Thursday, September 24, 2009

Public recycling

At home, we recycle everything - cans, bottles, cardboard, paper, glass, and plastic. Anything that's fresh and organic (minus grease, meat, and bones) is composted. So when traveling, and in this case, attending a green industry conference (Garden Writers Association), I'd like to be able to recycle, too. Sometimes my car is like a mobile recycling center, bringing home plastic soda bottles, paper, etc.

To their credit, the Raleigh Convention Center recycles cans, bottles, and plastic, as did the Sarah P. Duke Gardens at a lovely reception this evening. The Convention Center has slots for newspapers, too.

But what about my banana peels and apple cores? And the waste (paper plates, uneaten food, napkins, etc) from our lunch today on the exhibit floor? And all the extra paper stuff and packaging of materials that exhibitors push on us.

Nice to have much of it (thanks especially to North Creek Nurseries and American Beauties for the cool Vernonia 'Iron Butterfly,' Lonicera sempervirens 'Major Wheeler', and Hibiscus moscheutos 'Torchy'), Renee's Garden, Ferry-Morse, and Baker's Creek for wonderful seeds, but I definitely appreciate the All-America Rose Selections folks that give us our 'press packets' in a small jump drive -- after viewing and potentially using the info, we can reuse it as a portable drive (unlike the throwaway CD's).

And why are all of the plant giveaways packaged in cute plastic bags instead of compostable paper? We did get lots of giveaways in reusable totes, but they're the sort that last for a couple of weeks with anything heavy, not heavy-duty tote bags. I guess I miss the old canvas totes (at least they were biodegradable).

OK, maybe I should be happy with the recycling bins, which are quite impressive, actually, but I'm a cranky environmentalist. I want compost receptables, too!


  1. Public recycling is a growing movement but it needs a push in many cities and many venues.
    Thanks for mentioning the efforts you observed in Raleigh. With many new containers on the market (my favorite is the ClearStream Cleartainer) it's easier than ever to put trash receptacle and recycling container side by side.

    Composting food is a little harder to set up and maintain. First there needs to be a compost facility. Second the food vendors must adopt compostable utensils and non coated paper plates. Third, the public must be informed and monitored.

    I've run public recycling at outdoor art, music and garden events for about 20 years. There is a lot of educational work needed to convince everyone that recycling is "worth it" but it has improved a lot in recent years. I'm still amazed at the number of aluminum cans I can pick from the trash cans when there is a well marked recycling container right beside the trash can.

    Your comments in your blog help raise public awareness that public recycling is the right thing to support. Keep up the good work!

  2. Lisa, I hear you! Who knows what health department rules get in the way of composting at public venues.

    I am hoping this has changed but the last time I stopped by our local Botanical Garden they weren't composting. A botanical garden that didn't offensive. I need to call them to see if this is still true!

    The vendor gifts sound wonderful. I'm imagining folks trying to get them home on the planes.


  3. A botanical garden that doesn't compost is downright silly!

    I should have mentioned in my first post that I've done recycling and composting at public events with support from employees of my business, Rings & Things. At a major local art show my staff and community volunteers circulate checking bins to pull the "good stuff" from the trash. At a garden club meeting I brought 5gal pails for compost when we had a 6 watermelons to share. At Rings & Things office we have compost bucket in breakroom. I take it home once a week to add to my active piles.

    Public event recycling, business composting, public garden and park composting is not hard to set up and maintain, but it does take commitment.

  4. Russ,
    I'm glad to hear about your efforts, and I'm going home to try to encourage our community businesses to add recycling to their mix (my small city has curbside recycling, but the commercial waste disposal folks who service the food businesses apparently don't.)

    Over 20 years ago, I remember talking to a college class about how aluminum can recycling was energy-efficient, yada, yada. We're kind of slow to get with the program.

    And I'll look into the ClearStream Cleartainer, too. Sounds excellent.

    Another concern to me is all the paper stuff that we generate at these meetings.

    I've got a whole bagful of paper that I didn't ask for, as well as paperboard from various small packaging things that I've consumed (containing the coffee extras in the room, for example). I'd recycle this stuff at home, so why not while traveling. At least at this meeting, I drove, so I'm able to take things home to recycle.

    I've brought along my stainless steel coffee cup, too, although I've been glad to see that the convention center is using ceramic cups, etc. And Panera Bread, the caterer for our breakfast this morning, minimized waste with paper packaging of breakfast 'sandwiches' although I think there were plastic plates for the pastries.

    But, this evening, the barbeque dinner was on divided plastic plates with plastic water and drink cups.


I enjoy hearing from fellow nature lovers and gardeners. Let me know your thoughts.

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