I had to get your attention because you might not have willingly stopped to read a post on waste, but keep reading because it’s important and good.
As a person who is a big fan of the Earth and its long-term sustainability as a healthy and productive planet, the life cycle of garbage is concerning. It should be for all of us. For one thing, the amount of waste the world produces is staggering and getting bigger every day. Think of the massive amount of work and space it takes to store waste that does not decompose naturally. Even organic materials like food scraps don’t often break down because they get mixed with other materials like plastics and metals.
Wipe Out Waste
I was driving down the road and listening to WFAE, our local NPR radio station and happened to catch a segment on Wipe out Waste, the Mecklenburg County trash and recycling program. It reminded me of our progressive efforts here in Charlotte to address our waste stream; it’s impressive, commendable, and worth bringing attention to. I highly encourage everyone to have a working knowledge of our county’s trash and recycling system. After all, the topic of waste may not be sexy, but proper management is vital to the long-term health and sustainability of our land and resources.
The City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County have always impressed me with their efforts to address the waste stream head-on. The most impressive aspect is their education and information efforts. To be sure, the best thing all of us can do is educate ourselves on the waste stream process and Mecklenburg County makes it easy. They put together a colorful, easy guide called Wipe Out Waste. Check it out! For one thing, it’s short and sweet and full of pictures. In fact, this guide will show you exactly what can and cannot go in the recycle bin. It is very important to at least get that first part right. Putting only accepted items in the recycle bin helps ensure these items actually do go through recycling and are not added to the landfill. Wipe Out Waste actually teaches you soooo much more, from how to dispose of things like pharmaceuticals or hazardous materials to the address of your local recycling center.
Mecklenburg County has a couple of really forward-thinking aspects to our shared solid waste.
- Yard Waste Composting: Our yard waste is taken away, composted and made available for purchase in the form of high quality mulch. It really is high quality, I can attest to that. Check out Meck Mulch Madness to inquire about getting your own mulch.
- Food Waste Composting: Composting is a great way to give your food scraps a new purpose. Mecklenburg County does not currently pick up food waste, but you can hire the company Crown Town Compost. They will pick up your scraps and turn it into nutrient-rich soil for you.
Charlotte Douglas Airport started a waste reduction plan that includes vermiculture (composting with worms) and has reduced airport waste by about 70%. I compost, and I would encourage everyone to compost. Number one, it’s an easy way to keep food waste out of the landfill. Number two, it’s great for the earth and soil. And number three( here’s the shocker), it’s fun. Not sure how to start? Here is a good primer.
For all of your solid waste questions including what to recycle, when recycling happens in your neighborhood and all kinds of helpful information about being a solid waste citizen, check out the Mecklenburg County Solid Waste website.