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New Gleaning Project Prevents Waste
Picked Produce Will Benefit food Banks
It’s a stunning fact: About 25 percent of commercially grown food goes to waste in this country. And you’ve probably seen a neighborhood fruit tree ripen beautifully, only to have all the fruit fall and rot on the ground. In our busy world, excess fruit and vegetables often go unused. This wasted food also burdens our solid waste system and creates odor and pest problems in our communities. At the same time, demand at local food banks has increased dramatically in recent years.
Multiple Agencies Turn Excess Into Resource
A coalition of Pierce County organizations and individuals is coming together to create the Pierce County Gleaning Project (PCGP). Their mission is to turn food waste into resources by “gleaning”— harvesting excess fresh fruit from neighborhood trees and local farms—in order to increase fresh food at local food banks. The gleaning project will be staffed by the St. Leo Food Connection working in collaboration with numerous community partners, including the Pierce County Master Gardeners and the Pierce County Food Coalition. “We’re excited to work with these groups because this is a community-based effort that will help to achieve our goal of diverting 75 percent of the waste from the landfill,” said Kristen McIvor, Environmental Educator, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities. The PCGP will focus on two primary sources of produce— commercial growers and homeowners throughout the county.
Community Involvement Needed
You can help the gleaning team in a number of ways. • Volunteer to glean. Sign up to help with farm gleaning or fruit tree harvest. • “Donate” your fruit tree. Contact the PCGP if you would like to donate fruit from your fruit tree. You can have it fully picked, partially harvested or have a bag of picked fruit left with you. Accepted fruits include: apples, plums, pears, peaches, grapes and
Earth Matters is a publication of Pierce County Public Works and Utilities, Solid Waste Division.
Printed on 30% post-consumer recycled paper and recyclable through Pierce County’s curbside recycling program.
Pierce County Executive: Pat McCarthy
Pierce County Council: Roger Bush, Chair Shawn Bunney Tim Farrell Joyce McDonald Barbara Gelman Terry Lee Dick Muri
Gleaning Project, cont’d.
berries. These should be pesticide and worm-free and harvested from the tree or bush (not the ground). • Be a neighborhood coordinator. Tired of seeing fruit go to waste in your neighborhood? Volunteer to organize fellow neighbors to harvest the trees in your neighborhood. Training and equipment will be provided—no experience required. • Scout fruit trees in your neighborhood. If you notice fruit going to waste on a neighborhood tree, PCGP can provide outreach materials to help you talk to your neighbors about
donating their fruit to our program. • Spread the word. Tell all your friends, family and co-workers! You can request outreach materials or download them from the gleaning project website. You can also be a “fan” on Facebook. Search for the Pierce County Gleaning Project and click “be a fan.” • Provide the tools. The project welcomes your surplus harvesting equipment such as ladders and boxes. The gleaning project is an excellent way to help hungry people in our community and reduce waste at the same time. For more information, please visit the Pierce County Gleaning Project website, www.piercecountygleaningproject.org, email: info@piercecountygleaning project.org, or call Rebecca Goossen at (253) 327-1710.
CAPE Keeps Neighborhood Cleanup Affordable
Need an incentive to start a community spring cleaning project? Assistance is available from Pierce County Responds—a program coordinated by Public Works and Utilities. The Community Assistance and Public Education (CAPE) program was created to make County resources available for a scheduled community cleanup day. Potential CAPE assistance includes: • Litter Credits: Eligible recipients at properties in unincorporated Pierce County may receive a $100 disposal credit at participating transfer stations. • Junk Vehicle Affidavits: These are used in place of a title to have a junk vehicle removed from your property. Hulk haulers will not remove junk vehicles if you do not have either a title or a junk vehicle affidavit.
• “Dumpsters”: These large containers can be provided to clean up public properties such as a park or open space owned by your community (cannot be used to clean private properties). Once filled, the CAPE program will pay the disposal fees for the waste collected by volunteers. If your community is selected for a CAPE project, Pierce County Responds staff will work with your community representative to arrange a date we will be in your neighborhood. A community meeting will take place before the actual cleanup day. Please call (253) 798-4636 or submit an online request at www.piercecountyresponds.org.
Pierce County Responds has programs to help with litter cleanup on private and public property.
Celebrate Earth Day April 22
Spring Cleaning: Not Everything Goes in Trash
Following are tips for environmentally safe ways to dispose of household items. coMPuters, Monitors, tVs: Recycle these items free of charge through the E-Cycle Washington program. Visit www.ecyclewashington.org or call 1-800-RECYCLE for more information. Another option is the Take It Back Network, businesses that recycle these items for a small fee. See the participants’ list, and learn more about the Take It Back Network, at www.piercecountywa.org/tibn or call (253) 798-2179.
old clotHes, furniture, Books:
(open Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m.) For details on how to prepare and transport household hazardous waste, call the Hazardous Waste Line at 1-800-287-6429 or visit www.piercecountywa. org/hhw.
lateX Paint is water-
Donate or sell items that are in good condition. Try a consignment shop, thrift store, yard sale or list online. Also check out the free online option, www.2good2toss.com.
oil-Based Paint, Pesticides, HouseHold cHeMicals and otHer HouseHold HaZardous Wastes:
based and not hazardous. If you can’t use it up or give it away, dry out the paint and put the can in the garbage with the lid off. (Landfills and garbage haulers can’t accept wet paint.) To speed up drying, add kitty litter, sawdust, grass clippings or thin strips of newspaper. If the paint can is too full to add an absorbent, line a cardboard box with a plastic bag, pour in paint and mix with an absorbent.
fluorescent BulBs and tuBes
These products are labeled “corrosive,” “flammable,” “poison,” “toxic,” “danger,” “warning” or “caution.” Examples include drain cleaner, insecticides, weed killer and pool chemicals. Try to use them up or give leftovers to a neighbor. Don’t put them in the garbage. Instead, take the items to the facilities listed below. Pierce County residents can drop off products free of charge. • Tacoma Hazardous Waste Collection Facility at 3510 S. Mullen Street, just east of Fircrest (open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., except major holidays) • Hidden Valley Transfer Station, 17925 Meridian Street E., Puyallup
contain small amounts of mercury and should never be placed in the garbage. Take It Back Network participants who collect fluorescent bulbs and tubes include: McLendon Hardware stores (Bulbs: no charge. Tubes: fee) and Seattle Lighting (Bulbs and tubes: fee for both). Other recycling locations include the Hidden Valley Hazardous Waste Facility and the Tacoma Hazardous Waste Facility. For more information visit www.piercecountywa.org/fbulb.
unWanted Medicines: Unwanted and
with coffee grounds, kitty litter or sawdust, then add water. Seal it in another bag. Throw it in your garbage. Destroy prescription information. For more information visit www.safedrugdisposalnw.org or www.medicinereturn.com. Our online recycling and disposal directory, at www.piercecountywa.org/ recycle, lists locations to recycle, dis-
pose or donate items in Pierce County. From appliances and carpet to microwave ovens and remodeling debris, this website lists more than 100 categories to assist you with your recycling and disposal needs. You can also contact the Pierce County Solid Waste Division at (253) 798-2179 for more information.
Borrow a Kit for
Fish-Friendly Car Washing
Your fundraising car wash might be bad news for local waterways. Water that runs into storm drains goes directly into our lakes, streams and Puget Sound with little or no treatment. The runoff from car washes contains soap, oil and other pollutants that are toxic to fish and other aquatic life. You can prevent the pollution with an easy-to-use car wash kit that Pierce County Public Works and Utilities loans out free. These kits use a storm drain insert and a pump to send the dirty water to a sewer system or vegetated area to soak into the ground. Find out more at www.piercecounty wa.org/carwash or call (253) 798-2725 to reserve a kit.
outdated pharmaceuticals pose serious safety and environmental threats ranging from child poisonings, illegal use, and contamination of our streams and drinking water. Safe disposal is quick and easy: Don’t flush them. Mix medicines in a sealable plastic bag
Puyallup Hosts Livable Communities
Don’t miss the worms, prizes, rain gardens and other fantastic features of the Livable Communities Fair, taking place at the Puyallup Spring Fair April 15-18. Coordinated by Pierce County, the Livable Communities Fair will offer hands-on activities, workshops and information at the fairgrounds’ Centennial Building, just inside the Blue Gate. Visitors will learn about green technologies, renewable energy, recycling and ideas for sustainable living in our community. What else can you do at the exhibit? • Enter the daily drawings for prizes such as a rain barrel or worm compost bin • Watch demonstrations of rain gardens and solar electricity • Make “garbage art” with your kids • Check out the latest eco-products • Learn about recycling, waste reduction and property cleanup programs For more information call (253) 798-7477 or visit www.livablepiercecounty.org.
The 700 students at Warren Hunt Elementary School in Puyallup are serious about their recycling. They have no trouble filling 18 recycling carts, and the garbage truck visits half as often as it did before. Hunt started with 14 recycle carts, then added four more when milk carton recycling began this year. The carts are filled to the brim and emptied every two weeks. “Sometimes we have so much recycling that we have to call for an extra pickup after just one week,” said Mike Hanson, Hunt Elementary’s counselor and recycling project coordinator. Milk cartons took up the most space in the school’s garbage container. Just by recycling milk cartons, Hunt has cut its garbage pickup from twice a
School’s Recycling Effort Equals Savings, Cleaner Campus
week to just once a week. The expanded recycling program began with a waste audit in the fall of 2008. Bob Dieckmann from Pierce County Public Works and Utilities and Leonard Cassman, Puyallup School District Maintenance Administrator, led the students through the audit. Patti Punzi’s 6th grade class is in charge of making sure the recycling bins are set out for pickup. “Mrs. Punzi and her class, and our custodian Carol Stanford, are the primary reason why our recycle program has had the success that we enjoy,” Hanson said. Besides the cost savings in garbage service, Hunt’s recycling efforts also have kept the school grounds cleaner. Paper and cardboard in open recycling containers used to blow across campus.
Now all the recycling containers are covered. “Hunt Elementary is proud of the work that we are doing,” Hanson said. “We will continue to find new ways to encourage even more recycling and ultimately reduce our carbon footprint.”
HUNT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL RECYCLING PROGRAM SUCCESS
2008 garbage cost $6,595.99
2009 garbage cost $3,560.42
2009 recycling cost $1,541.96
2009 garbage + recycling cost $5,102.20*
* Reduction in waste spending of $1,493.79
Natural Yard Care Workshops Start Soon
Learn about environmentally friendly yard and garden maintenance in a series of fun and informative workshops sponsored by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. Each series will consist of three workshops covering topics such as natural lawn care, garden pest management, soil basics, backyard composting, sustainable landscape design and smart watering for your lawn and garden. Refreshments and yard care door prizes will be offered at each workshop. To register, or for more information, please contact Geoff Rinehart at (253) 798-4587 or email@example.com.
Composting Classes Start With Basics
Learn how to improve the quality of your soil by putting leaves, grass clippings and other yardwaste to use. Our Backyard “Hot” Composting class covers the essentials: the composting process, how to compost even in small yards, using finished compost, avoiding and solving problems, and helpful equipment and tools. There is no cost, but registration is required.
Worm Bin Composting
Did you know that red worms have five pairs of hearts? Come to our food waste composting class to find out more about how this unique species makes some of the best nutrient-rich compost. You may register for “instruction only” for no fee, or for $30 you will go home with a 14-gallon plastic worm bin, a pound of red worms and class supplies. Classes are offered regularly. Registration is required. Deadline is two weeks before each class. For more information or to register, call (253) 798-2179 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also register online at www.piercecountywa.org/compost. Classes meet at the Environmental Services Building Training Room in University Place, unless otherwise noted.
NATURAL YARD CARE WORKSHOPS
Gig Harbor Civic Center / 3510 Grandview St. April 13, 21, 27 / 6:30-8:30 p.m. South Hill* / Meridian Habitat Park / 14422 Meridian E. April 15, 22, 29 / 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 22 class features TV/radio gardening personality Ed Hume Graham* / Frontier Park Lodge / 21800 Meridian E. May 4, 11, 18 / 6:30-8:30 p.m. *South Hill and Graham workshops are co-sponsored with Pierce County Parks & Recreation and require an $8 fee (pre-registration required).
To start your yard care regimen this spring, consider adding SoundGRO® Fertilizer to your list. SoundGRO® is a 100 percent naturally organic fertilizer, manufactured by Pierce County Public Works and Utilities from biosolids of the wastewater treatment process. Because of its water-insoluble nitrogen source, SoundGRO® will not easily wash away like chemical fertilizers. You can apply the SoundGRO® slow-release, non-burning pellets with a regular broadcast or drop spreader on lawns, trees, shrubs, flowering beds and vegetable gardens. SoundGRO® is available at the Chambers Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant, 10311 Chambers Creek Road West in University Place. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday–Friday; closed for lunch 11:30–noon. Prices start at $3.50 per 50-pound bag. Visit www.soundgro.com for more information or call (253) 798-4005.
SoundGRO Fertilizer Helps Close Loop
BackYard coMPostinG (Instruction Only) April 17, 10 a.m.–noon May 25, 10 a.m.–noon (WSU Extension, Puyallup) food Waste coMPostinG (Worm Bin) May 15, 10 a.m.–noon June 9, 6-8 p.m. Additional classes may be added.
Plan your spring and summer bicycle trips with our recently published bike map. American Disposal Pierce County Refuse Pierce County Public Works and (253) 414-0345 (253) 537-8687 Utilities produced the guide www.murreysdisposal.com www.lemayinc.com for bicyclists traveling to Lakewood Refuse University Place Refuse/ major centers, tourist (253) 588-1705 Westside Disposal attractions and other key www.lemayinc.com (253) 564-3212 destinations within Pierce www.uprefuse.com Murrey’s/DM Disposal County. It identifies existing bikeways (253) 414-0345 and scheduled bicycle improvements. The bike www.murreysdisposal.com map focuses on on-road bikeways (e.g. roads with wide lanes, paved shoulders and designated bicycle lanes) and paved shared-use trails. Visit www.piercecountywa.org/bikemap for a printer-friendly online version or for locations to pick up the brochure. You can also request a copy by emailing email@example.com or calling (253) 798-3552.
Map Shows BikeFriendly Routes
Who to Contact for Garbage Collection & Curbside Recycling
For More Information:
Pierce countY solid Waste diVision ......... (253) 798-2179 Pierce co. PuBlic Works and utilities, road Maintenance
24-hour Info Line ..............................................(253) 798-4115 Website ............................ www.piercecountywa.org/solidwaste E-mail ........................................ firstname.lastname@example.org
stateWide recYclinG inforMation ............1-800-recYcle tacoMa-Pierce co. HealtH dePt.
Adopt-A-Road Information.............................(253) 798-6000
Pierce countY resPonds .............................(253) 798-4636
Website ................................... www.piercecountyresponds.org E-mail ......................................... email@example.com Pierce County Responds accepts reports on a variety of land use, dumping and vehicle-related nuisances.
Household Hazardous Waste Info ................1-800-287-6429
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