Happy Earth Day! 2022

“Gratitude is most powerful as a response to the Earth because it provides an opening to reciprocity, to the act of giving back. Reciprocity–returning the gift–is not just good manners; it is how the biophysical world works… Let us live in a way that the Earth will be grateful for us.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer

Today marks the 52th Earth Day. Since the first Earth Day, people have brought attention to environmental problems by picking up trash and marching in support of the Earth. We can still pick up trash that we find on the side of the road and pay special attention to our environment today, but we can also have a much greater positive impact on the planet by our every day actions.

Heading into the spring, summer, and fall seasons of abundance on this Earth Day in 2022, we challenge you to consider: how will you celebrate and give back to our planet this year?

Below are just a few examples of things we can do to celebrate and give back to the planet that provides our food and resources. Spread the word! Even if we all just do one thing, the more people who take a step, the healthier our planet will be and the more it will be able to provide for us and our descendants. 

1. Reduce food waste.

Approximately 30-40% of food in the US is wasted. If it ends up in a landfill, it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. But disposal isn’t the only problem with food waste or even the biggest — when the food isn’t eaten, all of the resources that went into making it — the inputs like fertilizers and water, the micronutrients that were in the soil, the labor, the transportation to the store or restaurant or our plates — are wasted too. 

The best way to help the food waste problem is to prevent food waste in our home kitchens. We can be more intentional about our grocery shopping (planning meals and making lists ahead of time), store our food properly, organize our fridges for optimal food storage, share excess food with friends and neighbors, donate food from our pantries, use substitute ingredients if it’s just for one recipe, and using up our leftovers.

If we do end up with extra food (and we’ll always have things like egg shells, banana peels, onion skins), keeping these items out of the landfill can make a huge impact on the planet. Have chickens, or maybe your neighbors do? They might want your scraps. When we compost, we help return some of the nutrients that went into making the food in the first place, which helps offset some of the loss associated with the food not being eaten by a person or an animal. If you don’t want to compost in your backyard, bring us your food scraps. We’ll turn them into beautiful compost to help return nutrients to the Earth and grow more food for tomorrow.

2. Before you buy new clothes, ask yourself how often you’ll wear it and if you really need it.

The fashion industry is responsible for many environmental problems, from microplastics to pesticide use to massive soil and groundwater pollution to contributing 8-10% of global carbon emissions (more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined), and on top of that so much of what is produced just ends up being thrown away even before it’s sold, or after only a few uses.

If you’re shopping, consider buying from a thrift store or for vintage items. Opt out of the cycle of demand for producers to keep overproducing each season.

If you have old clothes or towels you want to get rid of, check out our **new** and **expanded** guidelines for what textiles we accept at our Johnson and Stowe locations. We partner with the organization Helpsy, which accepts CLEAN, DRY, and ODOR-FREE textiles. Helpsy will either donate them to an organization with the capacity to make sure the clothes are distributed to people in need or will ensure that they are recycled. Depending on the material, your old clothes could get made into rags or stuffing and insulation — this is so much better than ending up in a landfill or, worse, in one of the world’s “Great Fashion Garbage Patches.” Don’t go to Johnson or Stowe? Check out our site for other donation options, or cut the clothes up to use at home as cleaning rags.

3. Dispose of your hazardous waste and special recycling properly.

Keeping hazardous waste out of the landfills and making sure they don’t get mixed in with our blue bin recycling helps keeps toxins out of our air and groundwater, and it also protects waste management staff from exposure to toxins or fires that can start if reactive chemicals are mixed with other materials.

If you find yourself with an item you want to get rid of and it’s not something that you use and dispose of regularly (like an aluminum can or a plastic bag) so you aren’t 100% sure what to do with it, check our A-Z list for instructions on how to properly manage less-common items like batteries, electronics, or personal hygiene and cleaning products. 

And don’t forget to mark your calendars for our household hazardous waste collection events and check our list of acceptable items. By participating in these events, you’re helping to keep toxins out of the environment.

  • Our first one for 2022 is May 6 at Lamoille Union High School (details below).
  • We are planning future events for August 20 in Worcester and September 10 at Lamoille Union High School

4. Want more ideas? See our site for more ideas on how you can help the planet by learning more about waste management topics and reducing waste

close up photography of sleeping tabby cat

Lotsa Litter…Kitty Litter That Is

Can I compost kitty litter?

close up photography of sleeping tabby cat

I am oftentimes asked by waste-conscious folks if kitty litter can be composted.

Having never been allowed to have cats growing up (my siblings were severely allergic), I never understood the unique relationship between cats and their humans and the even more complicated relationship between cats and the waste products produced to keep them happy (i.e., the food and litter containers, the used litter, the old litter boxes, and the toys!) However, the questions I have received and the stories that have been shared with me since I have been in the outreach role with the LRSWMD have opened my eyes and piqued my interested in the feline-human partnership. I’d like to take this opportunity to share some of what I have learned over the years.

Wet food cans are recyclable.  Rinse them and put them in the blue bin – as long as they are bigger than 2” on two sides, of course. And most wet food cans are; the label can stay on, too.  If your kitty litter comes in a plastic bucket, take off the handle and that bucket can be recycled.  If you are buying litter in a box or a bag, it needs to go in the trash. If you are looking to get as much use out of that item as possible, put the old litter in the empty box or bag and dispose of them in the trash.

I have come to understand that large amounts of kitty litter are used for just one cat so I am oftentimes asked by waste-conscious folks if kitty litter can be composted. Certain brands of kitty litter lend it to more easily be composted but it requires special attention and consideration if you are going to try to compost kitty litter. “The best choices for compostable cat litters are those made from natural, living sources…. Another good option for an earth-friendly and compostable cat-litter is a commercially produced litter made from pine or cedar.” 

Ultimately, it’s up to your level of comfort on how much of your kitty waste you compost, what process you use to compost it, and how you use the finished compost.  Here are some websites with different perspectives which support keeping the used litter out of the landfill. Please review them before you decide whether or not starting your own kitty litter composting system will work for you. Note: Kitty litter and pet waste is NOT accepted in the Lamoille Soil Organics program at LRSWMD Drop-off locations.

And of course, my most favorite strategy, simply  because it generates no waste at all:

But, remember my comment to start this post – I have never lived with a cat in my life so the reality of this actually being possible is may be overly optimistic. And who wants to find your cat on the toilet during your middle of the night visit?!

Please feel welcome to share your kitty experiences in the comments.

Hitting the “Big Screen”

Two days worth of corrugated cardboard collection at the Stowe Transfer Station.

Videos showing how we work

The LRSWMD is happy to announce our latest productions!

We are elated to share our latest learning videos with you. Both videos were produced in-house and aim to enhance your understanding of some of the inner workings of the Lamoille Regional Solid Waste Management District. The first video is a tour of our Lamoille Soil Composting facility. We have been so impressed with the amount of food scraps that have been brought into our facilities that we thought it was a worthwhile project to reveal what happens to your food scraps after you fill those totes! This nine-minute video is a condensed experience of how your food scraps are converted into nutrient-rich compost.

Our second video was created to inform our customers of a new recycling pilot project that has begun at the Stowe Transfer Station. Just as we have been collecting glass in a separate container here since April 2020, we have now introduced a similar program for corrugated cardboard. In just three and a half week, we have already captured over 5 tons of this valuable material! Thank you for quickly accepting this new program. To help us carry on this overwhelmingly positive response, please prepare your cardboard boxes as shown in this quick video. Keeping all of our material streams clean is always a top priority for us.

Tips for sorting corrugated cardboard correctly.

Apply the ‘Buyerarchy’ for Back To School

school themed flatlay
Shop your home first for back to school supplies this year.
Photo by olia danilevich on Pexels.com

According to an email sent out in from the zerowastestore.com in early August:  


The average American family spends about $600 on new school supplies, clothes, and college gear every fall. But with all the additional waste that is created, it’s the environment that pays the highest price for this annual autumn spending spree.

Sustainable Shopping Says Farewell to Fast Fashion – ZeroWasteStore.com

That is a pretty steep number! It is well-known that back to school comes with a list of necessary supplies but perhaps this is the year to approach that list from the perspective of the Buyerachy of Needs – inspired by and adapted from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The  Buyerarchy of Needs prioritizes saving money through several reuse and procurement choices leaving buying as the last and final option. 

Buyerarchy of Needs. Photo credit: Sarah Lazarovic

In the melee of getting organized for back to school and making sure everything on the list has been acquired, it may be easy to forget the simplest of first steps – begin by evaluating what you already have.  Put that that Buyerarchy Pyramid into action! Shop your own closets, dressers, art supplies, and home offices. Include the kids in this scavenger hunt-like activity. Together, find the items on the list that you already have at home and see what remains on the list after applying the Buyerarchy. This article offers a gentle approach to sustainable choices for filling in the gaps on that prescribed list. 

Packing lunches in reusable items, rather than individually packaged ones, reduces the amount of waste created each school year.

The start of a new year is also a great time to set goals and start new habits.  Maybe this is the year to change the way you prep lunches. Packing lunches with disposable and individually packed snacks creates plus or minus 60 pounds of waste per student per year according to various sources. Or maybe it’s time to prioritize sustainability into everyday choices. This Portland Mom writes about how to do that.  Maybe you want to be better about recycling this year or just want to survive a week without forgetting to feed the dog! Small actions matter; it’s executing the action that makes the difference. 

Here’s to a safe, healthy, and happy school year! 

Earth Day Reuse Projects

If you are interested in discovering some sustainable products to help fill in those gaps on that list in a planet-conscious way, check out our Resources – Lamoille Regional Solid Waste Management District (lrswmd.org) page.

We’ve also updated our Resources page for school staff and faculty. Find links for technical services and classroom activities here:

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