In The Loop

Welcome to the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority's Blog

Entries Tagged as Green Tips

Going Green in the New Year

December 20, 2018 ·

Each new year comes with a promise of a fresh start, new experiences and for some, resolutions. It’s not too late to resolve to go green in 2019! Here are some simple and easy resolutions that contribute to a healthier planet.

Plastic Water Bottles: Ditch Them!
Buying bottled water not only costs money, but also generates plastic waste. In fact, enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the Earth four times. Instead, invest in an at-home filtering pitcher or a reusable bottle made from aluminum, glass or recycled plastic.

Reusable Bags: A Must Have
Plastic bags are a huge drain on the environment, taking 15 to 1,000 years to decompose. Only 2% of bags are recycled each year, and the rest are sent to landfills or make their way to pollute our oceans. Next time you make a trip to the grocery story, consider using a reusable bag. Washable and sturdy, reusable bags make shopping trips more convenient and ecofriendly.

Cut Back on Paper Towels
Did you know 13 billion pounds of paper towels end up in landfills every day? Investing in a few cotton cloths and some fabric napkins can help reduce paper waste significantly. When the fabric napkins get dirty, just run them through the laundry. Cloth alternatives are not only less wasteful, but more economical.

Switch to Rechargeable Batteries
According to the EPA, Americans throw away more than 3 billion batteries every year. Many of these batteries will end up in landfills, taking up land as a precious resource. Make the switch to rechargeable batteries. This will decrease your battery consumption to a fraction it was before, saving you money, and producing less waste.

If the holidays have left you with a pile of old batteries you don’t know what to do with, LCSWMA offers free battery bags to Lancaster County residents. Place the bag next to your garbage can, or deliver it to our Household Hazardous Waste Facility on Harrisburg Pike for free disposal. To request bags or for more information, email us at

Proper Disposal of Waste
When it comes to disposal, not all waste is the same. For instance, paint and electronics should not be placed in your trash can. Household hazardous waste (HHW) should be delivered to LCSWMA’s HHW Facility, free to Lancaster County residents. For a complete list of materials accepted at the HHW Facility, view our Resident’s Guide.

Tags: Green Tips · Recycling

FREE Home Compost Workshops

April 07, 2017 ·

The Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA) is partnering with local municipalities, community organizations and Penn State Master Gardeners of Lancaster County to conduct FREE home compost workshops for residents, where individuals can learn how to recycle organic waste from their kitchens and gardens instead of putting it in the trash.

Composting is an excellent way to recycle vegetable scraps, grass clippings, leaves and other organics, turning those materials into a useful and valuable product to naturally improve the soil. Workshop attendees will also learn how to build effective, yet inexpensive home compost bins to meet their needs.  Each household attending a compost workshop can enter a drawing to receive a free kitchen scrap collection bucket courtesy of LCSWMA.

Lancaster County residents are invited to attend any of the home compost workshops scheduled for this year at no cost.  Residents are asked to pre-register by noon on the Friday prior to the workshop they’ll be attending.  The following lists dates and specific details for each workshop:

April 19 at the City of Lancaster Recycling Facility located at 850 New Holland Avenue, Lancaster.  The workshop is from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.  To pre-register or for more information, contact the City of Lancaster Solid Waste and Recycling Manager at (717) 291-4762 or email

May 20 at the East Donegal Township Municipal Building located at 190 Rock Point Road, Marietta.  The workshop is from 10:00 am to 11:00 am.  To pre-register or for more information, contact the East Donegal Township Recycling Coordinator at (717) 426-3167 or email

June 7 at the Chiques Creek Alliance Watershed Expo at the Manheim Farm Show Complex, 502 East Adele Avenue, Manheim.  The workshop is from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm.  For more information, email  Pre-registration is not necessary.  This family event includes presenters from the Lancaster Environmental Center, Lancaster Conservation District, native plant nurseries, PA Fish and Boat Commission, Lancaster Farmland Trust, Lancaster Conservancy and others.

Tags: Community Events · Green Tips · Recycling

Christmas Tree Recycling

December 22, 2016 ·

The following are some suggested Christmas tree drop-off locations for individual residents, haulers, businesses and municipalities. All trees and woody materials must be contaminant-free. No tree stands or plastic (including bags), wire, ornaments, lights, tinsel or other decorations may remain on the trees.

1. Lancaster County Central Park – main entrance located along Chesapeake Street, Lancaster. Call the Park Office at 299-8215 for information and instructions. Trees may be dropped off daily from December 26 through January 31 during regular park hours. Mulch will be available to the public beginning January 4 until January 31. A $1.00/tree donation is requested and appreciated to support park programs. Not for commercial collection.

2. Martin Mulch Products – located at 55 Woodcrest Drive, Ephrata. Call 733-1602 with questions. Trees may be dropped off Monday through Saturday between dawn and dusk. Single trees are $2.00 each; the price varies for larger deliveries.

3. Zeager Brothers – located at 4000 East Harrisburg Pike, Middletown. Call 944-7481 with questions. Trees may be dropped off Monday through Friday between 6 am and 5 pm. No charge. Zeager Brothers will be closed for business on December 25 and January 1

Some municipalities offer curbside collection of trees through their contract program; other municipalities offer drop-off locations for residents. Residents are encouraged to contact their municipal office for specific information about programs in their community.

Check for additional information and locations to recycle Christmas trees.

For a complete list of municipal Christmas tree recycling programs, click here.

Tags: Green Tips · Recycling

Giving Green for the Holidays

December 15, 2016 ·

There is nothing like the special moment when a loved one finally opens the gift you’ve thoughtfully picked just for them. This year, why not give them a gift that will make a lasting and sustainable impact?

Here are some tips for giving green this holiday season:

Sustainable Wrapping.
Did you know if every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields? Unwrapping gifts is an important part of the gift-giving experience, but it often results in a significant amount of waste. Instead of purchasing new wrapping materials, consider more sustainable and creative ways to surprise your loved ones. Upcycle old maps, newspapers and other print products to wrap gifts.

Natural and Homemade Gifts.
From a plant to something edible, natural gifts are easily recycled or consumed, and have a much smaller carbon footprint.

If you want your gift to be extra special, make it! Handmade items can be more meaningful and cost-effective. Check out these easy handmade gift ideas for inspiration.

The Gift of Experience.
The holidays don’t have to be all about physical gifts. Give loved ones the gift of your time with an experience – volunteer, take a cooking class or see a movie together. Need some ideas? Here are fun ways to give experiences instead of stuff.

Tags: Green Tips · Waste Matters

Dining Green for the Holidays

December 15, 2016 ·

​While the holiday season often means splurging, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate without being wasteful. Many of us will spend lots of time with friends and family around the dinner table, where perhaps the most excess waste occurs. Here are some tips to help you enjoy holiday meals with loved ones, and make sustainable choices.

Setting the Table.
Though it’s tempting to go with the convenience of disposable products, they aren’t always eco-friendly. Instead, stick with reusable dinnerware and table linens. Expecting a large crowd and afraid you’ll run out of dinnerware? You don’t have to break the bank - purchase a fun and eclectic mix of plates, cups and silverware at a flea market or garage sale. Going green for the holidays can be fun too. Check out these reusable napkin folding ideas that are sure to impress.

Think Local.
Much of your holiday meal can be purchased locally thanks to local growers. Beans, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, eggplants, onions, mushrooms, potatoes and squash are all produce that can be bought locally during the winter months. Not only does locally grown food put money back into your community, it also reduces your food’s carbon footprint because many grocery stores ship from across the country and overseas. Local farmer’s markets are a good place to start.

Eliminate Food Waste.
Americans throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than any other time of year, and food waste makes up about 21% of what is discarded.

The first step to reducing holiday food waste is determining how much you’ll need to feed your guests. Keep these “rules of thumb” in mind while planning for your event.

If you still have leftovers despite your efforts, don’t fret. Send them home with guests. Encourage guests to bring reusable containers to dinner so they’re prepared to take food home when the festivities end.

​Composting is another easy way to eliminate holiday food waste. New to composting? Learn more here.

Tags: Green Tips · Recycling · Waste Matters

5 Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste

September 27, 2016 ·

An astonishing 30-40 percent of food supplied in the United States goes to waste,[i] and up to 95 percent of that food waste across the country ends up in the landfill[ii]. Food waste is costly, and a burden on our environment, but it’s largely preventable.

Here are five easy ways to reduce food waste and help contribute to a more sustainable future:

TAKE LEFTOVERS. Our favorite restaurants provide much-needed relief for the sometimes cumbersome task of cooking. However, we’re often left full before finishing the heaping plate of pasta, and the rest is tossed. Next time, consider asking your waiter or waitress for a box, and taking your leftovers to work for lunch the next day. Or better yet, bring a reusable container with you on your evening out to pack those leftovers. This not only reduces waste, but saves you from rushing to pack your lunch.

SHARE FOOD. As the old adage goes, “sharing is caring.” Some individuals, who care deeply about the environment and eliminating food waste, have taken this saying to the next level. OLIO, a free food-sharing app, connects neighbors to each other so that surplus food can be shared instead of thrown away. This innovative approach to food sharing hasn’t made its way to the U.S., but the concept can be applied at the local level. Form a network of friends or neighbors to connect with via social media networks or in person. Start a food sharing group for the next time you need a cup of sugar or an egg for your famous chocolate cake. You can deliver a slice of cake later to say thank you.

GET CREATIVE. In a hurry, you picked up the family-size can of diced tomatoes instead of the 14.5-ounce can the recipe calls for. Rather than tossing the unused tomatoes, use them for a scrumptious soup the next day. Here are dozens of recipes for more food-saving ideas.

CUT DOWN RECIPES. Recipes are wonderful, often saving us time and the headache of trial and error. But many recipes are seemingly designed for large families, and knowing how to pair the ingredients down for your table of one or two can be overwhelming. Check out this helpful chart for cutting down recipes and food waste.

BUY AS YOU GO. Fresh produce is great for your health, but spoils easily. The best way to cut down on perishable food waste, is to buy as you go. On your weekly shopping trip, only purchase the items you need. Read on for some more tips on reducing produce spoilage.

For more tips on reducing food waste, click here.  

[i] United States Department of Agriculture 
[ii] Environmental Protection Agency

Tags: Green Tips

Sustainable Living Tips for On and Off Campus

August 15, 2016 ·

Every year college students exit residence halls and enter campus communities across the country. Although adjusting to college life can be difficult, continuing sustainable living practices doesn't have to be.

Whether you are a student or know someone who is, here's a look at a typical school routine. These environmental tips can be practiced on and off campus:

  • A morning cup of coffee is crucial for many people. Places like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts offer discounts to customers who bring their own reusable coffee cups. To reduce waste while making coffee at home or in a dorm, try a reusable K-cup coffee filter for your Keurig. The filter uses ground coffee instead of individual pods.

  • Whenever you can, save paper by taking electronic notes. Also, avoid printing the syllabi or assignment sheets when possible, as they are usually accessible online. Other paper-saving tips include: printing double-sided and reducing margins to fit more text per page.

  • A great way to reduce energy consumption on campus is to head outside and utilize natural light. Grab a blanket and study outdoors or read next to a window instead of under a lamp. Consider turning the lights off in your dorm room whenever you aren't there.

  • Combat the mid-afternoon slump with a snack. Pack yours in reusable containers and buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste. At mealtime, help offset the estimated 70 billion pounds of food waste generated in the U.S. annually by only taking food you will eat.

  • Before bed, unplug electronic devices to decrease energy usage, as many appliances/electronics use a small amount of energy even when powered off. Use a power strip for your electronics, so you only have one thing to unplug each night.

For information on green initiatives happening on your campus, contact your college's Office of Sustainability.

Tags: Green Tips

Eco-Friendly College Prep

August 05, 2016 ·

This post was written by LCSWMA’s summer communications intern, Karissa. She will be a sophomore at Emory University this fall.

By this point in the summer, many high school grads are thinking about their move to college. Transitioning to university life can be intimidating and scary. One aspect on students’ minds is how to adjust to dorm living, and how to make a 12x12 foot room feel like home. It’s comforting to know, however, amidst the unknowns of moving to college, how to decorate your dorm room is something you have absolute control over.

The first piece of advice I share with incoming students is to pack light. You may find five matching throw pillows that flawlessly compliment your comforter, but most of the time those pillows will end up on the floor. Pack the essentials first and wait until you arrive in your new space to buy the rest.

If you find yourself in desperate need of something, find a ride (most likely your university will provide shuttles) to a store and stock up after you know what you need.

Designing a space that is all yours is exciting. Here are some of my favorite tips, tricks and secrets to designing a cozy and eco-friendly space:

1.Organize for Sanity
I’ve found being organized helps keep my sanity during exam weeks. Desk organizers are easy to make and inexpensive, plus you probably have all the materials. Eco Bonus: Reuse honey jars, cans and other containers for this project. Check it out here.

2.Decorate for Inspiration
Dorm walls are notoriously ugly and plain. Fortunately, Pinterest is a great resource for creative inspiration including a multitude of ideas for personalizing those four walls. One of my favorite Pinterest finds is decorating with tissue-paper garland. Eco Bonus: I made one of these for my dorm last year using left-over tissue paper from the holidays. I saved extra wrapping and transformed it into a free, eco-friendly and adorable decoration instead of throwing it away.

3.Get Crafty
Fall in love with mason jars. They are versatile and can hold snacks, drinks, pens, plants, candles, or just about anything you’d like. Eco Bonus: Mason jars easily replace plastic or paper cups and bowls, reducing unnecessary waste. Also, there are countless ways to paint or decorate mason jars if you’re planning to display them. Check out this article for great crafting ideas.

4.Create a Living Space
Plants add an organic element to spaces, which makes a big difference in lifeless dorms. I personally love succulents. Although they do need sunlight, they hardly need to be watered and can survive in any container, like this adorable coffee pot terrarium. Eco Bonus: I know you’ve got your eye on a new Keurig, so why not upcycle that old coffee pot instead of trashing it? “Upcycling” is when you transform items that would otherwise be garbage into something new. It’s a great way to reuse items not otherwise “recyclable.”

5.Look Up
Dorms have limited floor space for dressers and organizers, so consider ways you can use vertical space in your room for decoration or storage. Eco Bonus: If you’re feeling handy, check out this DIY rope shelf. It’s chic and can be made out of materials you have at home.

6.Make it Social
Instead of purchasing new items, host a clothing swap party to trade items you don’t wear anymore. Eco Bonus: According to the EPA, approximately 11 million tons of old clothing and textiles end up in U.S. landfills each year — nearly all of which can be reused or recycled. If you still have items left over, donate instead of trashing them.

I hope these tips inspire you to incorporate stylish yet sustainable ideas into your dorm décor. If your college days are in the past, these tips work well for offices or other small spaces too.

Tags: Green Tips

Your Top Disposal Questions Answered

July 12, 2016 ·

Summer signifies the end of spring cleaning, meaning items purged from cabinets, closets and cupboards need to go somewhere. However, it can be tricky to know if an item should be recycled, thrown out with regular trash or taken to a special location for disposal. 

Read on for the answers to the top five disposal questions LCSWMA receives, and find out how to properly dispose of common household items.

Where can I dispose of my television?

Lancaster County residents can dispose of televisions for free at LCSWMA’s Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Facility located at 1299 Harrisburg Pike, Lancaster. Customers can bring a total of 10 televisions to the facility per day.

What should I do with my box spring and mattress?

If the item is six feet or longer, it must go to the Frey Farm Landfill for disposal. Otherwise, any LCSWMA facility will take a box spring and mattress for a cost of $15 per item.

Is my microwave considered household hazardous waste?

Microwaves are not considered household hazardous waste and can be disposed of for $10 at any LCSWMA facility.

How do I dispose of a propane tank?

Small propane tanks like those used for camp stoves or lanterns, can be placed in your regular trash for disposal. Large propane tanks, empty or full, are accepted for free disposal at LCSWMA’s Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Facility located at 1299 Harrisburg Pike, Lancaster.  

What should I do with leftover paint?

Lancaster County residents can dispose of leftover latex or oil-based paint at LCSWMA’s Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Facility located at 1299 Harrisburg Pike, Lancaster. If the paint can is empty or the paint has dried out, the can is considered trash and can be placed out for collection. 

For more information or specfic quesitons about waste disposal, contact your hauler.



Tags: Green Tips · HHW

Turn the Tide on Trash

July 08, 2016 ·

A trip to the beach is a great way to relax, rejuvenate and surround yourself with the beauty of nature.

Unfortunately, the natural beauty of the beach is often disturbed by the presence of litter. In fact, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), approximately 1.4 billion pounds of trash ends up in our oceans each year. This also impacts the health of aquatic ecosystems, including marine animals.

Help keep the sand and surf at your favorite beach clean by utilizing these tips:

Snack the Smart Way

Instead of reaching for a plastic bottle from the snack stand when you get thirsty, consider packing a stainless steel bottle. Not only will this type of container keep your drink extra cold, but it’s reusable too.  Speaking of keeping cool, trade in your Styrofoam cooler for a reusable one to prevent pieces of Styrofoam from breaking off and ending up in the water.

When packing snacks, buy in bulk from the grocery store to avoid packaging waste and store in reusable containers such as mason jars or reusable snack bags. Another option is to make your own snacks that don’t require any type of wrapping or packaging like fruit leather, popsicles or granola bars.

Choose a Safer Sunscreen

Sunscreen is essential for outdoor summer fun, but when sunscreen washes off in the ocean, it can leave chemical residue behind that is harmful to marine life, especially coral reefs. Find the best sunscreen options here and don’t forget to recycle your empty sunscreen bottle.

Leave the Beach in the Same Condition You Found it or Better

A large portion of marine trash is created by beachgoers. Some of the most commonly littered items at the beach include cigarettes, food wrappers/containers and plastic beverage bottles.

Any items left on the beach can be blown into the ocean, picked up by waves or washed into the water when it rains. Make sure to not leave anything behind. Pack up all beach toys and use designated receptacles to dispose of trash and recyclables. If you fish, be sure to properly dispose of fishing line and nets, which can entangle, injure and drown marine wildlife.

Have fun this summer and help protect our precious oceans and waterways. For information on how you can help our local gateway to the ocean, the Chesapeake Bay, click here

Tags: Green Tips · Litter Abatement