Spring Cleaning: recycling, donating, and composting

Environmental Notes

Caitlin Bergh
Oakdale Environmental
Management Commission

It’s that time of year again, cabin fever is setting in and residents are getting the ‘spring cleaning’ itch. If you have the ‘throw it out’ mentality, please, instead, rethink possible ways to reuse or recycle unwanted items. Beside curbside recycling, drop-off recycling is an option for paper, metal, glass, plastic and other products at the Environmental Center in Woodbury, 4039 Cottage Grove Dr. Items accepted include:

• Paper: newspaper, office paper, cereal boxes, magazines and catalogs, corrugated cardboard, telephone books, juice boxes, books, grocery bags cages, fence posts and tools)

• Metal: aluminum and steel cans, foil and trays, scrap metal (pots and pans).

• Glass: bottles and jars

• Plastic bottles, yogurt tubs, clam shell containers, ice cream pails, milk bottles

• Plastic bags, shrink wrap, stretch wrap, plastic shopping bags

• Extension cords and holiday lights

Recycling is a great way to reduce waste and increase the amount of reusable products. In the future, keep in mind to look for products made of recyclable materials.

Another alternative to sending items to the trash can is donating them to a charity or donation center. Nearby donation centers are listed in the Washington County Residential Disposal guide at www.co.washington.mn.us/DocumentCenter/View/1776 (scroll down to ‘donation opportunities’). Each donation center has different guidelines and needs, so be sure to contact the location before donating items. Possible items for donation include: books, building materials, cell phones, clothing, accessories, electronics, eyeglasses, furniture, household items, recreational items, small appliances, toys and vehicles. In many cases, donations can also be tax deductible.

In some cases, items should be disposed of in a particular manner. The Washington County Environmental Center accepts a variety of hazardous materials and substances. Several common items are located below:

• Automotive and Recreation: antifreeze, gasoline, motor oil, kerosene, propane tanks, brake fluid, transmission oil, rechargeable batteries, car batteries

• Electronics: cell phones, computers, DVD/VCR players, fax machines, TVs, printers

• Home Improvement: driveway sealer, paint, paint remover, roofing tar, stain/varnish

• Home Items: drain cleaner, fluorescent lights, partially filled aerosol cans, mercury thermometers, hazardous household cleaners, fire extinguishers

• Yard and Garden: bug sprays, insect killer, weed killer, rodent bait, pool chemicals

Items that are not disposed of properly risk the chance of leeching into our soils and water ways. Many of the above items are toxic and poisonous to animals and humans.

When cleaning up lawns and gardens this spring, organic materials are welcomed at composting sites, also located in the Washington County Residential Disposal Guide (www.co.washington.mn.us/DocumentCenter/View/1776  scroll down to ‘compost sites’).

Items include brush, Christmas trees, grass, lake weeds, leaves, pumpkins, stumps treated wood, tree waste, finished compost, mulch and wood chips. For more information contact the composting sites; fees may apply. Curbside pickup may be an option; contact your hauler for more information.

All in all, please be sure to reduce, reuse and recycle!


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