Know the Basic Rules of Recycling

By Elaine Simmons

If you stroll around the neighborhood on collection day, you will unfortunately see many blue recycling bins filled with items that will not be recycled. A major problem is that people put plastic bags full of plastic or metal containers directly in the bin. The County has made clear that any item in a plastic bag will be treated as trash. So if you collect your plastic and metal containers in a plastic bag, remove these items from the bag on collection day and place the items directly in your blue recycling bin. Then put the plastic bag in your trash can or reuse it as a trash bag. Never put plastic bags of any kind in your blue recycle bin.

This rule also applies to the County’s impressive new composting program, where you can place any food item in your green yard waste bin and it will be “cooked” and turned into loam. You can use the light green compostable bags to collect food waste or you can put food items directly in the bin. You can also collect food waste in a paper bag. Compostable bags and paper bags can go in your yard waste bin. Do not put plastic bags of any kind in your yard waste bin. You can buy compostable bags on-line or at the nearby MOM’s Organic Market on Lee Highway.

Finally, if you rake more leaves than your yard waste bin can hold, put the leaves in paper yard waste bags. This way the leaves will be turned into mulch. Do not collect leaves in plastic bags. The County provides free paper yard waste bags at various locations such as Thomas Jefferson Middle School. Home Depot and COSTCO sell paper yard waste bags.

The theme: limit use of plastic bags to collecting garbage. Environmentally speaking, the fewer plastic bags you use, the better.

A Community Conversation

On November 13th our community came together for an evening of history and storytelling that explored the racial covenants that were part of many Lyon Park land deeds when the neighborhood was founded one hundred years ago. Although the language varied, many of the deeds in Lyon Park (as well as other neighborhoods in Arlington) contained covenants prohibiting sale to people who were “not Caucasian”. We heard from Dr. Lindsey Bestsbreurtje, a curatorial assistant at the National Museum of African American History and Culture and author of the dissertation, “Built by the people themselves- African American community development in Arlington, Virginia, from the Civil War through Civil Rights.” She provided context of the political climate in Arlington, who Frank Lyon was, and described African American communities in Arlington at the time of Lyon Park’s founding. Veronica Dabney shared the story of how racial covenants affected her community. She was raised in Green Valley at a time when her family and neighbors would have been barred from buying a home in many neighborhoods in Arlington. In 1969, the year after the Fair Housing Act of 1968 outlawed racial covenants, Veronica purchased a home just beyond the fence that separated Green Valley from the rest of Arlington. Finally, we heard from Dr. Bev-Freda Jackson, an Adjunct Professorial Lecturer at American University’s School of Public Affairs; Department of Justice, Law and Criminology. She provided information about how historic patterns of discrimination are highly correlated with contemporary aspects of discriminatory practices, affecting the way that we live today.