Residential drop-off at Holly Hill has become popular, and now GRAB (the Greenwich Recycling Advisory Board) has partnered with the Town and Waste Free Greenwich to offer the “Waste Wizard.”
Introduced just a few weeks ago, Waste Wizard answers specific questions about whether an item goes in the trash or recycling. Or to Goodwill, textile recycling, or food scrap recycling.
Get an answer fast.
Simply select the camera function on your phone and hold it up to the QR code on the Waste Wizard banner at Holly Hill.
A link will pop up on your phone. That link will bring you to Waste Free Greenwich’s search engine.
Julie DesChamps, who is the founder of Waste Free Greenwich and part of GRAB, said that in just a few weeks Waste Wizard had 1,300 visits.
“It’s a great tool to determine where to put an item, how to compost, or find a list of donation locations where items like furniture can be reused,” she said.
Carpeting and Padding. Trash.
Patrick Collins, Environmental Operations Manager at Holly Hill, said since recent flooding, a frequent search on Waste Wizard was carpeting and padding.
Bottle Tops/Caps. Leave the top/cap screwed on the bottle or jar before recycling.
“They’re small and difficult to recycle if they’re not screwed on,” DesChamps said.
Batteries. Recycle in designated bin at Holly Hill.
There is a bin for batteries located outside the electronics recycling container (near the yard waste disposal).
“We don’t want the acid in the trash or recycling,” DesChamps said.
Plastic bags. Do not put plastic bags into single stream recycling.
You can bring them to Holly Hill where there is a container by the office trailer.
Alternately, several grocery stores accept empty plastic bags and recycle them to make into benches and decking.
Mattresses. There is a mattress container by the trash building and food scrap recycling area at Holly Hill.
“They take apart the mattresses and reuse all the parts,” DesChamps said, adding that the container had been removed for a few months earlier in the Covid pandemic, but it is now back in place.
Metal lids. Lids from empty cans like your tuna, cat food or dog food should be placed inside the can and recycled.
Styrofoam trays. Trash.
Yogurt tops. What about the foil you peel off the top of a yogurt? Trash.
Egg shells. Include them in your food scrap recycling.
Television Sets. Recycle them in the electronics area at Holly Hill.
Shredded paper. There is a special container at Holly Hill for shredded paper.
Furniture. If furniture is in good condition, use Waste Wizard for a list of organizations that accept furniture donations. The trailer at Goodwill at Holly Hill is not currently taking furniture, but the location in Riverside is.
Paint. Disposing of paint is tricky as it depends on the type of paint. DesChamps said that depending on the type of paint it is possible to use kitty litter to clump paint and dry it out before throwing it away. She said paint stores accept unused paint through the State of Connecticut’s paint care program.
“You can bring up to five cans to one of these stores,” she said. “They reuse the paint and recycle it. We don’t want the paint in the trash because it can leak onto the highway during transit.”
DesChamps said she’s excited about additional opportunities to keep items out of the waste stream, starting with Waste Wizard.
“The great thing about this tool is it’s super easy to update and add materials and locations,” DesChamps added. “We’d also like to encourage residents to send feedback and suggest items to include. There’s a help button where comments can be sent.”
“What’s been most eye opening is just how much can be kept out of our waste stream overall through repair, reuse and recycling. We can do so much more,” DesChamps said.
DesChamps explained that Waste Wizard was funded through proceeds from a partnership with Fairco-Greentree Recycling. The organization provides large green bins for donated textiles.
It is ideal because while you can’t donate a ripped sheet or stained towel to Goodwill, Fairco Greentree will accept those items and give them a new life.
“They’ll take any textile in any condition as long as it’s not wet or moldy,” she said.
“It can be stained or torn. You can donate extra fabric, linens, bedding, tablecloths, pocketbooks, or wallets,” she said. “But they don’t take pillows, mattresses, or rugs. No foam stuffing and no stuffed animals.”
“Fairco-Greentree will sell the donated textiles to sorting companies, and from there they’re graded. What’s usable and wearable they bring to our southern border and central America to sell in flea markets and second hand stores in underserved areas.”
“Things that cannot be reused become rags or stuffing,” DesChamps said, adding that 95% of textiles can have a second life.
“We’re throwing away so much,” she said. “But they can even use a single sock to make wiping rags or industrial and residential absorbants, insulation or carpet padding – and for the auto industry.”
DesChamps shared data on the most frequent searches on Waste Wizard.
- The top 10 searches were:
- Paint (147)
- Furniture (140)
- Plastic bottle caps (88)
- Egg shells (81)
- Plastic bags (42)
- Battery-disposable (37)
- Mattress (26)
- Flooring – carpet & underpadding (21)
- Shredded paper (18)
- Television (18)
- CT’s Mattress Stewardship Law: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Reduce-Reuse-Recycle/Recycling/Mattress-Recycling
- Paint Care Program: https://www.paintcare.org/states/connecticut/