From a little church in a little town that collects bottles and cans to raise money for an “ark” of livestock to help farmers to a big state-wide agency that produces videos, games and other materials to encourage recycling, Connecticut is serious about the environment. Most towns have some recycling programs – but a few take it several steps beyond the basics, as they collect used electronics, mulch lawn waste and accept used motor oil which is then sent to a recycler. Read on for some of Connecticut’s best recycling programs.
Town of North Canaan Transfer Station
“Recycling saves tax dollars,” says the sign at the entrance to the Transfer Station in the Town of North Canaan, and fiscal responsibility is a hallmark of this old town, which calls itself the “Gateway to the Berkshires.” North Canaan is quite literally on the state line with Massachusetts. The largest of the small towns in the northwest corner, it has an aggressive recycling program, and one that just changed from multi- to “single-stream” recycling. Most of this is conducted at the Transfer Station, to which residents may obtain access for a mere $25 per year per household.
The town Transfer Station has a giant crusher to compress the plastic, paper, cardboard, cans and bottles that residents can bring to the station and dump into the big bin five days a week. There is also a covered container where computers, televisions, office equipment and other electronics can be brought and dropped off, and at no additional charge. When the container is full, it is shipped to a facility where recyclable materials are removed and parts deemed hazardous waste are disposed of properly. There is also a place for used batteries and another for cell phones. Huge dumpsters the size of railroad cars are also present where residents can dump “bulky waste” (i.e. non-recyclable trash such as old furniture) and garbage.
The Transfer Station also accepts brush and leaves for the town chipper, which makes mulch for use in the playing fields and other municipal properties.
Town of West Hartford Recycling Center
Just west of the state capital is the relatively affluent and proud town of West Hartford, and residents there take recycling seriously – and that includes recycling yard waste as well as household trash. By bringing yard waste directly to the “EnviroCycle” recycling center, residents have cut the processing costs per ton to the town in half. Leaves, brush and yard waste placed there rather than in refuse barrels is not only processed at the cheaper rate to the town, it is also processed for use in compost piles – from which residents may take up to six cubic yards per year.
West Hartford does have trash and recycling pickup services and has switched over to single-stream recycling for most household materials. Corrugated cardboard and scrap metal disposal are separate, as are car batteries and used motor oil and anti-freeze, which must be brought to the recycling center and logged in with the office attendant.
Green Monster e-Cycling
Disposing of, let alone recycling, electronics is not easy; many towns do not have places to drop off or process old computers, televisions, VCRs and office equipment. That is why Jose Galiatsatos founded Green Monster e-Cycling in West Hartford. From humble beginnings in his home garage, Galiatsatos has built up a company with a 20,000-square-foot processing center that helps home and business owners in Connecticut safely and properly dispose of their old electronics.
Galiatsatos estimates that the tonnage his company handles has tripled each year since it began in 2007. In addition to ensuring that “precious resources” are recycled, Galiatsatos’ firm separates the recyclable materials from the toxic, and ensures that those toxins are disposed of properly – and not just dumped in a landfill where they can poison the ground and water table.
United Church of Christ
The United Church of Christ in Cornwall is religious when it comes to recycling – no pun intended. From holding vesper services at a nearby landfill to collecting packing peanuts for redistribution, this church and its pastor get the congregation and the community involved in recycling. Then again, that is not hard to do in Cornwall, which regularly earns a high place on the Recycling Honor Roll published annually by the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The congregation sponsors annual neighborhood and roadside cleanup days, and this year, its youth group collected $5,000 worth of cans and bottles, the proceeds of which were used to purchase a “gift ark” of livestock that is used to help struggling families become self-sufficient farmers. The church is also committed to becoming a “green church” in every way, from energy and water use to recycling.
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, or DEEP, not only supports but aggressively promotes recycling programs all over the state. It produces newsletters, manuals and even videos for home, corporate and school use, and even loans out traveling displays and games to schools, non-profit groups, businesses, towns and other organizations to help educate and inform the public about the benefits of recycling and how they can become involved. One of its most popular such items, and not just with kids, is the “Trash Detectives Game” where participants compete to score points by answering such questions as “could that item you put in the trash have a better use?”
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Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.