Grandma was a Recycler and Composter

by Cindy Pantea

I thought it was crazy at the time. Grandma washing out bread bags to reuse for lunchbox sandwiches, washing tin foil for reuse, and that smelly metal Maxwell House recycling can under the kitchen sink housing rotten, fermenting food scraps for her garden.

If you had grandparents or parents who lived through the depression era of the 30s, this may sound familiar. Now, we have been experiencing tough economic times, and you are hearing more and more about recycling and sustainable gardening — actions we should have been borrowing from our recycling, composting grandparents and then perfecting and showing our kids how to do.

We Became Wasteful

There’s no denying it…we were wasteful. And guess what? Now we are experiencing hard times economically. History sure has a way of repeating itself it seems.

Plus, our wastefulness has put our planet in jeopardy. So many of us are just now reusing glass or plastic containers, or at least putting them in our City of Akron recycling bins.

But when it comes to gardening, we are having a tough time getting things to grow or having to spend a lot of money on good soil just to get the $4.00 quarter grown tomato plant to make its fruit. So we think it is easier to just buy the food we need. Until that grocery bill climbs as high as the scraps of food we send to the landfill.

We could just compost, of course.  Ewww…but the contents of that coffee can smelled awful.

On the other hand, I will say this about the contents of that smelly coffee can: Grandma had a great berry patch and vegetable/fruit garden (as well as flowerbed), and she certainly shared with us the fruits and vegetables of her extra effort.

Composting Doesn’t Have to Stink

Grandma obviously did her own type of composting. She was saving scraps and rotting them down to throw right in the garden soil. It worked for her, but Polly, our Flowerscape Director, doesn’t recommend it, as you run the risk of the fermenting scraps being too acidic for your garden plants.

But Grandma was on the right track. For indoor composting, she should have:

  1. Poked some holes in the bottom and top sides of a larger metal or plastic container.
  2. Sat the container on a brick (or something to keep the bottom from touching the floor) and also sit the brick in/on a flat container or something to catch leakage or spills. Note: Steps 1 and 2 give the compost pile air, which is necessary to the composting process.
  3. Layered the food scraps with dirt then dried, dying plant material (leaves from outside, leaves from an inside plant), and then adding water. Note: This layering step is really what helps eliminates the smell.
  4. Stirred the composting material regularly. Note: You can actually speed up the composting process by stirring more often.

Of course, she also could have just taken her scraps outside more often to an outdoor compost bin and done the same process. As long as you are layering with dirt and yard material (grass, leaves, small twigs) you’re good to go.

Here’s something else to remember: Don’t add oils, bones, meat or fish to your compost pile.

The compost is ready when it looks like soil that is consistent in texture, without any recognizable organic materials like your food scraps and leaves. Sometimes you’ll see a tiny twig or wood bit which is okay, but the rest should be unrecognizable. Also, the compost should not stink but rather have a pleasant and earthy scent.

Keep Akron Beautiful Places Recycling Bins at the Akron Marathon

By Jacqui Flaherty, Program Manager

Keep Akron Beautiful in partnership with the Akron Marathon received 25 litter recycling bins designed specifically for placement at the finish line of the Akron Marathon. The recycling bins are thanks to a grant made possible by Keep America Beautiful and The Coca-Cola Foundation. In 2012, The Akron Marathon earned certification from the Council for Responsible Sport for efforts to reduce the event’s environmental footprint and increase its social impact. The Akron Marathon’s sustainability program is titled Environmental Endurance.

At the 2012 race, 77.7 percent of all waste was diverted from the landfill; of the 7.25 tons of waste, 0.17 ton was composted and 5.46 tons were recycled. The grant that the Akron Marathon and Keep Akron Beautiful has received will assist litter recycling at the event, in which over 15,000 runners participate. Recycling is a key component in the Akron Marathon and we are so excited to have been able to assist them in their recycling efforts.

“The Akron Marathon is thrilled to receive this grant,” said Anne Bitong, executive director. “We have put a lot of effort into providing a community event that is socially and environmentally responsible, and thanks to our partnership with Keep Akron Beautiful, we will be able to continually improve our recycling efforts at the finish line this year.

President & CEO of Keep Akron Beautiful, Paula Davis added, “This is a fine example of how our agency can promote recycling-on-the-go in our community to reinforce personal recycling behavior outside of our homes, schools and places of work. Thank you to our national organization, Keep America Beautiful, for providing these funding opportunities to address our local sustainability goals.”

Keep Akron Beautiful is proud to be partnered with the Akron Marathon, and we cannot wait to show how these bins will improve our recycling effort in 2013.

Keep Akron Beautiful places recycling bins at Akron Marathon 2013

The Finish Line at the Akron Marathon 2013 will have 25 bin’s provided by the Coca-Cola Foundation and Keep America Beautiful. Keep Akron Beautiful is proud to be partnered with the Akron Marathon for this grant.

Confidential Shredding and Waste Recycling Dates by ReWorks

by Cindy Pantea

ReWorks invites you to recycle more! That’s why they are sponsoring confidential paper shredding events to take place on Saturdays between 9:00 AM 12:00 NOON for Summit County residents and businesses. There is a limit of 10 file boxes or shopping bags at each shredding event scheduled as follows:

  • May 11 – Household Hazardous Waste Recycling Center at 1201 Graham Rd., Stow (NO Hazardous Waste Waste* will be accepted at this event)
  • Jun 08 – Fairlawn Service Department at 3300 Fairlawn Service Dr. (off Smith Rd.)
  • Jul 13 – Macedonia City Hall at 9691 Valley View Rd.
  • Aug 10 – Green Central Administration at 1755 Townpark Blvd.
  • Sept 14 – Barberton BCF Sports Complex at 841 Wooster Rd. W. (enter Wooster Rd. West only)
  • Oct 05 – The Job Center at 1040 E. Tallmadge Ave., Akron

Remember to remove and reuse: binder clips, paper clips, rubber bands, report covers, binders, and hanging files. NOTHING made of plastic, wood or metal  will be accepted. Staples are okay.

 *Got Hazardous Waste?

On each Thursday, June 6 through September 26, 2013, 2-8 PM, the Household Hazardous Waste Recycling Center at 1201 Graham Rd. in Stow will be open to accept your hazardous waste with a couple stipulations: (1) NO latex paint accepted and (2) Residents only – NO businesses, churches or organizations.

Need Alternate Hazardous Waste Disposal Solutions?

If you need alternate hazardous waste disposal solutions, ReWorks has a .pdf brochure with information here. For other information or to contact ReWorks, visit or call 330-374-0383. 

With a renewed focus on sustainability, ReWorks provides the citizens of Summit County with the programs, resources and knowledge they need to be responsible stewards of the environment.

ReWorks, Keep Akron Beautiful, The City of Akron, the County of Summit, and the Greater Akron Chamber are proud founders of The Summit of Sustainability Awards.

Renewed Focus on Sustainability Drives Name Change for SASWMA

by Cindy Pantea

SASWMA Now ReWorks Lead, Teach, Act - Target Zero

The Summit /Akron Solid Waste Management Authority (SASWMA) has changed their name to ReWorks, with the tagline: Lead, Teach, Act — Target Zero. In their press release (shared below), ReWorks explains how the new name best fits their mission, which has expanded from reducing landfill use to reducing waste period.

For those who may not know, ReWorks is a long time friend of Keep Akron Beautiful. We work on projects together, such as The Summit of Sustainability Awards (SOSA), a project which they, too, are a founder. And often, when we receive calls from Akron residents asking where they should get rid of old tires, plastic grocery bags, packing peanuts, etc. We are able to share this information because of ReWorks. See .pdf version of Local Recycling Solutions from ReWorks:

Thank you ReWorks!

ReWorks Press Release

Read a copy of the press release below regarding the name change from SASWMA to ReWorks:

ReWorks: Lead, Teach, Act-Target Zero

Annually, thousands of Summit County residents visit our Household Hazardous Waste Recycling Center in Stow, take part in our free document shredding events, and participate in a community curbside recycling program that utilizes our grant funding. Dozens of schools invite us to share with their students the importance of environmental stewardship, while providing them with the tools to take part in school-based recycling efforts. Hundreds of local businesses take part in our free recycling programs, waste audits, and waste reduction consultations. Results- millions of pound of hazardous chemicals are recycled and not landfilled, identity theft is reduced, jobs are created, businesses reduce their trash by 80% while saving money on trash bills, millions of trees and natural resources are saved and still very few people know who we are.

In an effort to better deliver on our mission while building awareness of our vision, Summit/Akron Solid Waste Management Authority (SASWMA) has changed its name to ReWorks. “ReWorks clearly reflects our mission, “states Yolanda Walker, ReWorks Executive Director. “Our mission has expanded from reducing reliance on landfills to reducing waste period. ReWorks will provide leadership, education, and engagement for Summit to be a Zero Waste county,” states Mrs. Walker.

ReWorks’ renewed focus on being a catalyst for sustainability provides the citizens of Summit County with the programs, resources and knowledge they need to be responsible stewards of the environment. As a result, our communities will make a significant contribution to our environment and our economy.

For more information on ReWorks programs call 330.374.0383 or visit .