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Bellerose business helps eliminate landfill clutter

Driving along Cross Island Parkway, the golden forsythia bells with their tender green leaves are often the first blooms to soften the stiff brown branches of winter. Planted en masse, as they often are, the sight can be breathtaking. The brown, gold and greens will soon have pink, white, lavender and blue hues added from nature’s amazing secret palette to create an ever-changing spring masterpiece for all to enjoy. We hope everyone will appreciate the artistry enough to resist despoiling it in any way.

As a volunteer with the Cornucopia Society, I can assure you that a large proportion of the public needs to be reminded that those who litter should receive stiff penalties. Whether you are walking or riding, please keep trash or garbage with you and dispose of it properly, preferably at home. Equally important for the sake of all concerned is to watch where you are going be aware of your surroundings. We want you and everyone else to stay safe.

One of the things we sometimes find during cleanups are little bits of polystyrene loose-fill used in packing, known as “peanuts.” These are extremely lightweight and almost seem to take on a life of their own when someone opens a box containing them. It is probably static electricity that makes them leap from their encasement even at the slightest opening of the lid and cling to any available portion of skin, clothing or whatever else as if it were trying to save its own life.

Outside it is incorrigible. But hope and help are here, thanks to an item found in one of my sister’s “Current” catalogs, in which it is noted that the peanuts used for packing comply with the most recent Environmental Protection Agency requirements in that they are free of halogenated chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs.

I called the Plastic Loose-Fill Producers Council at 1-800-828-2214 and discovered that if anyone doesn’t want to reuse them, instead of adding to the landfill, they can be donated to Minute Man Press at 248-14 Union Turnpike in Bellerose instead of being added to the landfill. The Minute Man Press can be reached at 718-343-5440.

As a reward for doing that good deed, you could visit the business next door, a fun place called Jerry’s Artarama that can be reached at 718-343-0777. Maybe going to Jerry’s will inspire you to paint your own masterpiece. That store has a lot of interesting items.

Another worthy recycling project relates to soda bottles. When I first learned what happens to plastic bottles when they’re recycled, I was absolutely amazed. They are chopped up, melted and, at least in some cases, spun into thread and made into some really beautiful, easy-to-care-for fabrics. One type is called Thinsulate, which is soft, lightweight and toasty warm. It washes well, either by hand or machine, dries quickly and wrinkle-free and holds light, dark and bright colors very well.

I have several articles of clothing made with it — jackets, gloves, a scarf and a head band, and all are wearing well. I have also seen very beautiful carpets made out of old plastic bottles. It is reported to be long-lasting, easy to clean and no more expensive than other carpets.

Since this column began in a spring garden, let’s go back there to recycle. When you pick up that pile of leaves, put them in a bought compost bin or stake out a spot in your garden and surround the area with some kind of wire mesh. Chicken wire works good enough. Spread the leaves inside the wire enclosure to keep them from escaping on a windy day, and then cover that layer with a layer of soil and water.

You can also add vegetable food scraps other than potato, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. Turn over the pile of leaves and scraps about once a week, keeping it moist. By the end of the summer you should have something gardeners call “black gold,” otherwise known as the “food your garden loves most — compost.” Enjoy all seasons. Help save the Earth and your money.

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