Each week Bedford residents pull out their recycling bins and fill them up with the #1 and #2 plastics and the glass bottles and jars they are throwing out. They bundle up their newspaper and cardboard into a brown paper bag and place everything out by the curb next to the regular garbage can for the private carters to take away.
But what else could Bedford residents be recycling, either at curbside or in other ways? Earth month is wrapping up, spring cleanup days are here; now is a good time to rethink our individual recycling habits. What recycling opportunities might you be missing?
All private carters in Bedford are required to pick up recycling, said Kevin Winn, Bedford’s Commissioner of Public Works, but recyclable materials can also be brought to the town’s Recycling Center at the Highway Department. The center is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you are ever confused as to what can recycled in Bedford, check out the town’s recycling page.
One thing Bedford’s Recycling Center takes that other town recycling centers might not is clothing, said Winn, “We have a bin for clothes collection.”
Many people do not realize that electronics can be recycled, although not through curbside pick-up, said Sarah Garvan, staff assistant for solid waster for Westchester County. “You can recycle electronics; anything with a plug. You have to bring it to a retailer who accepts them for recycling or to a special county Household Materials Recovery Day.” The county schedules Household Material Recovery Days in Northern Westchester on a regular basis, with a schedule posted online.
Whether paint can be recycled can be confusing. Empty paint cans can be put out with regular garbage, said Winn. Partly full cans of latex paint can be put out with the garbage after it is hardened up by adding kitty litter or adding a commercial agent that hardens the paint, he said. Partial cans of oil-based paints must be brought to a county Household Material Recovery Day, he added.
Unused pharmaceutical products, either prescription or over-the-counter drugs, should be recycled during a Material Recover Day also, Garvan said. This is a better alternative to either putting them into the regular garbage or flushing them down the toilet.
Rechargeable batteries can be brought to a Radio Shack store or any other battery retailer, Garvan added.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs should not be put out with regular waste, but can also be brought to retailers such as Home Depot and Lowes, she said. These light bulbs should not be thrown into the regular trash because they contain a small amount of mercury, she said.
Reuse is another form of recycling, Garvan added. Any used but still useable item can be donated to the Salvation Army or Goodwill, she noted. In addition,
Westchester County runs a webpage called Treasure Hunt, where residents can list items that they are willing to give away or search for items that they might need.
Starting June 1, Westchester County will require all municipalities to collect plastic containers coded three through seven for recycling—that means all those shampoo bottles, yogurt cups and pill bottles you’ve hoarded to avoid throwing out—paper clip holders, maybe?—can finally be disposed of in a sustainable way!
Much of Westchester County’s recycled materials are brought to the Material Recovery Facility in Yonkers. In 2009, the county recycled 61% of all solid waste, up from 46% in 2008. Westchester sells many of these materials, generating income that helps keep garbage-handling costs down and keeps the county from needing a landfill for its garbage. However, where recyclables are taken that are picked up by the private carters who operate in Bedford varies, Winn said. “We don’t track that.”
One type of plastic that cannot be put into recycling bins is plastic bags. You can either refuse them by using your own reusable bags, reuse them, or take them back to the stores. But if you are into crafts, all those plastic bags can be cut into strips and used to knit, weave, or crochet bags and doormats. Now that is recycling!