Old Valentine’s Flowers Go in the Compost

flowers

Ready to toss your Valentine’s Day flowers? Don’t throw them away! Toss them in your compost instead.

When you put flowers and other yard waste and organic material in your compost, they’re used to create healthy new soil. Healthy soil plays a lot of important roles in our environment, including absorbing and filtering water, as well as transferring nutrients to new plant life.

Want to Keep Your Flowers Longer?

Take good care of the stems. First, give your flowers some type of sugar for nutrition. Put a little bit of sugar in the vase water, whether it’s the plant food packet that came with your flowers, a little granulated sugar from your cupboard, or some honey or maple syrup. Any amount between one teaspoon and two tablespoons will do. Second, change the water every other day, or anytime it begins to look cloudy, and trim the ends of the stems at the same time so they can continue to absorb the water and nutrients.

Dry or press your blooms. Keep the memory of a special day alive by preserving your bouquet. To dry flowers naturally, hang them upside down in a dark, dry spot, such as an attic or closet. You can also dry flowers by pressing them. Place the blooms between heavy books, such as dictionaries or encyclopedias, with a paper or cardboard lining to absorb moisture. Check the flowers’ progress once a week, and change the liner each time. Both drying and pressing flowers takes roughly 2-4 weeks. Find more tips for creating beautiful dried flowers — without using chemicals or creating extra waste — from Wellness Mama.

Buy potted flowers instead. Keep the Valentine’s Day vibe strong all year with a live plant. With proper care, not only can it brighten your home — and mood — for years, it can even clean the air for you. After all, what’s more romantic than watching your love grow?

National Battery Day: Did You Know It’s Dangerous to Throw Batteries Away?

batteries

Batteries: A standardized and portable source of power that can bring electricity anywhere you want to go. From starting your car in the morning to powering a flashlight during an unexpected power outage, their convenience is undeniable. However, batteries can also be very dangerous if not disposed of properly. Here is what you need to know.

Batteries, especially the lithium-ion rechargeable type that come in most portable electronics, pose a very serious fire risk when disposed of improperly. When batteries end up at a trash or recycling facility they often get punctured or crushed, which can damage the separation between the cathode and anode, causing them to catch fire or explode. Twice this fall, misplaced batteries have started fires at our Napa Recycling Facility. Luckily they were put out quickly, but these fires can have devastating consequences, such as the fire at San Mateo’s Materials Recovery Facility in 2016, which burned the entire plant to the ground. Batteries — and devices that contain them — need to be disposed of as e-waste or hazardous waste so they can be carefully handled to prevent these fires.

In addition to the fire danger, batteries can also contain toxic chemicals, including lithium, cadmium, sulfuric acid and lead. If disposed of improperly, these toxic chemicals can leach into the soil and contaminate the groundwater.

For these reasons, it is illegal to put batteries in the garbage or mix them in with the rest of your recycling. Luckily, recycling batteries is easy. Follow these links to our Recycling Guide to find out how to easily dispose of each type of battery.

When storing used batteries prior to recycling, please use caution to keep batteries from short-circuiting, overheating or sparking.

You can either:

  • Place each battery in a separate clear plastic bag, or;
  • Use clear packing tape, electrical tape or duct tape to tape the ends of the batteries to prevent battery ends from touching one another or striking against metal surfaces, then place the batteries in a clear plastic bag.

Avoid storing batteries in a metal container.

Looking to save some money? Try using rechargeable batteries in place of single-use alkaline batteries. Rechargeable batteries will work in almost all the same applications, provide similar battery life, and can be recharged hundreds of times — making them far more cost-effective and eco-friendly than single-use batteries. Just make sure to use single-use batteries for emergency devices such as smoke detectors.

Happy National Battery Day!

Ask the Experts: How to Recycle Peanut Butter Jars — A Sticky Subject

Peanut Butter Jar
recycle questions

Have a tough recycling question?
We’re here to help! Ask the Experts »

Q: How do I recycle my peanut butter jars?
—Rita

A: We’ve all been there. You’ve just spread the last scoop of peanut butter on your PB&J sandwich only to be confronted with a challenge: a recyclable container that is too dirty to recycle. Don’t stress — we’ve got you covered. Read over these three simple steps to get that sticky jar recycle-ready.

1. Scrape

Using a spatula or other utensil, remove as much peanut butter from the jar as possible. Alternatively, if you have a dog, consider letting them lick the leftover peanut butter out of the jar in lieu of scraping it out.

2. Soak & Shake

Fill the jar one-third of the way full with warm water and a drop of soap, then replace the cap and let it soak for five minutes. Shake vigorously for twenty seconds, drain and rinse. At this point, only a small amount of oily residue will be left in the jar.

3. Dry

Set the jar upside down in a drying rack or on the edge of the sink to drip dry. Once the jar is dry, replace the cap and it is ready to recycle. If your peanut butter jar is made of glass, recycle the lid separately from the jar.

Not a peanut butter person? These steps will also work for other nut and seed butter jars, as well as most other hard-to-clean jars.

Composting Workshops

Sign up for a free composting workshop!

Choose to take either a home compost lesson OR a worm compost lesson on 4 different dates this year. (See the schedule below.)

Sign up for the worm compost lesson and assemble a free working worm bin to take home.

Worm composting focuses on food scraps and is often the best option for those with limited space and minimal or no yard trimmings.

OR

Sign up for the home compost lesson and have a choice of the following:

  1. $20 Earth Machine bin for backyard composting — retail value $130, 10 cu. ft. capacity
  2. $20 Soil Saver bin for backyard composting — retail value $95, 11.5 cu. ft. capacity
  3. $30 mail-in rebate towards (select one):
    • The purchase of a worm composting bin
    • The purchase of a lawnmower retrofit
    • The purchase of a mulching lawnmower

Limit one bin or rebate per household (while supplies last) for Napa County residents only. Cash or checks only.

2020 Composting Workshops — Registration Is Required!

Space is limited and workshops fill up quickly. Registration online is the surest way to reserve a space for your preferred workshop. Register for either one home compost OR one worm compost class on any workshop day. Workshops are approximately 2 hours. Some workshops are held outdoors, so please dress appropriately.

Saturday, March 14 at 9:00am
UC Coop Extension, Meeting Room, Napa

Saturday, March 28 at 10:00am
Boys & Girls Club, Calistoga

Saturday, May 16 at 10:00am
Senior Center, American Canyon

Saturday, September 9 at 6:00pm
Skyline Park Social Hall, Napa

Also, come visit us at the Oxbow Commons on Earth Day to find out about composting, soils, and upcoming classes! Earth Day is Sunday, April 26, 11am – 4pm.

Register online to immediately secure your space: www.cityofnapa.org/compost. No phone registrations are accepted.

Confirmation & directions are sent when your registration is complete. The online registration system allows you to cancel if plans change. This helps us to free up space for others.

If you want to register by mail, please send your name, address, primary phone number, choice of worm or home compost workshop, and desired first & second options for class dates to:

City of Napa, Utilities Department
Attn: Recycling / Materials Diversion Division
P.O. Box 660
Napa, CA 94559-0660

Napa’s 5-Year Composting Stats

Napa City and County residents threw out 9% less trash — and composted nearly 9,000 more tons — during the first 5 years of the food composting program. Thanks to all of you for helping reduce waste, decrease emissions and create local organic compost!

Even so, we can do better. There are still thousands of tons of compostables going to the landfill. Join your neighbors and compost all your food scraps and soiled paper — check out naparecycling.com for all the details!

Cool Your Coals!

Do not put hot coals or ashes in your carts!

Hot ashes or coals can cause severe burns and fire damage to properties. Follow these safety measures when disposing of them:

  • Use metal cans no more than 30 gallons in size with tight-fitting metal lids.
  • Fill cans with hot ashes only halfway so they cool quickly and are light in weight.
  • Secure metal lids on cans to prevent spread of sparks or embers.
  • Check, stir, and water your ash cans for several days until completely cool.
  • Avoid adding more hot coals on top of the cool coals by using a set of cans that can be used sequentially.
  • Check to be sure that ashes are completely cool before placing them in your compost cart.

Buy Napa’s Organic Compost!

hands holding soil with sprout

We turn your food scraps, yard trimmings and other organic material into compost — right here at our Napa facility!

Enrich your soil naturally, prevent erosion, conserve water, close the loop, save money, and fight climate change with Napa’s local compost — the benefits go on and on! It’s perfect for vineyards, farms, gardens, yards and landscaping projects.

Where You Can Buy It

Napa’s local organic compost is available for purchase at:

Napa Recycling & Composting Facility
820 Levitin Way, American Canyon | (707) 255-5200
Open Daily 8am – 4pm

Organic Compost $10 / Cubic Yard (+ tax)
NRWS/NCRWS will deliver within our service area (additional fees apply)

Certifications

Our compost is listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) for use in organic production, approved as an Organic Input Fertilizing Material by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), and certified with the United States Composting Council’s Seal of Testing Assurance.

Learn More

What to Do With All That Meal Kit Packaging

So it’s 2020 and you’ve resolved to make this the year you start cooking more and eating better. You’ve signed up for your first meal kit and made some tasty dishes, but now you’re wondering what to do with all that packaging. Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered with this quick guide on how to properly dispose of all your meal kit packaging.


Cardboard Box

Paper and Cardboard

The cardboard box your meals are shipped in, cardboard dividers, paper trays and recipe cards are all made of paper. These pieces of your meal kit can be placed in the recycling. However, if these items become wet or food-soiled on their way to your house or while you’re cooking, they should be tossed in your compost cart.


Ice Pack

Ice Packs

These guys do a great job of keeping your food from spoiling while it’s shipped to your home, but they also require some attention to be disposed of properly. To dispose of an ice pack, start by checking whether the ice pack is just frozen water or something else. If the ice pack contains anything other than water, it should go in the garbage. Gel from ice packs will cause bad clogs in your drains, so make sure this gel doesn’t get washed down a sink or flushed down a toilet. If your ice pack is just filled with water, cut a corner of the pack and place it in a sink to thaw. After the water has melted and drained, dry the empty pack and drop it off with other plastic bags.

If you aren’t going to take the plastic film to a drop-off, you can toss your ice pack in the garbage. Please don’t put film plastic in your recycling cart.

Or, better yet, reuse your ice pack! Stick the ice pack back in your freezer, and then toss it in a cooler to chill drinks or food whenever you’re camping, tailgating or hosting. That way you won’t have to buy as many bags of ice at the store.


Plastic Bag

Plastic Bags

Often containing vegetables, spices and sauces, these bags should be dropped off with other plastic bags once they are clean and dry or tossed in the garbage.


Plastic Ramekin

Plastic Clamshells, Jars and Bottles

This is where things can get a bit tricky. Luckily, most, if not all, the plastic containers in your meal kit will be clearly labeled with a plastic resin number to help you identify the type of plastic. From there you can use our Recycling Guide to find out how you should dispose of each type of plastic. Keep in mind, items smaller than the lid on a standard peanut butter jar are too small to recycle and must be put in the trash. Have some plastic that’s not recyclable? Upcycle it! Check out this video by Purple Carrot for some fun ideas.


Compost Bowl

Food Scraps

Cooking at home creates food scraps. Potato peels, scallion ends and other scraps can be tossed in your compost cart.

Find something in your meal kit that isn’t mentioned here? Look it up in our handy Recycling Guide.


Food for Thought

Feel like you’re finally getting the hang of cooking at home? Save those recipe cards, or find some new recipes on the web, and try cooking without the meal kit. Plan out your meals ahead of time to minimize food waste and remember to bring your reusable bags and produce bags to the store. Bon appétit!

What Happens When “Tanglers” Get in the Recycling (Video)

What happens when “tanglers” get into the recycling? They bring equipment at the recycling facility to a full stop.

“Tanglers” are long or stretchy items, including plastic bags, clothing & textiles, bedding, bungee cords, garden hoses, electrical cords & cables, and Christmas lights.

Watch this video to see what happens when everything gets “Tangled Up.”

Give Your Garbage Collector a Brake

In the U.S., we toss out more than 250 million tons of garbage every year. Unfortunately, once all that trash is tossed to the curb, it’s a dangerous job to pick it up.

Collecting garbage is one of the top five most dangerous jobs in America. The fatal injury rate is higher than it is for police officers, firefighters, construction workers and miners.

So what can we do to help keep our garbage collectors safe? Drive safely! Being struck by a motorist is a leading cause of death for garbage truck drivers. Luckily, with proper awareness, it’s completely preventable.

First, slow down when approaching collection trucks. Stop if necessary to allow them to do their job. Not only are garbage collectors trying to focus on doing their job, they are also dealing with limited visibility, loud noises, and — compared to the average vehicle — relatively complicated machinery.

Second, give trucks and workers plenty of space. If you pass a truck, check for workers on the ground first. Then check for traffic coming from the opposite direction. If it’s all clear, move over in the road to create a safe distance between you and the truck. Don’t try to pass a garbage truck if there isn’t room, if there is oncoming traffic, or if the visibility is poor.

Third, stay alert while passing a collection truck. Don’t accelerate while passing, and avoid distractions such as texting, using a GPS or radio until you have safely made it around the truck.

Follow these steps and you’ll make your neighborhood garbage collector’s job a whole lot safer.