Environmental Office shares tips for staying ‘Green’ as home projects hit summer surge

By Samuel Zentkovich Environmental Protection Specialist, DLA Installation Management Columbus

PRINT  |  E-MAIL

Ohio’s shelter-in-place order has led many families to spend more time at home. As a result, local waste companies are reporting surges in trash collection resulting from many residents taking the opportunity for an extended spring-cleaning season and tackling various home projects.

The environmental specialists at the Defense Supply Center Columbus encourage associates to find ways to use the “3 Rs” – recycle, reduce and reuse – as they clean, purge and organize their spaces. This method is critical to diverting waste from landfills and protecting the environment.

To help associates do this, the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio offers the following resources and suggestions for keeping home tasks amidst the pandemic environmentally friendly.

Closets
Your closets are probably filled with accessories you don’t use, clothes that don’t fit and shoes you’ve haven’t worn in years. Clear these items from your closet but don’t throw them away.

Donate them instead. Hands On Central Ohio – a community outreach program partnered with Franklin County – lists several local organizations accepting clothing donations. Visit the clothing donation listing to find out when and where you can take your donations.

Kitchen
As you clean cupboards and drawers, don’t toss items you no longer want or use. Give them to one of many nonprofit organizations around town that accept pots, pans and other kitchenware in good condition and give it to families in need.

You can also take steps to reduce the amount of food you send to the landfill. Start by donating non-perishable food items to a local food pantry or food bank. If you have food scraps, try composting them. The SWACO Compost at Home guide and Backyard Composting video explains how to start your own compost system at home. It’s easier than you think, and it’s a good way to create nutrient-rich compost for your lawn and garden.

Many Central Ohio communities have also implemented residential food waste composting drop-off programs. Check with your local municipality to determine if a drop-off program is available in your area.

Finally, using the garbage disposal to dispose of appropriate food items is another good solution to avoid putting it in the trash. Many times, when the food from the disposal arrives at the wastewater treatment facility, it is turned into compost.

Garage and Basement
Motor oil, paint and pesticides are examples of household hazardous waste materials often found in garages and basements. These types of products should never be thrown in the garbage because they pose hazards to sanitation workers, wastewater treatment systems and human health. The household hazardous waste pick-up events scheduled around Franklin County this spring were canceled because of the coronavirus crisis but SWACO’s household hazardous waste facility is open for drop-offs.

If you want to get rid of bulky items like carpet and mattresses or hard-to-recycle items like batteries, electronics and scrap metal, SWACO has a search tool that can help you find a location that accepts and properly disposes of these items. So before you throw anything away, check out the search tool. Make tossing items into the garbage the last resort!

Yard
Franklin County’s curbside waste and recycling programs allow residents to leave yard waste at the curb for pick up. The yard waste is then turned into mulch and made available for sale to consumers. This program keeps millions of tons of yard waste out of the landfill every year. Check with your municipality for more information.

Residents can also compost their yard waste. Composting food and/or yard waste is a relatively easy and inexpensive process that results in nutrient-rich soil for plants, lawns and gardens. To encourage people to compost, the Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District offers a $50 rebate, funded by SWACO, through its Community Backyards program to anyone who installs a compost bin or rain barrel or plants native plants and trees in their yards.

Please keep these tips in mind as you continue your extended time working from home – and don’t let the pandemic lessen your commitment to recycling, reducing and reusing materials. Every little thing you do adds up and makes a big difference for the environment and for the Central Ohio community.