Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Coming to Ayer this summer: Recycling made simple!

If all goes according to the Ayer Department of Public Works' plans, your days of separating recyclables into multiple bins at home before hauling them to the transfer station and distributing them into multiple bins there should be numbered. The DPW is planning to convert the town's recycling program to a zero-sort system beginning July 1.

That means you'll be able to collect all the common types of recycled goods you do now (paper, newsprint, plastics and glass, for instance) without presorting them at home. And when you arrive at the transfer station, there will be one point of collection for all recyclables and one for trash...and that will be it! (Bulk items will still be handled separately.)

Dan Nason, DPW superintendent, says, "Moving to a zero-sort system will streamline the recycling process for residents, and reducing the number of dropoff points will make trips to the transfer station safer from a traffic standpoint, as well.

"By making recycling easier for residents," he adds, "we are hoping to increase Ayer's recycling numbers, which will save us money, and decrease our tonnage of municipal solid waste (trash), which will also yield savings for the town."

The DPW is currently reviewing quotes from several vendors, but ultimately hopes to go with a single contractor for both recycled goods and MSW. Right now, Ayer's recycled goods are parceled out among several vendors, with trash going to a different company. The DPW's contract with its current MSW firm expires in June, which is part of the impetus behind the current planning effort.

"Uniting these processes under one vendor should ultimately reduce some of the administrative costs we are seeing now," says Nason.

For skeptics who might worry that zero-sort recycling on the residential end means items are not actually being recycled at all or not effectively, Nason offers reassurance. "The vendors' processes are very automated, but they are for-profit companies (selling to companies who use the recycled goods in their own products), so they make sure their sorting is thorough so that the end result can be sold for maximum value."

Stay tuned for updates as the July 1 changeover date approaches!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March/April 2010

Pick up, then party! On Saturday, April 10, you can show some Ayer pride and a little pre-Earth Day spirit by taking part in "A Cleaner Ayer," the third annual town cleanup day. Just stop down at Depot Square any time between 9 and 11:30 a.m. to register the area you'll be tackling and to get your gloves and bags. The pickup will wrap up at noon, but volunteers are also needed to help sort recyclables at the transfer station from 1 to 2 p.m.

Students take note: Participation in A Cleaner Ayer counts toward community service hours you need for graduation. Make sure to grab participation sheets when you stop at Depot Square for your bags and gloves.

Afterward, bring your favorite goodies and bask in the post-cleanup glow at an all-ages dance party and dessert potluck at Town Hall from 7 to 10 p.m., open to everyone, whether you took part in the a.m. cleanup efforts or not. Learn some new steps along with Donna Shea and Michael Quigley and the staff of DL Dance Enterprises or visit the kids' craft area. A perfect end to a perfect spring day.

For more info or to volunteer to help with sorting recyclables or setup/breakdown for the party, contact Laurie Sabol at 987-772-7858 or ayerrecycles@gmail.com.

Amping up the energy at Page-Hilltop -- Renewable energy, that is. Thanks to grant money from the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust Fund, kids at Page-Hilltop Elementary have been learning all about alternative power sources.

Laurie Nehring, president of People of Ayer Concerned about the Environment (PACE) and a former high-school science teacher, working closely with fifth grade teacher Ginny Egan and Principal Fred Deppe, has been leading an afterschool enrichment program for fourth and fifth graders. Says Laurie, "Each week, we do a small experiment about renewable energy, and then we go for a hike along a trail near the school. We look for signs of wildlife, signs of spring, and just enjoy being outside."

She adds, "The students are interested and smart and fun!" Their first week, they won Laurie's admiration by insisting on picking up a quantity of trash they came across during their hike. "These kids give me hope," she says.

Just getting underway is a renewable energy unit for all of Page-Hilltop's 5th graders. According to Laurie, the unit will start with a "Global Footprint" analysis, where students will analyze their energy use to see graphically how many earths their lifestyles require.

"We will then delve into four of the more common
renewable energy sources - solar, wind, geothermal and biomass," she says. "The major hands-on project will involve students working in design teams to develop plans for an energy-efficient, green building that could be used for the new Ayer-Shirley science wing."

The Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust Fund comes from an electric- bill surcharge we all pay toward promoting renewable energy. The funds are filtered back to communities to use for renewable energy projects or to educate community members on the benefits of greener energy sources. Both Page-Hilltop's current renewable energy programs -- along with materials and science kits which the school was able to purchase -- came from this fund, with the approval of the Ayer Board of Selectmen, who distribute the portion that comes back to our town.

Green goings on

People of Ayer Concerned about the Environment (PACE) meeting
-- Tuesday, March 23, Nashoba Park Assisted Living, 7 p.m.
Conservation Commission meetings -- Thursday, March 27, and Thursday, April 8,
Town Hall, 7 to 9 p.m.
Greenway Committee meeting
-- Saturday, March 27, Ayer Library, 10:30 a.m. to noon.
A Cleaner Ayer townwide cleanup -- April 10, kicking off from Depot Square, 9 a.m. to noon.
Worcester VegFest 2010 -- A festival celebrating the vegetarian lifestyle, with a variety of speakers and resources. Saturday, April 17, at the Student Center at Worcester State College, 486 Chandler Street, Worcester, noon to 5 p.m. For more info, visit http://vegworcester.com/festival/.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Grab your bags: Time for Consign My Closet's children's resale event, March 20-21 in Boxboro

Thanks to my neighbor Heidi Ottowitz for the tipoff on this one!

Baby on board? Baby on the way? Babies no longer babies? No babies at all, but love to shower goodies on the nieces, nephews, grandkids, etc.? Then circle March 20 and 21 on your calendar for
Consign My Closet's spring/summer children's consignment event at the Boxborough Holiday Inn.

Consign My Closet, which espouses "Greener living, one closet at a time," puts together resale events twice a year. For shoppers, it's a jackpot for brand-name maternity, infant and children's clothes (up through middle-school age); baby gear, sports equipment, toys and more.

For those seeking to pare down the kids' paraphernalia, it's a chance to give those items a new home and earn a few dollars. Consignors simply follow Consign My Closet's easy online process (which includes setting their own prices), drop off the goods and wait for their checks to come in.

In addition, volunteers who help Consign My Closet set up for and run the sale can earn a higher percentage of their consignment sales and, if they put in four hours or more before the sale, can shop the pre-sale event the night before the sale.

Good stuff, good deals and good for the planet...nice! Be sure to let me know if you go...I'd love a review of the event itself!