Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Help clear Walcott Woods Sat. Nov. 7 at 10 am!

Dear MaynardCAN-ners,

Our group has been a bit out of commission as a group for a few years, as our active members have spread out to work on our 3 bigger projects with other committees: the emerging Assabet Village Food Co-op, the fate of the golf course and the development of 129 Parker St.

Thanks for your patience! Updates about our work on these 3 projects is for another email.

**Now I want to invite you all to join us in cleaning up an emerging piece of conservation land, Walcott Woods, on November 7 at 10 - noon. (Rain date Nov. 8) Walcott Woods is a small square of land bordered by Walcott St., Lewis St. and Prospect St. and some neighbors. The entrance is between 25 and 27 Lewis St.

Wear insect repellent and long pants to protect against any poison ivy. Bring a shovel garden gloves if you have them; we will have some gloves there, as well as other tools and trash bags.

The Maynard Conservation Commission got a grant from CISMA and the River Stewardship Council to hire a landscaper and get some expert advice about replacing invasives with hardy natives, and the  work is beginning to show! The New England Wildflower Society did a botanical survey of the plot, which will be available on Nov. 7th.

If you want a copy of the flyer, which I cannot attach to a google group post, or if you have any questions, please email me at sherry@sherryzitter.com, or call my cell at 617-610-2763. Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Summary of "Trash Talk" on Feb. 11, 2012

Notes from MaynardCAN!/Transition Maynard’s “Trash Talk” 2-11-2012:

[Please note: The following is a summary of the event in article form. Blog comments and invitation for feedback are in other posts.]

A well-attended book discussion on reducing waste was hosted by Transition Maynard, a project of MaynardCAN! (Climate Action Network), at the Maynard Public LIbrary on Saturday, February 11, 2012. Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage, Heather Roger’s startling expose on the history and mega-business of trash, focused our discussion as a jumping-off point for action at local and state/Federal levels. 

Two of Rogers’ main points were 1. how the costs of making and disposing of packaging are externalized from the corporation to the taxpayer and the environment -- they get the profits, we pay to get rid of packaging (and the product when it wears out) and the Earth bears the burden; and 2. that we must reduce production and disposables from the front end, not trash at the back end. She muses: “If it's feasible to create the kinds of facilities that handle our garbage today - to bond poisons with neutralizing materials at the molecular level as they're leaving an incinerator stack... then surely it must be possible to restructure production to eliminate waste before it gets made.”

Two special guests added information and energy to our discussion: Kevin Sweet, who as Assistant Town manager wears many hats at Town Hall, came in his current capacity as Integrated Solid Waste Manager, a position overseeing our trash and recycling program. Besides discussing the process of renewing or changing trash contractors (detailed above in Mike’s post), Kevin answered many detailed questions and fielded ideas and suggestions about how our town can deal with litter and trash issues more effectively. Kevin also mentioned Maynard’s award last year for our recycling program and shared that our recycling percentage is higher than many communities, over 40%, giving us a low per capita trash level in Massachusetts and aving taxpayer monies.
Rob Gogan served on the Maynard Board of Health for 10 years, introducing our curbside recycling and  “pay as you throw” collection programs and munnicipal composting. Currently at Harvard University Campus Services, he oversees recycling, surplus and trash there and works to help Harvard “waste nothing.” Rob gave us hope by sharing data that 2/3 of our trash is actually recycleable (27% paper, 16% plastic, 6% metal and 17% organic matter) - so as we teach ourselves and each other to compost and recycle more effectively, our amount of trash can be reduced quite a bit!

Participants came up with fabulous, creative ideas about follow-up on this issue. Some frequently mentioned suggestions were: 

1. encouraging local businesses to reduce wasteful packaging in a variety of ways, from persuasion and accolades for those who recycle more, to town ordinances,* to returning the packaging at the register! (for example, require local businesses that sell alkaline batteries to accept them back and recycle them properly; require Walgreen’s and CVS to accept sharps and old medications if they profit from filling prescriptions). Other concrete suggestions were to urge all local restaurants to use compostable take-out containers rather than environmentally negative styrofoam, and to change over our school cafeterias from using styrofoam to compostable trays.

2. write to manufacturers directly asking them to reduce or dispense with packaging

3. creating a blog on the MaynardCAN.org website to continue supporting each other’s efforts

4. re-using everything possible rather than recycling; utilizing freecycle.org or other give-away organizations; linking the Board of Health website’s list “How do I get rid of...?”  to MaynardCAN.org

5. downsizing one’s home and/or possessions (rather than feeding the rapidly growing Self-Storage market) - if we need help, using one of our local residents in the organizing field

6. using the money one can gain from re-use and re-sale to support the costs of downsizing (up to $730 for a one-ton truck to haul away junk), and to support local trash-reduction programs

7. push the US Congress to stop treating corporations as people

8. set a municipal goal of Zero Waste, becoming the first Massachusetts town to do so

9. more education in town about how to compost; increase our rate of composting

10. setting up a local food co-op that can be used as a community gathering place and a center for loaning shared tools and appliances (the “Zip car” concept through community-building), recycle & swap center; or set up a swap center for paint, furniture, etc. at our town dump

11. holding neighborhood lawn pot-lucks in warmer weather to get to know our neighbors and discuss these ideas with them; create local neighborhood projects of reducing and re-using.

12. spreading the word about dangers of medications in our waters: have campaigns and signs - “Don’t Dump Medications in the Toilet! Wrap them in duct tape and put in trash to be incinerated!” around town and on websites.

13. learn how to influence others at all levels for positive change. 

Reducing our Trash OUTPUT at the Back End...

There are so many ways we can reduce what we throw away by the old familiar watchwords: Reuse, reduce, recycle! You'll notice that there are many overlaps in these 3 categories; also some analogs in this post to the previous one, since some of what we do to reduce input (making gifts rather than buying them for example) simultaneously reduces output (no packaging from the gifts or shopping bags).

Reuse: Do you need to throw away those old t-shirts and socks? Can the t-shirts become rags? Can the socks transform into hand puppets, with buttons for eyes and a few fun odds and ends?

What about the cardboard boxes you just broke down? Some folks use them on their gardens to smother a weed crop before planting veggies...

If you want to reuse those plastic bags, you can use string to make a few "bag-clotheslines" and hang washed bags with clothespins until they dry. We have 4 of those elasticized tube bags (where you put bags in on top and pull them out the bottom) on the back of a door - one for handled bags, one for clear veggie bags, one for small baggie size, and one for miscellaneous. Ziplocks are easily kept in a used tissue box under the sink: large ones folded in half and small ones in a large one to find sizes easily.

Fancy or pretty bags can be kept to use as gift bags.

Reduce:   If you train everyone in your household to "think before you throw," much of your "trash" may be avoided. Rob Gogan, one of our February 11th speakers, shared that 2/3 of our trash is actually recycleable: 27% paper, 16% plastic, 6% metal and 17% organic matter... which leads to our next idea:

Start a compost pile! (Kevin Sweet's Dept. of Health office sells plastic composters for below cost!)  If you don't know how to compost, add questions at the end of this post and one of our resident experts will help you - and others. Every question one person asks helps others who also want to know; another form of recycling.  ;-]

Recycle: The Household Goods Recycling of Mass. in Acton (hgrm.org) collects furniture, some mattresses, books, appliances, kitchen stuff and many other household goods for those in need. Big Brother/Big Sister and other charitable organizations make giving even easier by sending you a postcard to register for home pick-up. Other electronics, as well as paints and toxic cleaners, can be saved for Maynard's Hazardous Waste Day, usually in June. (However, disposing of toxins costs the Town a lot of money, so any paint you can swap or give to a friend helps our town budget.)

Check your recycling schedule and associated DPW flyer for tires, appliances, TV's and other things that can be brought to the DPW Barn on specific Saturdays; check the town website for dates.

 Torn plastic bags and some plastic packaging can be recycled in the grocery store.

NOW:  it's your turn! What ideas do you have about how to reduce trash, at the front and/or the back end? What do you throw away most frequently? What fills up most of your trash? And do you have any sources for bulk tofu or tempeh, as wrappers from these fill up my trash most frequently?!

Let's work collaboratively to reduce all of our trash!

Sherry, for MaynardCAN & Transition Maynard

Monday, February 13, 2012

How Do We Reduce Trash?

Perhaps we can have a dialogue together about creative ways to reduce our trash output -- as well as our initial input that creates trash!

The input discussion involves our whole consumerist society, that teaches us from an early age through our media to buy, buy, buy... Need cheering up? Buy something! Want to help our nation after September 11th? Go shopping! Celebrating Valentine's Day or a special occasion? Show her (or him) your love through spending!

As Victoria pointed out in our Saturday trash discussion, this attitude has only been around for 50 years or so. That's pretty new in the scheme of human consciousness, and can be reversed with under a generation of good effort.

What are some ways we can reduce our INPUT?   

 (Please add your comments and ideas and challenges to this topic! 
In a week or so, we'll discuss ways to reduce OUTPUT...)

1. Swap with neighbors. I was in a women's group that swapped books, clothing, jewelry - we would bring bags of our own clean-outs and find treasures in those of others.

2. Use freecycle.org, the fabulous local and national group on-line that you can join and then give away your trash (someone else's treasures) and request/pick up stuff locally (their trash, your treasure). We've gotten lots of practically new stuff from freecycle, from tiles for our entire bathroom to sheets and blankets for a temple Bat Mitzvah drive. (Craig's List also has a large free section.)

Re-use is best! Nothing taken from the Earth to produce it! Nothing new in the waste stream, from manufacturing waste, packaging waste or consumer waste!

3. Use Craig's List (craigslist.org) to find good stuff cheap. We got a JennAir gas stove under half price on CL because the sellers were changing their kitchen decor! (Planned obsolescence, ingrained as the American Way!) People have bought tubs, exercise equipment (a biggie), and other items large and small for a fraction of their original cost. Re-use is best! (See note above ;-)

4. Find ways to use what we have:

a. Mending clothes:  I've had a lot of fun mending and patching clothes recently. Even fancier clothes have a fun new look with embroidered cross-stitches in contrasting colors on a patch from fancier material...  Start a new trend!

b. Repairing all sorts of stuff - with nails, screws, Superglue, wire, wood scraps, etc. etc. You'd be surprised what you can fix if you put your mind to it -- or ask for help from a handy friend; most are flattered to be asked and happy to share their knowledge. I bet you have a skill they don't - or do their food shopping next time you do yours, and save gas too!

c. Make it, or find it in your stuff! I've been amazed at what I have in my basement that can be turned into useable items: fabric for curtains and patches, odds and ends to make gifts (I make many of the gifts I give, and some don't take much time)... When I wanted a rack for drying plastic bags, I set up a mini-"clothesline" with brightly colored clothespins over the sink - more fun and effective than buying a wooden rack, not to mention no cost or counter space!

d. most radical and incredibly life-changing: see if you can do without it! Remember the old Yankee saying: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." ? It is amazingly creative to brainstorm ways around buying something we think we need.

If I saw something in the store that I wanted when I was young, my mother would ask me to think about it. If I really wanted it in a week (and it was reasonable and affordable), we'd go back and get it. But 99% of the time, it was a momentary desire and within a day I'd forgotten it completely. By the time I had my own babysitting money at 11 years old, I knew how to delay that impulse to buy and see what I REALLY wanted to do with my money.

So please throw in your ideas, questions, skepticism - let's have an intriguing discussion about reducing INPUT...

Sherry for MaynardCAN!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Don't throw meds in toilet! (or sink)

You may know that our water systems are being polluted more and more by people dumping medications in the toilet or sink -- but what to do instead? Kevin Sweet, our Solid Waste Manager, says that for now, the best and safest option is to wrap the medication in duct tape and throw away with your regular trash. Maynard's trash is incinerated in Millbury, so no medication ends up in a landfill to endanger animals.

Please spread the word to others about safe disposal of medicines.

Long term, we hope to get funding to join the National Pharmaceutical Take-back Day or to set up funding for our police station to be able to accept used medications. Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

MaynardCAN Blog

Hello, and welcome to the new MaynardCAN blog spot.
This blog is being used to help circulate information and ideas about how the MaynardCAN community can work harder and better to use less energy and create less waste in our society.

Today (February 11th), we have close to 30 people in The Maynard Public Library currently watching a presentation about "Gone Tomorrow -  The Hidden Life of Garbage."     "Over the past 30 years, worldwide garbage output has exploded, doubling in the U.S. alone. Gone Tomorrow explains that, despite popular wisdom, this torrent of rubbish is not primarily the responsibility of the consumer. In fact, shoppers often have little choice in the wastes they generate. Consider packaging: tossed cans, bottles, boxes and wrappers now take up more than a third of all U.S. landfill space. More prolific today than ever before, packaging is garbage waiting to happen."

After showing a shortclip about the book/documentary, each member of the audience introduced themselves and provided a short statement about what strikes them most strongly about the book/documentary. One of the common themes is nting the difference between individual behaviors and corporate behaviors.  The vast bulk of waste is commercial waste, yet as individual consumers, we are left with picking up the collective responsibilities for our waste.

Kevin Sweet from the Maynard Town Hall (Public Health Director among many other responsibilities) was here to give as short presentation about waste disposal in Maynard.
  • Maynard Current curbside pickup contract expires this year.  The town could have renewed the contract with no repercussions.   However, the decision was made to explore other alternatives.  The Maynard DPW has been brought into the process to look at current proposals.  At this point, the field has been narrowed down to a handful of possible companies.
  • One of the biggest decisions is whether to go with dual stream or single stream recycling.  
  • Comment:  Some people occasionally see recycling being mixed in the same truck.  Kevin noted that that this is sometimes because one of the trucks is being serviced.  Nobody should be seeing recycling and trash being mixed together.
  • Kevin did point participants towards the Town of Maynard website where you can find an alphabetized list of how to dispose of a wide range of items.
  • The discussion continued - but the blog has to stop now.