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Celebrate Earth Day: Dispose of Problem Trash

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Wednesday, April 22, is Earth Day 2009.  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 Timbron International —are offering you multiple ways to dispose of your problem trash on Saturday, April 25, and Sunday, April 26.

•    On Saturday, April 25th, Master Gardeners will collect #6 Styrofoam* (also known as expanded polystyrene foam—EPS) from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. behind Waste Management’s offices on Camage Avenue in the Tuolumne Road Industrial Park in Sonora.  

•    On the same day, Tuolumne County Solid Waste is hosting a Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Day from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (reservations required; call 1-800-811-2435).  Why not create your own Earth Day celebration and household clean-up day?  Get rid of your unused household chemicals and that bulky, what-do-I-do-with-this Styrofoam all at the same time.  

•    On Sunday, April 26, Master Gardeners will collect Styrofoam only from 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the same location.

Master Gardeners are asking you to save clean white packaging foam (typically used to pack computers, TVs, appliances, furniture, wine) and rigid white foam insulation (typically used around building foundations).  Remove any tape, stickers, labels, paint or cardboard.  Please note that neither bubble wrap and packing peanuts nor used food containers can be accepted.  On April 25th and 26th you can deliver your accumulated polystyrene to Waste Management on Camage Avenue in Sonora.  A Master Gardener volunteer will be there to help unload your car.

Timbron International, a manufacturing plant in Stockton, is committed to helping recycle polystyrene locally to be used to make extruded moldings for the construction industry.  Their products are available for purchase at local home centers, and are both recycled and recyclable.

In addition to recycling polystyrene, here are some other 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.  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.  Recycle it on April 25th and 26th.  For more information call the Master Gardener office at 533-5696.

Rebecca Miller-Cripps is the Master Gardener Coordinator for Tuolumne County.