Saturday, December 28, 2002

Holiday cleanup begins

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Garbage bags filled with torn wrapping paper, empty boxes and outdated gifts from Christmases past have piled up along streets across the Tristate this week.

  Christmas tree needles and branches should not be put into a fireplace or wood-burning stove. Tristate drop-off spots include:
• 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Jan. 4 and 11: Rumpke, 3800 Struble Road, Colerain Township; Kuliga Park 6717 Bridgetown Road in Green Township; Evans Landscaping at 3700 Round Bottom Road, Newtown .
• 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays: NPK Compost Farm, 8968 E. Miami River Road, Colerain Township.
• 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 4: Kemper Meadow Park, Forest Park. Bring boxes or bags because the recycled trees will be made into mulch for residents after noon.
• Weekdays through end of January; daylight hours; Waterwork Park in Fairfield.
• Jan. 11: drop-off locations at Flick's Burlington until 10 a.m.; Old Florence City Building off U.S. 42 until noon; Ryle High School in Union until 2 p.m., and Walton Park before 4 p.m.
Take the Schmidts in Mason, where their three children ages 5-9 had a holiday filled with clothes, Barbie dolls and Spider-man web blasters that shoot silly string. Add all the packaging and boxes that came with it, as well as that of extended family who were visiting, and that's a lot of trash.

"We try to reuse the boxes, but if one set has survived its second season, it's usually gone," said Christie Schmidt, whose five lawn-and-leaf bags of gift wrap were picked up Friday. "We seem to have a lot more trash than any of our neighbors. I'm sure we give the garbage men a hernia every time they come to our house."

The two weeks after Christmas are one of the busiest times of year for Greater Cincinnati's waste management. While corporate waste declines, residential waste jumps by 30 percent, Rumpke spokeswoman Amanda Wilson said.

The crowded curbsides also provide signs of the season's hottest toys. Local haulers are seeing plenty of boxes from X-box games, computer games, Barbie dolls and electronic cars.

They've also spotted several McDonald's play food sets, big screen television boxes and old computers.

"I had a bunch of weightlifting equipment I had to leave on the curb because it wasn't broken down enough," said Rumpke's Paul Rosselot, who collects waste in Colerain Township. "The steel on the squat rack was thicker than the steel in the hopper, which you throw it into."

Many waste collectors saw a smaller load than in years past, said Mr. Rosselot, who's been in the business for 11 years. He attributes that to fewer large boxes than usual.

Rumpke employees typically work up to 60 hours a week to keep up with the post-holiday cleanup, and the company hires holiday help to assist on runs, Ms. Wilson said.

There's also more help at the landfill, including people to run after the gift wrap and shopping bags that have blown against the 40-foot high fence, she said.

The landfills typically start seeing signs of the holidays shortly after Thanksgiving, when people start decorating their homes and lawns and find holiday gear that is worn out or broken.

"We tossed out ones that we had forever earlier this month: old garland and lights that only half the strand worked," Mrs. Schmidt said.


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