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Keyword: recycle
Photo of wrapped gifts under a tree

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans generate 25 percent more waste than usual during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Waste less this holiday season by using these helpful tips written by various Bureau of Solid Waste Management staff over the years:

  • Choose a fresh, Maryland-grown tree this holiday season. Fresh trees look great and smell even better, but did you know that real Christmas trees are also renewable, recyclable and benefit the environment? Be sure to mulch or compost your live Christmas tree at the end of the holiday season. If that’s not possible, Baltimore County may collect and recycle your live Christmas tree. Check the County’s website or your collection schedule for more information.
  • Reuse the decorations you already own. If you wish to shop, consider thrift stores and yard sales as a source of new holiday décor, or swap decorations with family and friends. You could also try making decorations from things you already have around the house. 
  • Limit lighting and conserve energy by using LED bulbs. Put holiday lights on automatic timers.
  • Reuse greeting cards as holiday craft supplies, decorations, coasters and gift tags. If you buy new, purchase cards made of 100-percent recycled content, or go paperless and send e-card greetings instead.
  • Consider giving an experience, rather than a physical item. Tickets, memberships and lessons all make great gifts.
  • Shop local, buy used and make homemade gifts.
  • Choose gifts that are refillable or reusable. Avoid disposable single-use items, especially if they cannot be recycled. Plants, flowers or food are great gifts that can minimize waste.
  • Donate unwanted items to people who can use them.
  • Reuse holiday wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift bags, boxes and bows. Cloth items, such as scarves, bandanas or shawls, can also be used to wrap presents (and become part of the gift, as well).
  • Turn down the heat. Wear clothing in layers, use blankets and get active if you feel a chill.
  • Hosting a holiday dinner? Use a meal planning tool to help you make just the right amount of food and generate less food waste. 
  • When hosting parties, use reusable kitchenware, tableware and linens. Offer leftovers to guests, or have a potluck and exchange leftovers to prevent food waste.
  • Traveling this holiday season? Reduce fuel costs by driving smart: pack light, change your oil, tighten your fuel cap, check your vehicle’s air filter and tire pressure, drive under 60 MPH, use cruise control and don’t idle. Carpool if possible. Need to travel long distances? Consider taking a train.

Whether you plan to celebrate at home or find yourself traveling to spend it with family and friends, these tips can help you and your loved ones make more cheer and less waste this holiday season.

Promote Recycling as a Paid Intern with the Baltimore County Bureau of Solid Waste Management's Recycling Division

Photo of a group of people in a classroom wearing hardhats

The Baltimore County Bureau of Solid Waste Management expects to have a recycling internship opening in its Towson office starting as soon as December 2019. Candidates should be able to work at least 150 hours during the internship. Historically, internships have lasted from two months to four years. For best consideration, please apply (details below) by Monday, November 4, 2019.

The Bureau accepts resumes and cover letters, on an ongoing basis, from motivated, talented people interested in promoting recycling and waste prevention. Applicants should have strong oral presentation, research and writing skills. 

As paid Baltimore County employees, interns:

  • Earn $11 per hour to start, with free parking;
  • Gain purposeful work experience in a comfortable office environment;
  • Apply and develop skills in public speaking (including school presentations, tours of our recycling facility and staffing a booth at public events), research, writing, public relations, marketing, data analysis and other areas;
  • Provide input and receive feedback as part of a team promoting recycling, waste prevention and best solid waste management practices;
  • Learn more about how local government works;
  • Work flexible schedules customized to academic, job and other commitments;
  • Improve future employment prospects (many of our interns have gone on to careers in the recycling and waste field, while others have pursued a variety of other jobs); and
  • May become eligible for permanent county jobs.

For further information on the internship program, including testimonials, please visit the Bureau's internship page on the County's website.

If the internship program seems like a good fit, why “waste” more time?  Become part of a proud tradition that includes 101 interns since 1991.

Please send a resume and cover letter to Recycling and Waste Prevention Manager Charlie Reighart at Resumes should include relevant work experience and academic background (including GPA – grade point average). The cover letter should note the months, days of the week and hours of the day candidates are available to the extent known.

For more information, call 410-887-2000.

Not a candidate for such an internship? Please pass this information on to potentially interested candidates.

By Richard Keller, Department of Public Works

Painting of Goldilocks

We all are familiar with the story of Goldilocks and the three bears: she tries three different types of porridge and finds that one is too hot, one is too cold and the other is just right. Goldilocks the Recycler is very similar. She does not want to recycle materials that are too large. She does not want to recycle materials that are too small.  She wants to recycle materials that are just the right size to go through the materials recovery facility (MRF). At the Baltimore County MRF in Cockeysville, we see a lot of materials that are not recyclable because they are either too large or too small. To help prevent this, residents should apply the Goldilocks Principle: recycle only items that are just the right size. But what is the “right size” for recycling?  

Large materials are not only very difficult to handle, but they can also slow down the recycling process or even cause damage to equipment. Never put items larger than three by five feet in size out for curbside recycling collection (cardboard boxes exceeding this size should be broken down). Examples of these large materials include assembled boxes used to package large merchandise and plastic children’s toys such as playhouses, swing sets and kiddie pools. Of course, other large materials such as appliances, scrap metal, garden hoses and equipment, wood, tarps and construction and demolition materials should never be placed out for curbside recycling collection. However, many of these items can be donated or recycled. Check Baltimore County’s Reuse Directory for an organization that will accept these materials.

As for small items, they are very difficult to capture in the sorting process. The Baltimore County MRF operates at 30 to 35 tons per hour. As a result, the mechanical and manual sorting cannot capture small items in the recycling stream.

Photo of a conveyor belt with items to recycle on it

While there is no “magic formula” for what is too small, a rule of thumb you can use is the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules for what you can include in your carry-on bag at the airport. The TSA rules allow only 3.4 ounce (100 ml) or smaller containers. If the item is small enough that you can include it in your carry-on bag, don’t put it in your recycling bin; this means if the item is about as small as, or smaller than, a 3.4 fluid ounce container, it is too small to be sorted at the County's MRF.

Examples of small items include trial- or travel-sized plastic containers, unattached bottle caps and small cosmetic containers, prescription bottles, scraps of paper and similar items. Note that bottle caps can be recycled if they are still attached to their original container. The best guide for determining what is recyclable is to visit the residential recycling collection page on the County’s website or consult your 2018-2021 Trash and Recycling Collection Schedule. If you have any questions about what you can recycle, please contact the Bureau of Solid Waste Management at 410-887-2000 or 

Nov 2019
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Revised October 25, 2019