To reduce the ‘fill’ in landfills, recall the 3 R’s: Recycle, reuse, restore

If the goal is to reduce as much “fill” as possible going to and ending up in the landfill, I believe I have been doing an okay job. I say okay, because there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that I could be doing better.

The grand prize in this regard has to go to the late Art Beal of Cambria, California, over on the coast who built his abode out of anything and everything he could find, it seems. No wonder this truly resourceful human being’s nickname was none other than Der Tinkerpaw.

It’s quite fitting. Hub caps, beer cans, abalone shells, you name it went into the construction of Beal’s hillside home. I used the word “resourceful.” The man was that and then some.

If Beal’s example serves as the gold standard, what I’m doing in and around my home, I hope it could at least earn the bronze.

When it comes to saving and reusing parts, particularly those once attached to mechanical implements like the no-longer-used and now-in-pieces lawn edger I own or the way past their prime (out-of-date) computers which, like the edger, had seen better days, I do a fairly respectable job. Given enough time and with careful or serious consideration (take your pick), I will find a suitable use – or should I say “reuse” – for this stuff or hardware, if you prefer.

This all should be prefaced by disclosing that what doesn’t emerge from the ground, what is fabricated, manufactured or produced, in other words, as for the items I purchase, the parts which are destined for discarding, one of two things happen: it’s either gray (trash) bin or blue (recycle) bin directed. While the gray bin contents via trash pickup end up in the local landfill, the blue container contents (in this case, glass, metal, paper and plastic) via a different truck, goes to a yard where recyclable waste is gathered, sorted and is further processed.

Montgomery County, Maryland, Municipal recycling facility

On the other hand, for the most part, if it’s something that grew from the ground, for the parts of this that get thrown away, if such material can then be turned into compost, well, that is destined, directed for the green-waste bin or green waste-bin (here, again, take your pick).

So, getting back to finding a use for the hardware I hang on to, take, for example, the electronic equipment rack handles (brushed aluminum with a black anodized coating – a total of two): one went on the microwave oven door; the other one attached to the dryer door. These supplanted the manufacturer-applied plastic handles that each of these appliances came with, that eventually broke.

Not just this, but on the dryer also, the independent plastic knobs that enable the dryer to be started and control respective drying temperatures (4 separate settings) broke as well. So, to remedy, I jury-rigged a fix using spare brushed aluminum knobs that I had acquired from my earlier days of being a home audio appliance technician, that I modified slightly to fit (the center holes were drilled slightly larger), and now suffice just fine. They may not look the same as the originals, but they definitely do the trick. All repairs saved me money from my not having had to reorder original equipment manufacturer parts or, worst case, buy all new appliances.

Moving to outside the home, some 25 years ago when I first moved in, except for the patio area and the concrete walkway on the home’s south side, the entire back yard was covered in a carpet of grass. Over that time span, doing an almost complete redo, the grass back there is now nearly all but non-existent. Instead there is a deck, a bench with bench-back, two plant ladders (one moveable, the other permanent), and myriad shrubs, trees and flower pots.

Incidentally, the wooden fence along the border of the back yard separating my yard from that of the neighbor’s, is a goner. The portion of the fence posts that are buried in the ground, are mostly-to-completely rotted through and need replacing. When that time comes, perhaps I’ll find a use for the portions above the ground surface that are still in pretty good condition, all so they do not have to be thrown away.

In the front yard, meanwhile, I am hoping to do a makeover there as well.

Most if not all of the above has been done in an attempt to minimize the amount of waste I send to the dump, because what I don’t send there can in no way add to whatever is there that prompts the creation of methane releases which landfills are notorious for having or so it seems.

Should there be a doubt, focusing on the 3 R’s: recycle, reuse, restore, is what this post is about.

Image above: Credit USEPA

– Alan Kandel