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Keyword: recycle

By Jeanette Garcia Polasky, Communications Specialist, Department of Public Works

Americans will spend about $9 billion this Halloween on costumes, decorations and candy. Most of this merchandise is single use and comes in packaging that can’t be recycled. In fact, the amount of Halloween waste we generate each year is downright terrifying. But fear not! There are lots of creative ways to green your Halloween and save money while having a ghastly good time.

Buy pumpkins, gourds and cornstalks from local farms, nurseries or farmers markets. Have a green goblin thumb? Grow your own next year. And don’t waste those pumpkin guts – use the flesh in recipes and roast the seeds for a healthy snack.

Swap, buy used or upcycle

Swap, buy used or create upcycled decorations. You’d be surprised by how easy it can be. It took me less than 30 minutes to transform a selection of sweet-faced knick-knacks into a motley crew of creepy décor using a little paint.

You also can swap, buy used or make upcycled costumes. Use ingredients you have at home to make face paint. Next September, host a Halloween costume swap party.

Use up arts and crafts supplies by upcycling buckets, pillowcases, cans, t-shirts, gift bags or reusable totes for trick-or-treating. Trick or treat in places you can reach on foot or by public transit.

Keep treats in the bag

Please don’t litter! Parents – bring a bag and gloves or grabber tool to pick up litter along your trick-or-treating route. Your little ghosts and ghouls shouldn’t be leaving a trail of candy wrappers in their wake. Want to help keep ours a clean green county year round? Clean streams and public lands with your local watershed association, do a Clean Green 15 pickup in your community, or get your group to participate in the Adopt-A-Road program.

Having a party?

Send invitations electronically. Serve locally-sourced food and drink. Buy fair-trade chocolate. Use reusable linens and kitchenware. If you must purchase new items for your Halloween celebrations, look for products and packaging made with recycled content. Serve witches’ brew or Frankenpunch in drink dispensers instead of beverages in bottles and cans. Use a meal planning tool to determine how much food to prepare. Store leftovers in reusable containers and (actually) eat them. Put out a recycling bin and ask your guests to use it. Visit the County’s website to find out what is and is not accepted for curbside recycling collection.

Use leftover candy in baked goods, ice cream sundaes, snack mixes, cereal bars and more. Use your imagination, or try one of many recipes found on Pinterest.

Be safe and have fun! 

Have a Green-o-ween idea you’d like to share? Send it to Follow Clean Green Baltimore County on Facebook for news and information to help you live more sustainably.

County Public Works Department to Mark National Recycling Celebration with Facebook Live Q&A

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has declared November 15, 2017, as America Recycles Day in Baltimore County. As part of this event, on November 15 at 2 p.m., the Baltimore County Department of Public Works will host a Facebook Live Q&A on the County’s official social media page for sustainable living, Clean Green Baltimore County, joining thousands of local organizers holding recycling events across the country to celebrate America Recycles Day (ARD), a national initiative of Keep America Beautiful.

America Recycles Day is the only nationally recognized day and coast-to-coast community-driven awareness campaign dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States. It has been held on – and in the weeks leading into – November 15 since 1997.

The purpose of the Facebook Live Q&A is to give citizens and local businesses the opportunity to ask questions about recycling in Baltimore County, such as, what items can and can’t be recycled? What can I do with items that are recyclable but cannot be set out for curbside collection? What products contain recycled material, and why is it important to “buy recycled?”

Baltimore County recycling experts Richard Keller and Rashida White will answer questions and discuss important recycling do's and don'ts during this first live stream event of its kind produced by Baltimore County Government. Potential viewers can visit to like Clean Green Baltimore County on Facebook, or bookmark the URL to make this live video streaming event easy to find on America Recycles Day.

“Every day should be a recycling day, but we celebrate America Recycles Day every November 15th to encourage residents and businesses to recycle all they can and to reduce the amount of waste they produce in the first place,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “While we have made great progress in recycling, businesses and residents can still recycle more material.”

Last year, Baltimore County residents recycled 52,425 tons of material through the single stream recycling program. Recycling reduces the need for disposal, generates revenue for the County from the sale of recyclables, provides raw material for manufacturers, reduces greenhouse gases and saves valuable resources for future generations.

Baltimore County Recycling and Waste Prevention Manager Charlie Reighart hopes the Facebook Live Q&A will give residents the opportunity to get the information they need to recycle more, and better. “Baltimore County residents enjoy a single stream recycling program that makes recycling easy, something to celebrate especially on America Recycles Day, but also throughout the year,” he said.

Those who are unable to watch the live stream on Facebook can send their recycling questions to The Department will use questions received via email in the Q&A and send replies after the broadcast.

For general information about recycling in Baltimore County, please call 410-887-2000, send an email to or visit the Bureau of Solid Waste Management online.  

by Jeanette Garcia Polasky, Communications Specialist, Baltimore County Department of Public Works

Do you keep unwanted but reusable items around the house because you can’t find a way to reuse or recycle them, and sending them to the landfill is wasteful? Do you ever think to yourself, “But I might need that someday,” when considering what to do with something you haven’t used in years? Have you ever tried to downsize your household inventory, only to find yourself traipsing down memory lane, too sentimental to get rid of even the most commonplace items, like that waffle maker you received as a wedding gift and used only twice?

If so, we have a thing or two in common. At home in a crawlspace, I've been storing a lot of items I no longer use, such as:

  • The old desktop computer I used to write countless college papers;
  • A collapsible rowing machine, a fitness ball and a set of small weights from numerous attempts to get into shape;
  • Four huge boxes of clothing (because, you never know, they may come back in style, and I just might fit back into those jeans someday);
  • A bag of cheap stuffed animals I’ve won at carnivals (because I’m such a grown-up);
  • Plus two home entertainment systems, cell phones, crutches, linens, a coffee table and two rugs – all items I've replaced with newer versions.

But all of that changes this weekend. I am emptying the crawlspace and will begin donating, selling or recycling everything in it.

Sounds like a tedious task, right? Once I’ve finished clearing out the space and sorting everything in it, who will want my old electronics, clothes, housewares and equipment? It seems I’ll have to do a lot of homework to find someone willing to accept my materials.

Actually, it won’t be difficult at all thanks to the Baltimore County 2017 Reuse Directory. The Reuse Directory lists organizations throughout greater Baltimore that accept various items and materials for reuse. Many of these are nonprofit organizations that provide donated resources to people in need, but the directory also lists businesses that buy specific items and even some companies that recycle materials the County doesn’t accept at its materials recovery facility. Some of the organizations listed will even pick up your unwanted stuff!

Why should you make your unwanted items available for reuse instead of throwing them away? As noted in the directory, reuse:

  • Lowers disposal costs.
  • Conserves space in the landfill.
  • Helps other people and organizations.
  • Saves money, energy and natural resources.
  • Reduces air and water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

The 2017 Reuse Directory (PDF) includes links to the participating organizations’ websites. You can search the directory on your computer or in your mobile web browser. Printed copies of the directory are available at a Baltimore County library or senior center near you.

Whether you are looking to make some extra room in your house or you're replacing old items with new ones, consult the Baltimore County Reuse Directory to find organizations that will give or sell your unwanted items to someone who can use them!

Revised September 11, 2017