4 Ways to Make May the Month You Kick Waste to the Curb

Do you have some grand spring cleaning plans in mind this month? Or even just a few items to check off your list? Perhaps you’re giving a room a fresh coat of paint (with leftover paint cans to dispose of), mowing the lawn and getting the yard back in fighting shape (with grass, weeds and other yard waste to toss), or organizing the house or garage (likely discovering a slew of old items that need to be donated, recycled or carefully disposed of)?

Make sure the spring cleaning you do around your home and yard doesn’t make a mess elsewhere.

All of the items we put in our waste bins is either sent to a landfill or is incinerated, and both processes can pollute our air and water. And they sit there taking up space as they slowly rot, instead of being repurposed as another product.

Chances are, the majority of “waste” you create this spring could find a home other than the landfill. And that matches up with what’s happening across the Cambridge community. Cambridge has an ambitious plan to reduce trash 30% by 2020 (using 2008 as a baseline; we have already reduced it 23%) and 80% by 2050.

To reach that goal, we need everyone in Cambridge to get involved. And we’ve made it easy. Here are 4 items to keep out of your trash — and what to do with them instead:

1. Yard Waste. Chances are you’ve been working in the yard some this spring. Don’t forget to separate out your yard waste so it doesn’t end up at the landfill. That includes leaves, grass, plants, weeds, shrub prunings and some limbs (get the details).

Tip: Place all your yard waste in barrels with a City Yard Waste sticker facing the street!

2. Hazardous Waste. There are some items that should never be tossed in the trash can as they can…….The next Hazardous Waste Collection day is June 30 at the Volpe Transportation Center. That’s where you can drop off batteries, CFL bulbs, paints, weed killers, car fluids and more. See the list of items they will accept, and start piling up your collection now.

Tip: Remind your neighbors (post a note to the neighborhood listserv) and offer to collect items from those, including the elderly or disabled, who can’t make it.

3. Recyclables.  Recycling is mandatory in Cambridge, but it’s also “single stream” — which means you dump bottles, cans, cardboard, etc, all in one bin — so it’s easy.If you need a cart, use our request form.

Tip: Not sure when pickup is for your house? Just enter your address into My Cambridge Schedule.

4. Compost. Cambridge recently expanded curbside composting to all building with 1 to 12 units. For those eligible, food scraps and compostables will be picked up weekly on the same day as trash and recycling. After it is treated, your kitchen waste will be used as fertilizer on New England farms! For those not eligible, consider paying for food scrap collection, or dropping off food scraps at one of our 3 drop-off sites.

Tip: Start simple. Put a few things like apple cores, banana peels and egg shells in your kitchen bin instead of the trash. Line the bin with compostable bags you can buy at any grocery store or with paper bags.

So, what goes where? That such a frequent question that we created “Get Rid of it Right.” Use the handy app on the website (or download it from the App Store or Google Play) to type in names of items, and it will tell you how and where to “Get Rid of it Right.” There is also a fun companion game that is a great learning tool for any age, but especially fun for kids to drag and drop items into the correct bin . You’ll also learn about our collection schedule, including holidays and special waste events (think Shred events or Hazardous Waste Days!).

As you embark on your spring cleaning, think about how you can take advantage of these opportunities to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in our landfills. If you try to build it into your routine now, it could become a habit for your family — helping Cambridge be a healthier, cleaner and greener place.

To find out more about what Cambridge is doing to reduce waste and tackle a number of other sustainability issues, visit our new Sustainability Dashboard.

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