01/30/2011: "To Or Not Recycle Cardboard & Newspaper"
With the new recycling fees now in place, you might be re-thinking the way you manage your unwanted paper materials. Here’s an idea from Public Works that may save you money, while helping to keep a useful resource on the islands.
The very best destiny for a cardboard box (built to be durable!) is for it to be re-used up to five times before considering it waste. This creates less pollution and greatly conserves resources too.
Once you’ve used your boxes to the max, try this “disposal” alternative: Some call it lasagna composting or sheet composting. By layering areas of your garden or landscape with certain materials, including cardboard and newspaper, you can build healthy soil to create a new weed-free plot or pathway …without much labor at all.
• Start with a layer of nitrogen-rich material (manure, weeds, grass clippings, leaves in the summer); cover right over existing weeds or chop them up to speed up the “cooking;”
• Add a layer of carbon-rich material (flattened cardboard or several sheets of newspaper);
• Cover with a layer of compost and/or straw mulch and wait for the miracle of decomposition to build an enriched bed of plantable soil! Top off your layers in path areas with bark, other mulch material, or gravel.
• Another layer of cardboard or paper can be added, topped off with compost for a deeper bed.
• MAKE SURE EACH LAYER IS WELL-WATERED (this is not necessary if the plot is already soaked with rainwater, like NOW!).
• Ask your neighbors to save their cardboard and newspaper for you if they’re not using it themselves.
• Search the Web for more detailed instructions for “sheet” or “lasagna” composting.
A BURNING ISSUE…or, Why waste resources?
Whether you burn in an outdoor burn pile or an indoor wood stove or fireplace, you’re probably not burning at a high enough temperature to prevent pollution.
Clean air…we all want it! We all deserve it! And, we all need to do our part to prevent air pollution in whatever ways we can.
Burning is not a viable, safe disposal alternative since…NO fumes are good fumes. The breathing of someone with asthma or other respiratory condition is very much compromised when they have to inhale particles from incomplete burning in their neighborhood. They are the “canaries in the coal mine,” warning us of an unhealthy situation for anyone’s lungs.
Smoke from outdoor fires contains toxic compounds and fine particles linked not only with asthma but with cancer and cardiovascular disease, especially in children. A smoldering fire is the very worst scenario. If you must burn natural vegetation use a very hot, quick fire.
Burning garbage, including cardboard or any paper product, is illegal. The Clean Air Act prohibits burning of anything but natural wood for good reason: to protect our health!
Thank you, islanders, for doing your part to keep our air breathable…and for preventing waste by turning your cardboard and newspaper into a valuable soil-building resource!