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Celebrate Earth Day: Dispose of Problem Trash

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Each year we produce an increased amount of solid waste, some of which is poisonous, dangerous, or creates bulky disposal problems. In honor of Earth Day and in acknowledgement of our garbage dilemma, Tuolumne County Master Gardeners—along with Cal Sierra Disposal/Waste Management, Tuolumne County Solid Waste, and Dart Manufacturing in Lodi, CA —are offering you multiple ways to dispose of your problem trash.

In 1989, California Assembly Bill 939, known as the Integrated Waste Management Act, was passed because of the increase in waste stream and the decrease in landfill capacity. AB 939 established a hierarchy of approaches to our waste stream generation; source reduction, recycling and composting, and environmentally safe transformation and disposal. It also mandated a reduction (or diversion) of waste being disposed: jurisdictions were required to meet diversion goals of 25% by 1995 and 50% by the year 2000.

However, the 25% and 50% goals are based on weight. So, for example, “green waste”—lawn and garden clippings and prunings, heavy from a high-water content—is targeted for removal from the waste collection system. Styrofoam is ignored because its removal doesn’t add much to the 50%-by-weight waste stream diversion goal.

Dart Manufacturing, a food container facility in Lodi, is eager to acquire all the polystyrene it can. Although Master Gardener in-person activities, such as the polystyrene collection, are on hold due to COVID, you can recycle your polystyrene (and your neighbor’s) the next time you’re in the Lodi area:

Dart Container Corporation accepts polystyrene 24 hours a day. They have a bin on their property close to highway 12 that is available for drop off.

Dart Container (209) 333-8088  Address: 400 E Victor Rd Lodi, CA 95240

Foam Fabricators will accept expanded polystyrene, Monday through Thursday 7:00 am through 3:00 pm. They are also open Friday from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm. When you arrive at their facility, please call their phone number and someone will meet you at their gate to accept the expanded polystyrene.

Foam Fabricators (209) 523-7002 Address: 301 9th St, Modesto, CA 95351

In addition to recycling polystyrene, here are some other suggestions for ways to commemorate Earth Day:

Plant a tree. You’ll help reduce carbon dioxide—a greenhouse gas—in the atmosphere (carbon sequestration) and celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day, all at the same time.

Create a compost pile. Recycle those yard and garden clippings and prunings into “Gardener’s Gold” on-site. Keep your green waste out of the waste stream. Turn the compost pile you already have. Help nature’s decomposition process along.

Replace a light bulb. Exchange an incandescent bulb for a long-lived fluorescent one. You’ll help reduce energy use in your home, thus requiring less energy generation from the burning of fossil fuels and other sources.

Remove an invasive plant. Pull some ivy; remove your vinca or tear out a broom plant (maybe even one that you planted in error). Plant a California native in its place. Hand pull a patch of yellow star thistle.

Don’t drive. Set aside one day to only walk or ride your bike (non-motorized transportation). Stay home and burn less fuel in honor of Earth Day.

Bring your own bag. We’ve all seen the plastic bags from local retailers blowing alongside highways or stuck in trees and shrubs. Carry your groceries in a reusable tote.

Use your own mug. To begin and end this column with polystyrene foam, when you buy coffee, have them fill your mug from home. According to the website, each year Americans throw away 25,000,000,000 (that’s 25 BILLION) Styrofoam cups. 500 years from now that Styrofoam cup you used will still be sitting in a landfill.

Let’s keep this material out of the landfill.

Rebecca Miller-Cripps is a University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener of Tuolumne County.

UCCE Master Gardeners of Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties can answer home gardening questions. Call 209-533-5912 or go to: to fill out our easy-to-use problem questionnaire. Check out our website at: You can also find us on Facebook.