How you manage waste and recyclables takes into account more than just what’s inside your home. It applies to your outdoor area as well.  Whether you’re planning a backyard barbecue or doing a bit of weeding and planting over the weekend, there are many things you can do to prevent or reduce waste from outdoor activities.

When Gardening –

  • Plastic plant pots can’t be recycled by your curbside recyclables collection program, but some retail locations may accept them, or you can reuse them or share them with a neighbor.
  • Mulch and potting soil bags don’t belong in your recycling bin either, but can be returned to retail locations that accept plastic shopping bags, as long as they are cleaned out.
  • Garden hoses are not recyclable and can pose a danger to collection and recycling facility workers – used garden hoses can be made into soaker hoses for gardening or must be discarded with household trash.

For Cookouts or Barbeques –

  • Remember to set out a recycling bin, preferably beside the trash can, and let your guests know which waste items should go in each. Perhaps a sign would be helpful!
  • When shopping for picnic supplies, be sure to purchase products that are reusable, compostable, or recyclable. Or even use real plates!
  • Drink Options:
    • Don’t use plastic cups.
  • Don’t serve bottled water. Instead, set up a big water jug with lots of ice for guests..
  • Buy recyclable cardboard cases of beverages rather than six packs. Those pesky six-pack plastic rings are not recyclable and can harm marine life if they’re released into the environment.
  • Choose beverages packaged in cans rather than plastic bottles. Although plastic is recyclable, only a fraction of the collected material ends up being reused, whereas aluminum is a very desirable, high value, and 100% recyclable material.
  • Gather up any glass containers and take them to your nearest Purple Can Club location. Locations can be found here: <link>
  • Avoid single use party decorations or balloons..
  • Consider composting your food waste. There are a number of ways, including backyard composting, delivering food waste to either of our two drop-off sites for food scraps (I-95 Landfill Complex and I-66 Transfer Station), or you can take them for recycling at selected Farmer’s Markets throughout the summer.

With just a little bit of planning you can celebrate the summer season in sustainable style, so have a happy summer with lots of fun in the sun, and look for more tips to come as fall approaches!

Cool Tips for Summer Waste Prevention on the Road!

Before you head out on that family vacation, consider these do’s and don’ts of summertime recycling.

DO’S

  • Do purchase products that are reusable, compostable, or recyclable.
    • Purchase items that can be used season after season.
    • Use reusable plates, napkins, cutlery, and cups or purchase ones that can be composted.
  • Do locate public recycling bins at beaches, parks, lakes, and other locations and make sure you follow the local recycling rules for using them.
    • Recycling is not the same everywhere – it varies from place to place and may differ where you live.
    • Make sure you check the government website of each place you visit to know how to recycle the right way in that location.
  • Do have a plan for properly disposing of your trash on hikes and walks.
  • Do keep a recycling container in your car for road trips.
    • Roadside stops may have recycling containers, but if they don’t you can take these valuable materials to the next location.
  • Do ask your hotel or motel about recycling – many hotels offer in-room recycling bins.

DON’T

  • Don’t place foam containers or coolers in recycling bins.
    • Ask if they can be returned to retail locations for recycling.
  • Don’t place plastic shopping bags in the recycling bin.
    • They may be able to be returned to retail locations (like grocery stores) for recycling.
  • Don’t recycle materials with food or liquid residue – place items in the recycling bin empty and dry.
  • Don’t place disposable cutlery, straws, plates, napkins, or paper towels in the recycling bin.
  • Don’t put beach chairs, floats, fireworks, batteries, or propane canisters in the recycling bin.
    • These items are dangerous and should be donated, reused, or safely disposed of, following the guidelines of the local programs.

Keep recycling and waste prevention on your mind while traveling for summer fun!  Following these simple recycling do’s and don’ts while travelling is easy, and you’ll feel good that you are contributing to the preservation of the environment no matter where you visit. 

How to Correctly Dispose of Your American Flag

Did you know the average outdoor flag lasts only about 90 days? Flying the stars and stripes outside your home is a great way to showcase pride in our county. But the ever-changing weather and the blasting rays of the sun will inevitably result in a worn-out flag.

It is against etiquette to fly one that is worn out. It is also disrespectful to simply throw the American flag out with the trash. So, what should you do with Old Glory after it is too tattered to represent our country?

Because it is important to regularly replace flags that are faded or torn, the United States has a set of laws pertaining to disposal known as the United States Flag Code, or “retiring the flag”.

There are four ways to respectfully retire an American flag:

Donate Tattered Flags

Donating is a great American flag disposal technique.  This provides a quick and easy solution for those who are busy and want to make sure their old flags are taken care of properly.

Where to Dispose of American Flags in Fairfax County:

  • Fairfax County Government Center – there is a flag disposal box in the main lobby near the information desk – 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax. Collected flags are retired properly by The American Legion.
  • I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex – Flag disposal boxes are located at the I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex and are available during residential hours. Collected flags are retired properly by The American Legion.
  • Fairfax County Police Stations – all Fairfax County Police Stations accept American flags. They are collected twice a year by Police Honor Guard for proper disposal.

https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news/index.php/where-properly-dispose-american-flags-fairfax-county

Burning

The US Flag Code states that if the flag is not in good enough condition to represent our country, it should be taken down and destroyed. The dignified manner they recommend is burning.  This is the manner of retiring the flag that is used in the military. This method is probably not something most of us would consider using. If you do choose to use this method, you must first check with your local Fire Marshall about what state and local fire codes and ordinances you must follow prior to burning a flag.

There are special steps that must be carried out when using this method of disposal, including folding the flag properly, saluting the flag and observing a moment of silence, or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance while the flag burns.

Flag Burial

You can bury a flag in the ground in a well-constructed container to keep it protected.  In the US Flag Code, it states the cloth should not come in contact with the ground or dirt.  Fold it properly and place it in the box. Take a moment of silence or respectfully say a few words as you bury the box.

Shredding

Shredding gives you multiple options to either burn, bury, or recycle the material once it is disassembled.  But you must do this in a proper and respectful manner, as with all American flag disposal options.

In the first technique, you must separate each of the white and red stripes. The other option is to cut the flag in half vertically, and then again horizontally. The most important step for both procedures is to make sure the blue section with the stars stays intact.

Shredding gives you multiple options to either burn, bury or recycle the material once it is disassembled. Flag recycling is common with synthetic, and nylon made flags because burning these materials can be hazardous.

Food Scrap Drop-off at Select Farmer’s Markets This Summer

Once again this summer there will be food scrap drop-offs at select Farmer’s Markets!

Wednesday – Mount Vernon Farmers Market
2501 Sherwood Hall Lane
Alexandria, VA, 22306

Thursday – Herndon Farmers Market
765 Lynn St.
Herndon, VA, 20170

Friday – Kingstowne Farmers Market
5844-5862 Kingstowne Center
Alexandria, VA, 22315

 

Saturday – Burke Farmers Market
5671 Roberts Parkway (VRE Parking Lot)
Burke, VA, 22015

Sunday – Freshfarm Farmers Market Mosaic District
2910 District Ave.
Fairfax, VA 22031

More information can be found on the county website at:

https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/publicworks/recycling-trash/food-scraps-composting-drop