Monday, August 25, 2008

Field Trip on Frederick Rd.

Ron and I had an errand in Gaithersburg this morning (something about flying kitchen drawers needing repair), and drove past the county's waste recycling center. So on the way back we stopped in. Ron had seen an article in the Washington Post (KidsPost page), and thought it might be interesting.

It is! As you enter the driveway into the facility, there is a parking lot on the right in front of the Recycling Center where you can park. (Otherwise, you drive all around the facility and the waste transfer facility.) The center has an information room that tells you all about the county's recycling efforts. It also gives an overview of the recycling activities in the center.

After we read the information in the information center, we walked upstairs (be sure to get your earplugs!), and walked out on a mezzanine above the facility floor. From the mezzanine, we could see the various sorting activities, trucks bringing recycled goods into the center, and trucks taking recycled paper out of the facility. We arrived during lunch break, so we got to see all the workers get to their positions, then the machinery start up. It's an amazing collection of conveyor belts, bins, and exciting activity. Any guy who likes gears, belts, machines, and dirt will love this place.

The work looks like it's grimy and monotinous. I appreciate the employees (I think the center has about 30 people working on a shift), because they take care of the recycled waste of a million people, and the workers do it every day.

The visit is also eye-opening, because of the amount of waste that county residents generate. The visit reminds me (yes, this is a civics lesson) that I need to be cognizant of my purchases, and my habits. Some tips: the county now accepts more plastic items than it used to, including margarine tubs and lids. Also, you can recycle steel cans and their lids. Empty plastic drink bottles before putting them in the recycly bin (the extra weight sometimes gets them dumped on the wrong conveyor belt). Finally, quit using the plastic bags offered to you. Take some reusable bags the next time you go shopping.