By Carson Gerber
Tribune staff writer
Is the warm weather inspiring you to spruce up around the house? Clean out the garage? Trim up the yard?
Now that it’s actually starting to feel like spring, you might be getting the spring-cleaning itch.
But before you start hauling boxes of junk, piled-up trash or mounds of yard clippings to the curb — stop. Chances are the majority of the trash you’d be sending to the landfill could be easily reused or recycled for free.
“Everything is pretty much recyclable in one way or another,” said Tracy Johnston, recycling coordinator for the Howard County Recycling District. “If you’re doing some spring cleaning, go into it with the mindset that if you don’t have to throw it away, then don’t throw it away. Recycle it. You’ll be doing your community a service.”
And so far, a lot of city and county residents have taken Johnston’s advice. Director Mikki Jeffers said the recycling center has been swamped this week.
“Holy mackerel,” she said. “It’s been crazy. But that’s fine. It’s what we want.”
So if you’re scratching that spring-cleaning itch this week, here’s a breakdown of how to put your junk to better use than simply taking up space in a dump.
You’ve mowed the grass, cleaned up the flower bed, trimmed the bushes and picked up all the fallen tree limbs from your yard. Now what do you do with it all?
Take it to the Yard Waste Center located at 1130 S. Dixon Road. The center is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays from now until Nov. 30. Make sure you stop by the office for an inspection and find out where to dump the materials. You must live in Howard County or own property in the county. Bring a current tax bill or utility bill to prove residency, and the name on your driver’s license must match the name on the bill.
Only raw materials will be accepted. No building materials, treated materials, sod, cement, gravel, sand, dirt, hay, straw, seeds, pods or nuts are allowed.
Residents will be charged a fee to dump.
But you don’t have to make a trip to the center to put your clippings to good use. You can always start a compost pile and use the material on your garden or flowers.
The recycling center suggests mixing raw organic matter, soil and fertilizer together in a pile where it will not be offensive to anyone.
Spread a 6- to 8-inch layer of organic matter over the area and place the coarsest material on the bottom, and moisten the layer with water.
Sprinkle garden fertilizer or manure over the layer of organic matter, then spread a layer of soil 1 to 2 inches thick on top. Continue to alternate the organic materials, fertilizers and soil until the heap is 3 to 5 feet high. Do not pack the heap, because air will not run through it.
Water each layer as it is added to the pile, and turn the pile once every two to four weeks.
The compost will be done in about six months when it’s dark, crumbly and has an earthy smell.
Johnston said whether you take your yard waste to the center or decide to start a compost pile, it’s better than putting it on the curb.
odds and ends
If you want to get rid of that old microwave or TV, the recycling center located at 4102 Cartwright Dr. accepts most small appliances and electronics like DVD players, cell phone and computer equipment at no cost.
But don’t bring anything that contains freon such as refrigerators or air conditioners. Take those to local scrap-metal yards like Omnisource, Newlon Metals or Hunt Salvage. They’ll remove the toxic chemicals and pay you for the metal.
Those businesses would also be happy to take that old clunker from your driveway for scrap metal.
If your appliances or electronics are still in good working condition, you might consider dropping them off at Goodwill or the Salvation Army along with those boxes of old clothes, knick-knacks and books.
Michael Adams, team leader at the Kokomo Goodwill, encourages people to keep nonprofit thrift stores in mind while cleaning out their closets and garages this spring.
“There’s not a whole lot you should throw away, because someone else can benefit from that stuff you don’t need anymore,” he said. “It’s worth your time to stop by and donate. You’d be helping the community.”
Other items such as plastic bags and compact fluorescent light bulbs can be recycled at Lowe’s Home Improvement or Best Buy. Call Lowe’s at 765-453-1000 or Best Buy at 888-229-3770 for more information.
And don’t forget to properly dispose of unused cleaning supplies or old motor oil. The recycling center will take just about any hazardous waste, including things like paint, lead or insecticides. In fact, most homes in Howard County contain three to 10 gallons of these hazardous products, according the center’s website.
Make sure you stop in at front office and check in with the desk to fill out your paperwork at the time you drop off your materials. Have a question about disposing of a material? Call the recycling center at 765-456-2274.
In the end, Recycling Director Jeffers said taking a few extra minutes while sprucing up the house to see if your trash or junk could be reused or recycled isn’t just good for the community — it’s an easy, positive way to keep the planet healthy.
“We should all start looking at our household items a little bit differently,” she said. “It breaks my heart when I see boxes and trash hanging out of waste bins. By recycling, it’s going to help us reduce our carbon footprint.”
Household recyclables, such as paper, cardboard, metal cans and bottles, glass and plastic can be dropped off at area recycling centers. Go to http://bit.ly/14KeAQe for locations.
Carson Gerber is a Kokomo Tribune reporter. He may be reached at 765-854-6739, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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