Summer Time Trash Talk
It's that time of year! Summer in the Rockies not only brings the tourists to town, but sends locals heading outdoors to enjoy the beauty and wonder of the lands they call home. With summer heat moving in, there are many factors to consider when talking about trash. Barbeques, yard work, camping, updating your curb appeal...with the increase in activities during the hot summer months, I want to talk trash with you!
Those sunrays hit the house, a cool breeze blows in and you just can't help yourself; you have to get out there! The winter months have left a layer of pine needles on the ground, the native weeds have begun to flourish and the grass is growing out of control in spots. Maybe you have a tree that didn't make it this season, or one that is growing out of control and needs tended to; Elm trees are the worst! Yard waste is increased during the hot summer months, but what do you do with it?
Carefree Disposal allows 2 bags of yard waste in addition to your regular trash each week. Throwing your loose grass clippings and pine needles directly into your bin is common, but it's always best to secure it in a bag before throwing away. Pine needles and cones sat through the winter, breaking down under the snow and spring rains. As leaves and pines pile up and the sun melts the snow away, mold finds a perfect breeding ground to thrive in. The thick layers of dampness create one of Colorado's most common molds, Snow Mold! (click Here to find out more about snow mold). You may see that your grass is patchy in spots, and this may be due to Snow mold! As it dries out, the layers underneath look bare or have a white color to it.
As you clean up the yard these spores are disturbed. Last season during covid we decided to landscape our front yard. I have a HUGE 60 foot plus pine tree on the Northwest corner of my house. It's ringed by large boulders, and I had the bright idea to clear out around the base of the tree and make a cute little flower garden around it. It was horrible! As I scooped out the years of pine needles, a fine white dust went everywhere! If left loose in your bin, the yard waste and mold spores sit in a contained space, sweltering in the hot sun. Grass and yard waste bakes in the heat, and when dumped in the back of the garbage truck it releases a blast of rank, rotting, moldy mess. According to our guys, the worst thing (in the world of trash) to take care of is sweltering yard waste; topping rotten food and diapers on the nasty scale! Gross! Not to mention, it can't be good to breath that in all day while running behind a truck. Best practice, and common curtesy really, is to always bag your yard waste rather than dumping it directly into the bin. It will not only keep your trash man from suddenly ralphing in front of your house when that trash can lid opens, but it keeps it contained when wind comes through! Or better yet, for that yard debris that doesn't seem to be affected by mold, create a compost! Click here to learn more from the EPA about composting.
Large trees and branches need to be broken down. Spears sticking out of the bin, ready to impale the next poor bystander, is not something any of us want to worry about! Before you decide to toss them in the trash, use them for firewood or your next craft project. Maybe you need a gnome home in your garden, or the kids want to make wands! Offer them to your neighbors on Nextdoor or on social media! If none of these appeal to you, check with your local garden shops or mulch suppliers! They may have programs to recycle your yard waste to be reused, as mulch or other landscaping materials, rather than throwing them in the trash. If you do decide to just toss them, please break them down and bag 'em up!
How about that myrtle spurge? Myrtle spurge is an invasive plant that is actually quite toxic! It looks a lot like a succulent you would love to use for groundcover, but the spores can travel for miles and push out the local flora as well as your beautiful plants you have worked hard tending to. This noxious weed is poisonous to animals and humans, so be sure to wear gloves, long sleeves, pants, and even eye protection! Make sure to bag it or even double bag it when removing. To learn more check out this article from Colorado Springs Gazette.
Myrtle Spurge is highly invasive and can travel great distances when pollenating.
Colorado Master Gardeners - El Paso County is comprised of volunteers who help to deliver research-based gardening information to home gardeners. Under Colorado State University, the Colorado Master Gardeners hold free events in the Spring, before the myrtle spurge releases and propagates more. During these events you can bring in and dispose of this poisonous weed, and receive free groundcover to round out your home garden. In an effort to eradicate the invasive spurge from Colorado, Purge the Spurge events have gained in popularity across the state!
What about those many things you find while digging in the garage, or when preparing to do that deep clean on the grill? If you are like me, the grill is used year round (yes even in the snow!) Summer brings on that urge to get down on some BBQ! Maybe you have some old rusted tanks that can no longer be filled. Or your last trip camping left you with several empty green bottles. Maybe you found those old torch bottles hiding in the back of the garage that went empty last season.
Whatever the reason for the empty propane tanks you have, you're ready to trash them. These can NOT go in your regular trash! Hook the tank back up to something and open it up to make sure there is as little gas or fumes left as possible. Puncture a hole in the side after ensuring it is empty, and take it to a facility that will recycle it. Many areas have Hazardous waste disposal sites, or it's possible to recycle them at a facility that sells them as well.
Keep in mind many household items can be toxic and are NOT to be disposed of in your regular trash or recycle, especially when cleaning out the garage!
Anti-freeze, motor oil and filters, ignitable liquids, pesticides, paint, treated wood, fertilizers, pool and spa chemicals, and tires are all examples of items that need special care.
During the summer months we also see many garden hoses mixed into the recycle bins. Garden hoses are NOT recyclable! Not only are they not accepted in your recycle bin, but they can cause huge hazards when they do make it to the Material Recovery Facility (where your recycling materials are sorted and sent for processing). These hoses can get wrapped and tangled in the machinery, leading to temporary shut down and possible injury! If your hose has sprung a leak, toss it in the trash and NOT THE RECYCLE! Better yet, repurpose it!
My husband has used old hoses for many purposes around the house! This past Memorial weekend our sink in the camper sprung a leak...luckily we always have a old garden hose in the storage area. He cut a couple inches off and wrapped it around the gooseneck of the faucet, screwed some clamps on, and we were able to use the sink while out in the woods, with no leaks! I have seen him use portions for siphoning gas, pumping old water from a fish tank, use the end on a faucet and funnel into a large bucket that won't fit in the sink! The possibilities are endless! One single garden hose can be repurposed over and over. Just cut off a section the length needed, or cut several different lengths to keep on hand for those unexpected moments! We never leave our cut up old hose behind when we head to the mountains for a camping trip!
The most important thing to keep in mind when enjoying your summer is to respect your neighbors, respect the lands, and respect the environment. Colorado is known for its' beauty. Animals are part of that and enjoying the summer, just the same as you. Keep your bins secure, don't feed the wildlife, keep your pet's food indoors, and clean up any chemicals or spills. (for more tips on keeping animals from your property and Colorado Springs Bear Ordinance visit our Residential Service page).
During those summer purge sessions try to reuse or donate what you can. The less you send to the landfill, the better for our environment. Start your own composting, grow some food in your garden, and shop/buy local. Make sure you are disposing of your waste responsibly and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! (click here to see my blog post on recycling!)