste in your Mixed Organic Waste, they’re composted to create healthy new soil. Healthy soil plays a lot of important roles in our environment, including absorbing and filtering water, as well as transferring nutrients to new plant life.

Want to Keep Your Flowers Longer?

Take good care of the stems. First, give your flowers some type of sugar for nutrition. Put a little bit of sugar in the vase water, whether it’s the plant food packet that came with your flowers, a little granulated sugar from your cupboard, or some honey or maple syrup. Any amount between one teaspoon and two tablespoons will do. Second, change the water every other day, or anytime it begins to look cloudy, and trim the ends of the stems at the same time so they can continue to absorb the water and nutrients.

Dry or press your blooms. Keep the memory of a special day alive by preserving your bouquet. To dry flowers naturally, hang them upside down in a dark, dry spot, such as an attic or closet. You can also dry flowers by pressing them. Place the blooms between heavy books, such as dictionaries or encyclopedias, with a paper or cardboard lining to absorb moisture. Check the flowers’ progress once a week, and change the liner each time. Both drying and pressing flowers takes roughly 2-4 weeks. Find more tips for creating beautiful dried flowers — without using chemicals or creating extra waste — from Wellness Mama.

Buy potted flowers instead. Keep the Valentine’s Day vibe strong all year with a live plant. With proper care, not only can it brighten your home — and mood — for years, it can even clean the air for you. After all, what’s more romantic than watching your love grow?

National Battery Day: Did You Know It’s Dangerous to Throw Batteries Away?

batteries

Batteries: A standardized and portable source of power that can bring electricity anywhere you want to go. From starting your car in the morning to powering a flashlight during an unexpected power outage, their convenience is undeniable. However, batteries can also be very dangerous if not disposed of properly. Here is what you need to know.

Batteries, especially the lithium-ion rechargeable type that come in most portable electronics, pose a very serious fire risk when disposed of improperly. When batteries end up at a trash or recycling facility they often get punctured or crushed, which can damage the separation between the cathode and anode, causing them to catch fire or explode. These fires can have devastating consequences, such as the fire at San Mateo’s Materials Recovery Facility in 2016, which burned the entire plant to the ground. Batteries — and devices that contain them — need to be disposed of as e-waste or hazardous waste so they can be carefully handled to prevent these fires.

In addition to the fire danger, batteries can also contain toxic chemicals, including lithium, cadmium, sulfuric acid and lead. If disposed of improperly, these toxic chemicals can leach into the soil and contaminate the groundwater.

For these reasons, it is illegal to put batteries in the garbage or mix them in with the rest of your recycling. Luckily, recycling batteries is easy. Follow these links to our Recycling Guide to find out how to easily dispose of each type of battery.

When storing used batteries prior to recycling, please use caution to keep batteries from short-circuiting, overheating or sparking.

You can either:

  • Place each battery in a separate clear plastic bag, or;
  • Use clear packing tape, electrical tape or duct tape to tape the ends of the batteries to prevent battery ends from touching one another or striking against metal surfaces, then place the batteries in a clear plastic bag.

Avoid storing batteries in a metal container.

Looking to save some money? Try using rechargeable batteries in place of single-use alkaline batteries. Rechargeable batteries will work in almost all the same applications, provide similar battery life, and can be recharged hundreds of times — making them far more cost-effective and eco-friendly than single-use batteries. Just make sure to use single-use batteries for emergency devices such as smoke detectors.

Happy National Battery Day!

Ask the Experts: How to Recycle Peanut Butter Jars — A Sticky Subject

Peanut Butter Jars
recycle questions

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Q: How do I recycle my peanut butter jars?
—Rita

A: We’ve all been there. You’ve just spread the last scoop of peanut butter on your PB&J sandwich only to be confronted with a challenge: a recyclable container that is too dirty to recycle. Don’t stress — we’ve got you covered. Read over these three simple steps to get that sticky jar recycle-ready.

1. Scrape

Using a spatula or other utensil, remove as much peanut butter from the jar as possible. Alternatively, if you have a dog, consider letting them lick the leftover peanut butter out of the jar in lieu of scraping it out.

2. Soak & Shake

Fill the jar one-third of the way full with warm water and a drop of soap, then replace the cap and let it soak for five minutes. Shake vigorously for twenty seconds, drain and rinse. At this point, only a small amount of oily residue will be left in the jar.

3. Dry

Set the jar upside down in a drying rack or on the edge of the sink to drip dry. Once the jar is dry, replace the cap and it is ready to recycle. If your peanut butter jar is made of glass, recycle the lid separately from the jar.

Not a peanut butter person? These steps will also work for other nut and seed butter jars, as well as most other hard-to-clean jars.

What to Do With All That Meal Kit Packaging

So it’s 2020 and you’ve resolved to make this the year you start cooking more and eating better. You’ve signed up for your first meal kit and made some tasty dishes, but now you’re wondering what to do with all that packaging. Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered with this quick guide on how to properly dispose of all your meal kit packaging.


Cardboard Box

Paper and Cardboard

The cardboard box your meals are shipped in, cardboard dividers, paper trays and recipe cards are all made of paper. These pieces of your meal kit can be placed in the recycling. However, if these items become wet or food-soiled on their way to your house or while you’re cooking, they should be tossed in with your mixed organic waste.


Ice Pack

Ice Packs

These guys do a great job of keeping your food from spoiling while it’s shipped to your home, but they also require some attention to be disposed of properly. To dispose of an ice pack, start by checking whether the ice pack is just frozen water or something else. If the ice pack contains anything other than water, thaw it, cut it open and then squeeze the gel into the garbage. Afterward, rinse out the plastic film, dry it and bring it to a plastic bag drop-off. Gel from ice packs will cause bad clogs in your drains, so make sure this gel doesn’t get washed down a sink or flushed down a toilet. If your ice pack is just filled with water, cut a corner of the pack and place it in a sink to thaw. After the water has melted and drained, dry the empty pack and drop it off with other plastic bags.

If you aren’t going to take the plastic film to a drop-off, you can toss your ice pack in the garbage.

Or, better yet, reuse your ice pack! Stick the ice pack back in your freezer, and then toss it in a cooler to chill drinks or food whenever you’re camping, tailgating or hosting. That way you won’t have to buy as many bags of ice at the store.


Plastic Bag

Plastic Bags

Often containing vegetables, spices and sauces, these bags should be dropped off with other plastic bags once they are clean and dry or tossed in the garbage.


Plastic Ramekin

Plastic Clamshells, Jars and Bottles

This is where things can get a bit tricky. Luckily, most, if not all, the plastic containers in your meal kit will be clearly labeled with a plastic resin number to help you identify the type of plastic. From there you can use our Recycling Guide to find out how you should dispose of each type of plastic. Keep in mind, items smaller than the lid on a standard peanut butter jar are too small to recycle and must be put in the trash. Have some plastic that’s not recyclable? Upcycle it! Check out this video by Purple Carrot for some fun ideas.


Compost Bowl

Food Scraps

Cooking at home creates food scraps. Potato peels, scallion ends and other scraps can be tossed in with your mixed organic waste.

Find something in your meal kit that isn’t mentioned here? Look it up in our handy Recycling Guide.


Food for Thought

Feel like you’re finally getting the hang of cooking at home? Save those recipe cards, or find some new recipes on the web, and try cooking without the meal kit. Plan out your meals ahead of time to minimize food waste and remember to bring your reusable bags and produce bags to the store. Bon appétit!

What Happens When “Tanglers” Get in the Recycling (Video)

What happens when “tanglers” get into the recycling? They bring equipment at the recycling facility to a full stop.

“Tanglers” are long or stretchy items, including plastic bags, clothing & textiles, bedding, bungee cords, garden hoses, electrical cords & cables, and Christmas lights.

Watch this video to see what happens when everything gets “Tangled Up.”

Give Your Garbage Collector a Brake

In the U.S., we toss out more than 250 million tons of garbage every year. Unfortunately, once all that trash is tossed to the curb, it’s a dangerous job to pick it up.

Collecting garbage is one of the top five most dangerous jobs in America. The fatal injury rate is higher than it is for police officers, firefighters, construction workers and miners.

So what can we do to help keep our garbage collectors safe? Drive safely! Being struck by a motorist is a leading cause of death for garbage truck drivers. Luckily, with proper awareness, it’s completely preventable.

First, slow down when approaching collection trucks. Stop if necessary to allow them to do their job. Not only are garbage collectors trying to focus on doing their job, they are also dealing with limited visibility, loud noises, and — compared to the average vehicle — relatively complicated machinery.

Second, give trucks and workers plenty of space. If you pass a truck, check for workers on the ground first. Then check for traffic coming from the opposite direction. If it’s all clear, move over in the road to create a safe distance between you and the truck. Don’t try to pass a garbage truck if there isn’t room, if there is oncoming traffic, or if the visibility is poor.

Third, stay alert while passing a collection truck. Don’t accelerate while passing, and avoid distractions such as texting, using a GPS or radio until you have safely made it around the truck.

Follow these steps and you’ll make your neighborhood garbage collector’s job a whole lot safer.

How to Do Takeout the Eco-Friendly Way

takeout food in single-use container

Do you love going to restaurants but hate all the waste created by takeout meals? Make it your New Year’s resolution to try some new local dishes without filling up your garbage. Here’s how:

Bring Your Own Container (BYOC)

Headed to the restaurant down the street? Before you go, check your cabinet for a clean reusable container, preferably with a lid, to take with you. Getting a drink? Bring a thermos or bottle. Restaurants around the country are starting to encourage BYOC and California just signed into law a bill, AB 619, which makes it official: As of January 2020, restaurants are legally allowed to serve food and beverages in consumer-provided reusable containers. Keep an eye out for restaurants that start to offer a discount for bringing your own container.

Bring Your Own Utensils

Eating on the run? Skip the plastic or compostable utensils and bring your own instead. That fork or spoon that doesn’t quite match any of the others in your silverware set is the perfect candidate for your zero waste take-out kit. Keep forgetting your utensils at home? Consider keeping a set in your purse, backpack or car.

Just Say “No Thanks”

When you’re ordering takeout, think ahead about the items you need and don’t need. Ordering food to take home? Skip the utensils, napkins and condiments — you probably have them at home in your kitchen. Now that you’ve cut out all the stuff you don’t need, you might even be able to skip the plastic bag you previously needed to get it all home.

Dine in

Here’s an easy one. Try eating at the restaurant instead of getting your food to-go. In general, restaurants tend to use fewer single-use products for customers dining in. Look for restaurants using reusable plates, silverware and glasses instead of disposables. And don’t forget to bring your own to-go container for the leftovers.

When you do go get takeout food, no matter how much or little waste you prevent in the process, make sure you dispose of everything correctly by looking it up in our Recycling Guide.

New Phone? Don’t Bury the Old One in a Junk Drawer — Here’s Why

Getting a new phone over the holidays? Remember to recycle your old one! It’s easy — in California, stores that sell cell phones are required to take them back for recycling. Oftentimes they’ll even give you credit towards a new device.

If you’re keeping old phones and tablets in a “junk drawer of sadness,” get those precious metals back into action! Phones contain gold, silver, copper, platinum and palladium — valuable materials that manufacturers want to reuse.

While it’s great to give your old phone a new life, never put one in your garbage or curbside recycling. Why? The lithium ion batteries can cause terrible fires in waste trucks and sorting facilities.

Find ways to recycle, donate or sell your old phone in our Recycling Guide. Find out more about why they’re so important to recycle by watching this video.

Ukiah Christmas Tree Collection

christmas tree

Recycle your Christmas tree!

Christmas trees can be cut into smaller pieces and placed in the Mixed Organic Waste cart for curbside collection. Make sure all decorations are removed and the tree fits inside the cart with the lid closed. Flocked or painted trees are not accepted.

Free Christmas tree recycling is also available at the Ukiah Transfer Station during the two weeks following Christmas. Please remove all lights and decorations.

Don’t Recycle Your Pizza Box — Compost It!

pizza box

You may have heard that if it’s cardboard, it’s always recyclable. Or maybe you’ve heard that pizza boxes just need to be tossed in the trash. What’s the real answer? Compost it! In Ukiah, you can put your pizza box in your Mixed Organic Waste with just about anything that comes with it. Use this cheat sheet to find out what to toss and what to compost.


Leftover Pizza or Crumbs

Compost it. All food scraps go in your compost cart.

Food — even at the crumb level — can ruin batches of paper recycling. Can you imagine little bits of pizza crust living in your roll of paper towels? Ew — no. Make sure they end up in your compost cart.


Parchment Paper & Napkins

Compost it. Soiled paper goes in your compost cart.

Whereas cardboard is sometimes recyclable, parchment paper and napkins are never recyclable. Why is that? Their paper fibers are too short to survive the recycling process. However, they can still be turned into something new — fresh organic soil! Just make sure to toss them in your compost cart.


Pizza Savers

Put them in the garbage.

You know the little plastic item that appears in takeout and delivery pizza boxes? This little contraption, which looks like a three-legged table, is called a pizza saver. Pizza savers are responsible for your pizza making it home safe and sound, without the melted cheese sticking to the lid of the pizza box. Without them, we’d all be eating ugly pizzas stripped of their cheese and other delicious toppings.

That said, toss your pizza savers in the trash. They are too small to be recycled, and they can’t be composted.


A Greasy Box

Compost it.

Cardboard that has gotten wet, soaked up grease or has food residue on it goes in your compost cart. Why? It’s what we call contaminated. Basically, the paper fibers are damaged by the grease and they won’t survive the recycling process. What’s worse, greasy fibers can ruin an entire batch of paper recycling.

Don’t toss them in the trash, though! Soiled paper and cardboard can be turned into new organic soil through our composting program, so make sure to toss greasy pizza boxes into your compost cart.


A Clean Box — Or a Clean Lid

If the top half of your pizza box has survived its pizza journey in pristine condition, you can cut or tear it off and recycle it.

If by some small miracle the entire box has pulled through with nary a sign of grease, make sure it’s completely empty, then recycle it.