Beyond the Bin: Staying green when you’re feeling blue

Life on our planet certainly has changed over the last couple of months, but try looking at the bright side.

Here’s your chance to slow down and explore green alternatives that you never had time to think about (much less do) when the world was a busier place.

Have you noticed your trash barrel getting heavier over these past few weeks? Do you seem to be throwing away more than you used to?

Many of us are cooking and eating at home much more than before. Chances are that extra weight in your barrel is mostly food waste, both scraps and leftovers. That’s to be expected, but there’s an easy green alternative.

A typical Newburyport family’s weekly trash output is as much as 50% (by weight) food waste (aka “organic waste” or just “organics”). The single most effective step any family can take toward a greener lifestyle is to eliminate that waste by composting their organics. There’s an easy way to do that!

Black Earth Compost’s weekly curbside pickup service costs $99.99 for a whole year. They supply a sturdy, pest-proof green rolling bin. All you need to do is to bin your organic waste separately from your household trash during the week, and roll the bin out to the curb on the designated evening for a dependable morning pickup.

Your organic refuse goes from being worthless trash to worth its weight in black gold once it is transformed into soil-enriching compost. Yet another bonus: Black Earth gives away a freebie bag of compost (and discounts, too) to all its customers.

It’s a win-win-win situation for the city (lower hauling fees), the environment (literally tons less garbage), and your family (an invaluable investment in living green). It’s an ongoing and deeply personal commitment that really makes a difference. Find information and details at www.blackearthcompost.com

Have you started (or been planning to start) a landscaping project? Do you have more materials than you need? Consider sharing your extras.

There’s a lot of “do-it-yourselfing” going on right now, and your leftover bricks, landscaping stones, mulch, planting containers, or you name it may be just what someone else is looking for to begin or complete their own project.

The local Newburyport Nextdoor online forum has a category specifically for items for sale or free. Join up and take advantage of the chance to share. (You can also make posts about what you’re looking for.)

Freecycle Newburyport is another online resource for sharing (or seeking) just about anything. To join, email freecyclenewburyport-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. As Mae West famously said, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.” Not so if it’s two yards of unneeded stone dust taking up your driveway. 

There’s another thing we can share, and that’s our knowledge and expertise. Our social climate has changed, and we can’t spontaneously chat, visit or lend a hand the way we used to. There’s an app for that!

Newburyport Nextdoor is a great online resource for posting your questions (and advice) about gardening, recycling, creative pursuits, and every aspect of living in Newburyport. Newburyporters are a welcoming, talented and generous bunch, and you’re likely to make new friends along with learning something new.

Take this unique time to go a little greener at home. Make a new commitment, even if it’s a small one. They say every cloud has a silver lining. Well, maybe this one is green.

Next up: Composting and organic gardening at home 

For additional information on all aspects of recycling in Newburyport: www.cityofnewburyport.com (click on “Recycling, Energy & Sustainability Department”) or call the recycling office at 978-499-0413.

Nancy Roeder is a member of the Toward Zero Waste Newburyport Committee. Her family’s household trash averages less than 2 pounds a week.

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