Becoming Mighty Mouse…and how not to recycle TVs

TVs and electronics are not accepted for trash pick-up and can be recycled, but please don’t leave them like this at the 24-hour drop off sites:

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Two of the THREE TVs left at the Kentland recycling site.

When a person dumps their TV, instead of taking it to the Newton County Highway Department (anytime during their operating hours!), I have the privilege of picking up and hauling the items. These are not your newest flat screens, they’re not tiny kitchen TVs, they’re the BIG, heavy, cLUnKY¬†electronics that take two people to maneuver. But there is only one of me, so I have to be clever. I have to become Might Mouse, or Mighty Sara as Big Iron likes to call me. Mighty Sara is a waaaaaayyyyy better nickname than trash lady.

I like to think that I’m fairly competent when it comes to strength. There are no Iron Man competitions in my future, and I don’t bench press EVERY day (or ever), but I can haul a 50 lb bag of feed without injuring myself or others. These electronics, however are beyond my 50 lb max. I didn’t grab a scale, but it was difficult to even lift them a few inches, let alone a couple of feet into the bed of my vehicle. Somehow I got this TV here though:

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It’s a simple method of props and leverage. The props are…whatever I can find. I was blessed to find tires at a different site. I had not one, but two¬†tires to use to prop the TV up off the ground with. The extra two inches of space between the ground and the TV is crucial. It allows you to pull/lift the TV up while also tipping it forward to turn it (or roll it) on it’s side. The other key element is a nifty recycling bin, strategically placed so as to provide an additional step up so the electronic can be propped up and further lifted into the vehicle. Success!

Sometimes the smallest victories feel the best.

Lesson of the day: Don’t leave your ginormous electronics at the drop off sites, take them to the Highway Garage. Contact¬†the recycling director 219-863-0703, recycling@newtoncounty.in.gov. If you cannot make it during their operating hours. I will come help you! Because lifting these TVs can be difficult and when they are left at the sites they can easily be broken which causes a hazard for other residents. Electronics contain heavy metals and other substances which can be dangerous, this is why they are not usually accepted at Municipal Solid Waste landfills.

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America Recycles Day

If you were unable to attend the Greening Your Bottom Line event in Rensselaer today, you missed out. Organized by the Northwest Indiana Solid Waste District (of which Newton is a member) the event featured exhibitors, energy experts, and local leaders in sustainable manufacturing. There was also an amazing organic lunch by Sprigz in Rensselaer (can’t forget the delicious food!)

Sometimes surprises like this non-recyclable foam deer await, and scare the crap out of me at the bins

Because of my background in Environmental Science, many of the speaking points were already familiar to me, but it has been way way way too long since I have had the opportunity to discuss environmental issues and solutions…with really anyone. So today, for me, was like diving into a deep lake in the middle of August. It was a shock, but so refreshing and invigorating that I didn’t want to leave.

You see, I love my job. There are so many things I want to improve on and expand on, but sometimes you just get bogged down in all the crap (literally). It’s hard to focus on new projects and ideas when you’ve just finished yelling at someone for trying to dump their: couch, deer decoy, diapers, etc (believe me it does happen). But now I’m refreshed, which is great because the holidays are coming and that means the recycling bins will be overwhelmed with leftover holiday cheer (boxes, wrapping paper, packaging material, etc). So I thought I should share my list of what I want to work on. Maybe this will keep me motivated.

Greening Newton County

One of the great things about an event like this one, is the sense of collaboration. It doesn’t matter what town or county you live in, what industry or segment your from. Let’s just get together and talk about ideas and solutions because sustainability and economic and social development are intertwined and so are we in our small rural communities. We are more connected than large cities, let’s use that to our advantage. Let’s have a group focused on Greening Newton County, for businesses, for residents, for local government.

Energy Audit for Municipalities and Local Businesses

The money that can be saved through an energy audit is amazing. Perhaps local governments and businesses have already done this, but if not, it would be great to bring in our local utility for an audit and also highlight some education.

Eco Friendly Buying Practices

I would love to have something on paper that states a government or business’s intention to buy environmentally friendly products when possible. If we don’t purchase recycled material or refuse wasteful material, then we are not completing the life cycle of a material.

Help me stay positive and motivated so I can get through the crap and maybe, just maybe, make Newton County a few shades greener. I’ll stay hopeful until the next person comes by with a couch