Perhaps the most exciting trash topic is the growth and success of Zero Waste Events in Falmouth. An event can be considered a Zero Waste Event when 90 percent of the overall waste generated is repurposed, recycled and/or composted.
An earlier column reported on the success of the 2018 St. Barnabas Strawberry Festival, the Falmouth Road Race and the Cape Cod Marathon in achieving or approaching this goal. A more recent success is the Volunteers in Public Schools Feast of Falmouth and Beyond fundraiser. In its first attempt and partnering with North Falmouth-based composting company Compost with Me, event organizers and attendees separated 383 pounds of compostable waste. While not weighed, very little trash and recyclables were produced. Interestingly, 98 percent of the compostable material was servingware. For anyone interested in learning about how to go about organizing and implementing a Zero Waste Event, we highly recommend that you attend tomorrow’s Strawberry Festival at St. Barnabas Church on Main Street. In addition to great lobster rolls and strawberry shortcake, you can see how such an event operates. While there, please do not hesitate to talk with the folks staffing the trash/recycling/compostables receptacles to learn more.
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Getting residential recycling right is an ongoing challenge. Here is a question recently addressed to the SWAC: Do I need to place recyclable paper waste—newspapers, junk mail, cereal boxes, et cetera—in paper bags before placing them in my curbside recycling barrel? The answer: If your curbside barrel has a tightly fitting lid, the answer is no. You can mix loose paper, cans, bottles and other recyclable containers in the barrel. However, if you use an open, rectangular plastic box for curbside recycling, the paper must be securely placed within a paper bag, so that the contents cannot be caught by the wind and dispersed. Two very important reminders: 1) never use plastic bags to contain curbside recyclables and 2) clean plastic, glass and metal food, beverage and cleaning product containers are recyclable; other plastic, glass and metal objects are not recyclable at curbside.
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Congratulations to Falmouth’s Peter Walter, the winner of Keep Massachusetts Beautiful’s first Litter Buster of the Year Award. Nearly every day of the year, Peter rides the length of the Shining Sea Bikeway, stopping to pick up any litter along the way. The good news is that Peter reports that it is no longer a battle, just an occasional skirmish. “It is such a meaningful and simple thing to do,” he said. “To get up in the morning and know you have something to do that is of relevance and importance and to go to bed at night knowing that you’ve done it is an incredibly fulfilling feeling.” We know there are many unsung heroes in our community who like Peter are picking up litter. Thank you all. Imagine the positive impact if we all followed their lead. It’s easy—if you see litter, pick it up. The result: A litter-free Falmouth.
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More is happening on the litter-reduction front. A chart summarizing the Falmouth Litter Reduction Team’s results of 18 roadside litter surveys was a highlight at the Team’s May 20 presentation to the selectmen. These surveys were one element of an ongoing, multi-step process leading up to the team’s followup presentation to the selectmen scheduled for July 22. At that board of selectmen meeting, the members of the team plan to present their findings and the team’s recommendations. One important step in the fact-gathering process will take place July 11 when the team will host a community forum on litter. This meeting will be held in the Hermann Foundation Meeting Room at Falmouth Library from 6:30 to 8 PM. After the team gives a brief summary of its findings to date, community members will be invited to share their observations and concerns as well as their suggestions on ways to reduce litter in Falmouth. This forum will be broadcast live on FCTV in order to reach as many residents as possible. The team encourages residents to come share ideas and observations at this forum.
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Last Saturday the Cape Cod Extension Service hosted a Household Hazardous Waste collection at Falmouth High School. About 32,000 pounds were collected from residents of Falmouth, Bourne, Mashpee and Sandwich. Although this event has passed, it is worth noting the program’s value to the community, particularly seniors or anyone else who may soon be moving from their home. My neighbor is one of these. He has lived in his home for 52 years and had the household hazardous waste to prove it—dry and liquid pesticides and herbicides, fertilizers, oil-based paint, lubricating and motor oils, acids, bleach, solvents—you name it. By taking advantage of this free to the user program, he saved several hundreds of dollars that would have been charged by a commercial company and avoided the risk that someone might have disposed of these hazardous materials in the trash or dumped them in the woods. The next such event will be at Mashpee High School, 500 Old Barnstable Road (off Route 151) on Saturday, August 17. For more information, go to www.loveyourlocalwater.org.