Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tri-County Hazardous Waste & Recycling Program has a job opening
for a Solid Waste Specialist.  It is a non-rep job, full time and starting pay is $3002.37 to $3154.30.
For more information, please check Wasco County's website:




   David S. Skakel, Coordinator

     419 E 7th, The Dalles, Oregon 97058

       work: 541-506-2632

       cell:    541-806-4387

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It all boils down to money....

Earlier this year, Alameda County (occupying the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay area) passed the nation's first-ever drug-take-back legislation which would make manufacturers responsible for the cost of collecting and disposing of left-over pharmaceuticals. The Alameda County legislation prohibits manfacturers from passing their disposal costs on to consumers.

MercuryNews reported that on Friday (December 7), the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the Generic Pharmaceutical Association filed a lawsuit against Alameda County in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The county has been anticpating this course of action, and just waiting for it to come. In 2011, the three allies staunchly blocked attempts in multiple states to launch drug take back programs. The pharmaceutical industry maintains that the most appropriate means of disposal is down the toilet, in the trash, or in drop boxes (of which there are very few across the entire U.S.).

The lawsuit boils down to money. The lawsuit states that,"The [Alameda County] ordinance favors local interests by deliberately shifting costs away from local consumers and taxpayers and onto drug manufacturers and pharmaceutical consumers nationwide." The industry argues that consumers and local government entities (and law enforcement agencies) should shoulder the burden for disposal of medications.

In an interview with the New York Times, Nathan A. Miley, the president of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and the champion of the legislation, said, “It’s just unfortunate that PhRMA would fight this because it would be pennies for them.”

Proponents of product stewardship for pharmaceuticals have long battled the lobbying power that the deep pockets of the pharmaceutical industry brings to the table. In 2009, revenues for the top 10 pharmaceutical companies topped $330 billion, according to a July 2010 report by Internal Trade Association Office of Health & Consumer Goods.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Trash to Treasure: A repurposed and beautiful memory maker for your Christmas tree

I love looking at the ornaments on our Christmas tree. They all bring back such special memories. I found a great way to repurpose some "trash" AND add more memories to our Christmas tree this year, to bring family to our Christmas even when we cannot be with them over the holidays. You can do the same.

Metal or plastic lids from empty jars (rinsed and dried)
Old sheet music (check out your second hand store, or print some for free online)
Craft Glue
Photos of friends and family members
Pencil or pen

  1. Place the lid over your photograph. Center your image. Trace around the lid onto the photo.
  2. Cut on the line you traced.
  3. Place a dot of glue on the back of the photo. Insert the photo down into the center of the lid.
  4. Place the lid on your sheet music. Trace a circle about .75-1" larger than the lid (the distance should be roughly double the depth of the lid rim).
  5. Cut out the circle of sheet music.
  6. Put glue on the top of the lid. Center the lid on the wrong side of the sheet music.
  7. Place a thin layer of glue around the exterior and interior rim of the lid. Fold the sheet music up and over to the inside of the lid.
  8. Cut a length of ribbon to fit the inside rim of the lid. Glue it in place.
  9. Cut a 5-6" length of ribbon. Glue the two ends to the back of the lid to form a loop. Allow to dry completely before hanging on your tree.

Friday, November 30, 2012

How to make reusable fabric gift bags

Earlier this week, I shared that most wrapping papers are not recyclable, due to the poor quality of the paper fibers.  I know that no matter how simple we try to make Christmas, there is still a pile of wrapping paper in the garbage by the end of the giving season. The same is true of birthday parties for my kiddos.
What if you had NO wrapping paper to throw away? Wouldn't that be refreshing?! Well, that is a fairly easy goal to achieve! Just make your OWN gift bags, and share them with family and friends, as well. It's simple. And even more inexpensive if you shop the clearance racks at the fabric store Here's how to make a gift bag:
1.            Purchase and prepare your supplies for a large drawstring bag. You will need 1/2 yard of sturdy cotton fabric with thread to match. Also, purchase 3 yards of matching cord or ribbon. Wash your fabric through a medium heat cycle in the washing machine and then dry it on medium; this will allow for shrinkage before you start your project.
o      Don’t want to purchase fabric? Old cotton dress shirts, kitchen towels, cloth napkins, and solid-colored t-shirts also make a great fabric stock for a gift bag.
2.            Cut your fabric. You will need two pieces of fabric, cut to the same dimensions. If you want a medium-size bag, cut two rectangles 13 inches wide and 17 inches long.
3.            Pin the two sides and bottom of the drawstring bag fabric, right sides facing together. Leave a 1 1/4-inch open area at the top of each seam on both sides of the bag. Sew over the pinned area with a 1/2-inch seam.
4.            Press the seams open with a steam iron, if you want. Or, zig zag over them to prevent fraying.
5.            Press 1/4 inch under on both top sides. Press another 1 inch under, also. Pin both sides in place.
6.            Sew both top areas over the pins, close to the inside fold. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each side for extra strength. This will form two tubes that will hold the cord (draw string).
7.            Cut the purchased cord in half. Each half should measure 1 1/2 feet. Attach a large safety pin to one end of a cord piece. Use the safety pin to guide the cord through one side of the fabric tube. Even out the cord and tie them together over the top of the drawstring bag. Repeat with the opposite side. Open right sides out. Insert your gift!
8.            Option 2 for the closure: Don’t want to sew in a cord? At step 5, Press 1/4 inch under on both top sides. Press another 1 inch under, also. Pin both sides in place. Stitch close to the lower fold all the way around the top.
o      Open the bag right sides out. Tack a ribbon or cord at its center point to the side seam. Insert gift. Tie the bag closed.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Celebrate the season without "trashing" your home

The holidays are such a great time to share laughter, encouragement, and love with family and friends. Chances are your calendar is already filling up with get-togethers for the holiday season. In addition to our increased socializing, our waste increases over the holiday season as well. According to the EPA, the volume of household waste in the United States generally increases 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day – about 1 million extra tons.

So, while you are still in the early planning stages, consider these simple tips to help you celebrate the season without “trashing” your home and your budget.
1.      Nix the cheap wrapping paper. While the bright colors are pretty, it’s not a very economical or environmentally sound choice. Most wrapping papers are not recyclable curbside, due to the poor quality of the fiber used to make the paper. Instead, create your own wrappings!
a.      Buy a roll or two of brown “shipping” paper. Use markers or paints and stencils to decorate the wrap. Make bows out of fabric or sturdy ribbon, which can be used year to year.
b.      Make fabric gift bags.  These bags are simple and can be used over and over from year to year.

2.      Avoid paper plates and plastic utensils. Pull out your good dishes. No matter how small or simple the gathering, bringing out the good dishes always makes the event feel a bit more festive. Remember, paper plates and plastic utensils are not recyclable.

3.      Be thoughtful in your gift giving. Rather than buying more “stuff” with more packaging, think about experience gifts, such as tickets to a play or museum, a gift certificate for a massage, a certificate to a locally owned restaurant, even a certificate for free babysitting. We don’t often purchase such gifts for ourselves, so the thought will be appreciated.

4.      Plan your menu around what is available locally. Cook only for the amount you will be serving. Package up leftovers and send them home with your guests. Or, freeze your leftovers and save them for another meal.
For more tips and tidbits to live simply and economically, visit our facebook page at www.facebook.com/TriCountyRecycle.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Show a little kindness to your waste hauler

Our hot sultry days of summer are gone. But that doesn't mean our waste stops smelling after it has been sitting for a couple of days. Whew! What a stink that garbage can is at times. My recycling too.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to get up really early to meet some of our local drivers and haulers at The Dalles Disposal. What a funny, hard-working group of men! They have a TOUGH job -- hoisting containers of yard debris, garbage, and boxes into the back end of a truck for hours on end, in the heat and the rain and even the frigid snow of our Gorge winters. Thankyou, gents! I read a report recently that rated Waste Haulers as one of the most hazardous jobs. Imagine it -- you are out in the street, sometimes having to dodge cars, lifting heavy objects, working around compacting and moving machinery, dealing with sometimes hazardous materials that people put in their garbage (needles, chemicals, paint, glass, jagged metal objects). Yikes.

So, let's all focus on what we can do to make their jobs a little safer and a little less stinky.
1) Make sure you separate your recycling and garbage correctly. Keep glass in a separate bucket or box. Break down corrugated cardboard and put it next to or under your recycle bins. If recyclable items go in with your trash, the haulers are not going to separate them out. Its not safe for them.

2) Don't put soiled cardboard or paper in your recycling, for example a greasy, cheese stained pizza box. They should go in the trash. Soiled cardboard and paper are the worst offenders. They will have to be pulled out at the sorting facility to avoid contaminating a load of recycled paper. The recycling process for pulping paper cannot remove the contamination of whatever food has saturated the paper goods.

3) Sharps (needles) ONLY go in a specific sharps container. They cost less than $10 usually, and are available at most pharmacies, or The Dalles Disposal or Hood River Garbage. Filled sharps containers can be taken to the office at The Dalles Disposal or Hood River Garbage between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Don't cause your hauler the panic of being stuck by a needle in your trash or recycling, and the medical hassle they have to go if this occurs.

4) Get rid of as much stink as possible. In order to make life easier on us, the consumer, we have been told as of late that you don't have to rinse your recyclables. Just put them in your recycling bin. But, think about the odor that builds after several days in your recycling bin. Now multiply that times the hundreds of homes and businesses that your haulers service every week.  That's a lot of stink to put up with! Want to make your recycling hauler happier? Go ahead and rinse all of your containers. Imagine the smell from recycling from hundreds and thousands of households, sitting for days, attracting flies and vermin. Yuck. So, give some love to your hard-working hauler, and go ahead and rinse, even though you don’t have to.

5) No hazardous materials in your garbage. I've heard horrid stories over the past couple of years about the dangers haulers face -- shotgun shells exploding in the truck as it is compacting a load, paint cans exploding and leaving paint all over the truck, the hauler, and the street; mini-propane tanks exploding; haulers inhaling fertilizer as they dump a garbage can that has a bag of fertilizer in the bottom. Risky business. Keep them safe. Take all of your hazardous materials to a hazardous waste collection event, held once a quarter in Hood River and The Dalles (November, February, May, and August), or once a year in outerlying communities.

6) Keep it light. Don't overload your can with heavy, soggy materials. Don't leave your can open to collect rain or water from your sprinklers. Your haulers are still lifting the cans into the backs of the garbage trucks, and usually on their own. We do not yet have automated trucks in the Gorge. So, be mindful of their backs and yours. Don't overload your can.

Next time you see your hauler, you might consider telling them, "Thank you!" Theirs is a dangerous, dirty, and often thankless job. So, let's show them a little love.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hallelujah! A solution for all those candy wrappers that will pile up next week!

How many of you dread the candy pile from Halloween? Our little community has some great events for the kids, and the businesses and community are so generous. Which is great.... But we end up with sooo much candy at our house, which means lots and lots of little plastic and waxy wrappers in the garbage for weeks on end.

Yesterday, I had the great opportunity to sit at lunch with Albe Zakes, Vice-President of Media Relations for Terracyle, Inc. Much to my joy, I discovered that Terracycle has a solution for all of those candy wrappers.

For those of you who have never heard of Terracycle, they offer a number of collection programs for hard to recycle items, like candy wrappers, juice pouches, permanent markers, and the list goes on. Each of these collection categories has a "Brigade," which you as a recycler can sign up for. (A word of caution and patience, some of these brigades are currently full, but you will be notified when they have an opening.) You collect these items from friends, family, schools, your community organizations, co-workers, and then package them up and send them to Terracycle. Terracycle then in turns gives $.02 per piece to your favorite non-profit group (or you can choose one from their list). They then take those candy wrappers, for instance, and upcycle them into something else, like plastic benches.

Isn't that ingenious? I was inspired by the creativity that evolved into Terracycle. The company started out with one freshman at Princeton University who made fertilizer from worm castings, put it in empty pop bottles, and sold it. If you want a funny and inspiring story, check Terracycle out. Go to Terracycle.com for the story.

If you are not able to get into a bridgade right now, you can still start "stock-piling" your materials. Or, if you would rather, contact TriCounty Hazardous Waste & Recycling at 541-506-2636. We can connect you with a Brigade leader in The Dalles who is collecting numerous materials to benefit Colonel Wright Elementary School.

Happy recycling!