The Environmental Coalition of the Pelhams (EcoPel), your local environmental organization, is focusing in 2015 on encouraging recycling in our community. Through education, outreach and lobbying, we hope to increase the rate of recycling among our villages’ businesses, schools, and homes.
The Pelhams can be proud to place among the communities with the highest household recycling rates in Westchester. Every properly recycled item reduces landfill costs and provides income for the county. We at EcoPel want to help build on that accomplishment by providing you with tips on how to improve your household recycling stream and to reduce overall waste:
- Never place recycling in plastic bags. There has been some confusion due to other communities’ acceptance of this practice (notably NYC), but plastic bags pollute the recycling stream and clog up the machines that sort our recycling. And we don’t need MORE plastic bags in our environment!
- Ensure that all recycling put out for curbside pick up is free of food residue. This is required by the recycling facility, and will reduce odor and attracting animals. Labels do not need to be removed from recyclables.
- Use large recycle bins with wheels and lids, available at most hardware stores. They are not cheap but they are a great investment and make recycling much easier to move to the curb, as well as keep it dry and contained on stormy nights, so that we don’t wake up on recycling day to see pieces of recycling strewn about our beautiful streets.
- Remove all styrofoam, bubble wrap, and other synthetic packaging materials from the paper and cardboard recycling. Styrofoam in all shapes and sizes, as well as inflated plastic bag inserts, cannot be recycled at our curbs. Styrofoam is particularly bad for the environment: it is very difficult to recycle (which is why it was recently banned in NYC) and it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces over the years, which pollute our waterways and sicken birds and marine life, much in the same way plastic does. You can take styrofoam packing peanuts and plastic bubble wrap to Mailboxes, Etc. or The UPS Store for recycling.
- Avoid single-use plastic bags – including shopping bags, dry cleaning bags, newspaper delivery bags, ziploc bags, plastic wrap, bread and produce bags – whenever possible. There are many alternatives to plastic available in local stores and dry cleaners, as well as on-line. We all accumulate a certain amount of single-use plastic bags and wrap, however. If not used to clean up after your dog, plastic bags should be dropped in recycling bins at our local grocery stores, CVS, and the big box stores nearby. Sometimes these stores put their on-site plastic bag recycling containers in a less-than-obvious location that requires a bit of searching or a query with a staffer. Please note that you cannot recycle plastic bags curbside.
- Compress cardboard milk and juice cartons as much as possible and throw them in the regular garbage as they are not recyclable curbside. We strongly urge Pelhamites to avoid milk and juice cartons with round plastic spouts whenever possible! Those nearly ubiquitous round plastic tops (the kind that are also found on plastic water bottles and plastic bottles of all kinds) are not recyclable and also not necessary for the functioning of the carton. Like styrofoam, they pollute our waterways and sicken birds and marine life.
For additional information, there is an excellent guide to recycling on the Westchester Government’s website:
Please remember to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.