The operations manager gives a tour of the facility during the 2011 Earth Day Open House.
The Mariposa Public Works Solid Waste Division is continually trying to provide more opportunities for residents and businesses to recycle and to learn new ways to reduce their waste. Less waste benefits the County, as a whole, by increasing the life of the landfill, and residents individually by reducing the amount of money they spend on disposal fees.
We would like to do more, but are limited by our budget, which is based solely on income derived from disposal fees, the sale of recyclables and grants. As with any commodity, the price paid for recyclables varies with the market. Income from disposal fees fluctuates depending on the season. And, there are usually explicit restrictions on how grant money is spent.
Nevertheless, we have some great programs in place and more in the works, from Bin Buddies collection sites around the County and special events bins for free checkout to bins in motels and hotels and paper recycling in County offices.
You may have seen the “Got Your Bags” reminder stenciled in parking lots in town. That was the result of a partnership with the School District. Students painted the logo using a stencil created by our staff as a community service learning project. The design was later trademarked by the Keep California Beautiful organization and duplicated on buttons, window decals and stencils for use by cities and towns throughout the state. (Visit www.keepcaliforniabeautiful.org for more information.)
We have a small lending library for use by local educators and organizations that includes DVDs and books for all ages about solid waste, recycling and making crafts from used materials. Worm composters are also available for loan to educators who would like their students to have a hands-on learning experience but do not want to make a long-term commitment to maintaining worm bins. A complete list of materials you can check out is posted under “Karen’s Corner.” The website is loaded with other information, as well, from our hours of operation and news of upcoming events to details about what you can and can’t recycle to tips for reducing your waste.
Free tours of the compost facility and recycling center provide an up close and personal look of what happens to your waste after you empty the trash can or recycling bin. Tours are available year-round to schools and other groups and once a month during the summer to individuals.
Although we will not be holding an Earth Day open house this year, plans are underway to recognize this internationally celebrated day of environmental good deeds and education. As a result of talking with participants at last year’s open house, we decided to partner with the SPCA to hold a recycled craft fair in October. There was such a positive response, we plan to hold it again this year, date TBA.
I have had the privilege of meeting many of you at the County Fair and other events where we have set up informational booths and given away hundreds of oil buckets, rags, funnels and other handy tools for recycling used motor oil, as well as recycled, reusable shopping bags and other useful items. Kids decorated more than 500 tops made from used CDs, bottle caps and marbles at the 2011 fair and at least that many wands made from old magazines and videotape in 2010. (The wand instructions are on our website.)
If you haven’t stopped at our fair booth in the past—or even if you have—come by, spin the wheel and answer a recycling question to win a prize. (You don’t have to get the answer right to win.) It’s also a good time to ask our staff any questions you might have about solid waste management.
A favorite part of my job is the time I have spent sharing information about waste reduction and recycling with people of all ages during presentations at meetings, workshops, in-school and after-school programs, library story hours and other community get-togethers. It was especially rewarding when Mariposa Safe Families chose recycling as the theme for their 2009 Safe at Home event.
I hope you will take advantage of some of the educational materials and programs we offer. Feel free to ask questions either through this column or by calling the landfill at 209-966-5165.