I wish that what I am about to write could be far, far simpler. Though it takes some work, care, and thought to reduce waste in our rural environment.
These rather messy signs are the simplest version of our recycling at wheaton labs. Every facility at wheaton labs should have at least four bins (or cans, buckets - receptacles of some kind any way!); one for each of these categories.
The thing is, we do not have curbside recycling. We separate and take our recycling to town, and some times even to a different state. Not joking.
So, if you are here helping out and need to empty one of these containers (from an event site, a rental, the FPH, etc.), I'll do my best to explain where each category goes.
landfill Landfill items go in the garbage can in front of the garage* or the garbage can(s) behind the shop. When all garbage cans are full, they are taken to the transfer station were Paul pays to have it go to a landfill.
recycling Most recycling items go in the garage.
We sort our recycling into labeled boxes.
Recycling must be CLEAN. Currently we can recycle:
glass OR plastic containers with 2" diameter or larger lids (take for re-use to The Good Food Store - when they are collecting)
newspaper (we generally keep this separate from burnables to use for removing paint from RMH barrels)
catalogs / magazines (most magazines are kept in the library as reading material, so this is primarily for the catalogs that are like magazines)
plastic - only if it has a number, and must be separated
plastic bags (generally plastic shopping or produce bags, though we some times add in other types of plastic bags, too)
glass (glass without a 2" or larger lid we take to another state, or are saving up for making other things out of it)
clothing, household things go on the free shelf
Note that we are not able to recycle aseptic boxes at this time.
compost Otherwise known as kitchen scraps. Mostly we sheet compost these (put them in the garden with lots of mulch on top) though that gets confusing or complicated for new folks to do. A simpler alternative is to add it to the compost pile next to the shower shack.
NO paper/paper towels/cardboard/tea bags
NO produce labels There are cans of sawdust or wood chips next to the compost pile, next to the FPH water hydrant, and by the FPH back porch for:
mulching or covering over compost in the garden or the compost pile
replacing a layer in the bottom of the compost bucket
Please cover all (about to be rotting) food or kitchen scraps thoroughly with mulch of some kind. Otherwise it smells, breeds flies, and looks really trashy.
burnables We do not have a way to recycle paperboard, some types of cardboard, paper towels, and lots of other papery things. Though we heat and cook with wood, so this paper makes great fire starter materials. Burnables are stored in paper grocery bags or cardboard boxes near the firewood inside the garage.
Different areas have such different recycling protocols. Ours certainly seem new or different to a lot of our visitors and residents. It bears repeating: if recycled or reuse items are not clean, they get smelly or moldy, and the place we take them to (recycle facility or The Good Food Store) will put them in the landfill instead of recycling or reusing them.
*Note that the garage refers to the garage/library building which is up next to the Fisher Price House (FPH) higher up the driveway at base camp. The shop (aka the auditorium) is the large metal building lower down at base camp.
More about recycling (or, answering common questions before they are asked again):
We typically use containers where the recycling can be mixed - at events, in the FPH kitchen, or in rentals.
More than one well-intentioned person has suggested we have separate bins at each location, instead of separating when taking to the garage. I usually laugh!
We have at least 10 separate recycling types.
Each type of recycling needs to be taken to town to be put in a bin that is specifically for one recycling item. Often, we go to more than one drop-off location for different recycling things - aluminum scrap at this place, plastic at another place, jars and containers with lids at the Good Food Store, plastic bags at Target or Rosauers, glass now goes to Washington State.
And if the items aren't clean enough, separated correctly, lids taken off, etc. we run the risk of losing that recycling option. It has happened and is why we no longer have any glass recycling nearby.
Some days, I wish we could be like a park that says, "you pack it in, you pack it out!" But most people aren't wired that way or are completely unaware of how to reduce or separate their waste. So we get to play with their garbage after they leave.
I have never been to Wheaton Labs, so obviously this is more of a question than a true suggestion...a "food for thought" sort of thing, but if you must recycle out of state, what is the amount of metal cans that you produce annually? If it is of significant volume, would it be feasible to use a rocket-stove to smelt the cans into something usable? That is the ultimate in "reuse" since it never leaves the premise, and is used for something in homesteading.
I am not the best at pattern making and casting, but have made a few projects by smelting down metal. It is extremely gratifying. Yet for you, you could turn the entire process into a teaching point, all the while using the intense heat of a rocket-stove to show addional uses can be cleaned from them.
I can't find the thread this made me think of at the moment, but it was about smelting stuff with a rockety-type thing. What if a box mould were created with the intent of either sitting ontop of the heat riser of an RMH, or after the burn tunnel of a purpose-built rockety kiln and annealer, with the purpose of taking glass to be recycled, specifically perhaps broken glass that might not be recyclable in the conventional fashion, and encouraging it to slump (a low-temperature melt) into brick forms? The structural characteristics of the brick would need to be tested, but it might be a viable way to reuse glass.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
Location: Carnation, WA (Western Washington State / Cascadia / Pacific NW)
Jocelyn Campbell wrote:Good thoughts Travis and Chris - yes, we are considering smelting glass for use here. Paul is very interested in that! There is a thread about it somewhere I think.
There are metal recycling options nearby, some that will even pay for metal if you have enough. We generally don't go through enough metal cans here to make that worth it though.
For other types of metal, we do so much rocket mass heater, and appropriate technology building with metal and welding that most shop metal scrap we keep for projects.
Holy suffering goodness yes!!
I have a certain part of my barn dedicated to steel storage, and almost any weldable scrap piece gets put there...I never know when I need something bent this way or that, or even straight. I have always said that being a welder/machinist is a curse because there is nothing that I cannot make, it is just that sometimes spending the time to do it just does not make sense.
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