Curbside collection of compost under way
The bins are here.
The about 900 Linden Hills residents who signed up to participate in the long-in-development compost pilot program began receiving the 65-gallon green, plastic bins on Sept. 8. Collection began Sept. 15.
According to a newsletter from Linden Hills Power and Light, the nonprofit that helped get the pilot program under way, people have marveled at the size of the bins. Put side-by-side with their regular 94-gallon garbage bins, that’s a lot of space taken up.
But the newsletter advised that compostable items actually make up a large majority of what people throw away. In other words, the compost bins should end up fuller than the trash bins. (People have the option of asking the city to downsize their regular garbage bins, a move that lowers monthly bills by $2.)
Some of the things people can now put in their compost bins are pizza boxes, paper towels, food scraps, coffee grounds, dryer lint and vacuum bags. Non-compostable items include plastic, broken glass, rubber, non-recyclable metal and ceramics. Milk cartons are compostable, while juice boxes — which are lined with foil — are not.
Contrary to past reports, yard waste also can’t be put into the compost bins. That’s something Susan Young, the director of the city’s Solid Waste and Recycling Division, is still working on.
She spearheaded the effort to get a state law changed so that yard waste could be put in the bins. Gov. Tim Pawlenty approved the change back in May, but as Young later discovered, the change only allowed the materials to be combined in a bin.
“I don’t have a place to put it down co-mingled,” she said.
Also, the county — which is looking at this program as a way to study the effectiveness of curbside compost pickup — wants to be able to compare what a program would be like with and without the yard waste combination, Young said.
The program’s arrival in Linden Hills has left some in the area scratching their heads over their trash. Power and Light’s Felicity Britton said she’s heard her fair share of questions from neighbors about what exactly they’re able to put in their new bins. Pet hair? Aerosol canisters? Latex condoms?
“They just need to get their heads around what’s organic or not,” Britton said.
She herself has changed her regular trashcan into a compost can, while she’s using a small box to collect whatever plastics or other non-compost she ends up with. It’s admittedly a bit of a lifestyle overhaul.
“I think this could change the way people buy things,” Britton said. At the grocery store, for example, will people choose plastic- and foam-wrapped meat or instead go for paper-wrapped meat?
For people who remain confused — and to get a chance to give feedback to Young — Power and Light is hosting a forum at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 above Wild Rumpus bookstore, 2720 W. 43rd St., No. 300.
Urban Earth Cooperative celebrates birthday No. 2
Urban Earth Cooperative, 910 W. 36th St., is set to celebrate its second anniversary and cap off a 41-day membership drive.
The co-op launched in Southwest as a business idea among neighbors and became the first of its kind in the city, a cooperatively owned floral and garden store that features mostly locally grown flowers and plants.
The store launched a membership drive Aug. 21 with the goal of recruiting 100 new members by the end of September.
“Our membership drive will help us raise the capital we need to expand our product line, offer more classes on rain harvesting and perennial planting, and upgrade our facilities to be more environmentally friendly,” manager Gay Noble said in a news release announcing the drive.
The co-op also is throwing a birthday celebration from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 28.
For more information, go to www.urbanearthcoop.org.
EPA sets restrictions on ‘surf and turf’ engines
Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set new restrictions on gas-powered machinery.
The regulations, which will take effect in 2010 and 2011, apply to engines used by such tools and vehicles as lawn mowers, weed trimmers and speedboats. These are the first national standards ever set for boats powered by inboard engines and carbon monoxide levels of gasoline-powered engines used in recreational watercraft.
“EPA’s new small-engine standards will allow Americans to cut air pollution as well as grass,” EPA administrator Stephen Johnson said in a news release.
The rule is expected to reduce emissions dramatically, as well as save 190 million gallons of gasoline each year, according to the release.
Gas-powered personal watercraft and inboard and outboard engines will have to comply in 2010. Lawn and garden equipment with engines of 25 horsepower or less will be affected starting in 2011.