After moving to Ardenwoods seven years ago, Elaine Marten noticed a need to improve recycling practices in her new community.
A former chemist and volunteer with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Elaine is passionate about reducing her carbon footprint and encouraging others to do the same.
“At Ardenwoods, we have the typical bin for mixed, recycled materials,” she explained. “But I noticed that it was being badly contaminated with trash that should not have been deposited there. I wanted to help get us moving in the right direction and get all contaminants out of our recycling stream.”
Rather than waiting for change to happen on its own, Elaine took matters into her own hands — quite literally — not only spreading awareness of local recycling capabilities throughout the community, but also sifting through the community’s bins herself to filter out trash and other nonrecyclable items. She and other like-minded residents also led the initiative to hang informative posters in the community’s recycling rooms and distribute educational pamphlets to residents upon move-in.
“Our goals are to save and direct as many recyclable materials as possible toward the proper destinations, so that they will be converted back into usable raw materials,” Elaine explained. “Part of that work can be pretty grubby, pretty down and dirty. And the other part is to educate our resident population on what materials should be placed in that bin and in what condition and what should be excluded and discarded as trash.”
Last week, Earth Day celebrations brought attention to many important environmental issues, recycling included — but it’s important to remember proper waste disposal practices all year long.
“To me, preserving and extending the integrity of our planet is what Earth Day is all about,” and each of us has a responsibility to do our own part toward that goal, Elaine said. “Wise and efficient use of natural resources minimizes the amount of earthly disfiguration that has to go into making some of these materials — whether it’s our destructive mining industry or our energy-consuming efforts to produce plastics, refined metals, glasses, paper and other recyclables.
“Saving paper from the landfill means we are saving forests,” she continued, “and, to me, that’s a very worthwhile goal.”
What May I Recycle?
- Metal cans and empty aerosol cans (aluminum, steel or tin)
- Plastic bottles, jars and plastic food containers #1 through #7
- (Exception: black microwavable trays and styrofoam)
- Glass bottles and jars (clear, brown or green)
- Aluminum pie tins and food trays
- Milk and juice cartons
- Newspapers and inserts
- Corrugated cardboard
- Mixed paper:
- Catalogs, junk mail, magazines, egg cartons (paper), envelopes, manila envelopes, office paper, phone books, glossy paper, Post-It notes, cereal boxes, brown paper bags, paper towel rolls, shredded paper (place in paper bag with top rolled down), etc.
How To Prepare Recyclables
- Rinse all bottles and cans – lids and labels may remain on.
- Flatten plastic jugs and bottles
- Break down and flatten corrugated cardboard
What is NOT Recyclable?
- Aluminum foil
- Dishes or cookware
- Plastic wrap
- Window or mirror glass
- Plastic bags (please take these to Ingles, Walmart, Target, etc.)
- Drinking glasses
- Paper towels or tissue
- Black microwavable trays