Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Waste as Resource: You can help turn trash from pejorative to positive.

What comes to mind when you hear the word trash? What about waste?  

For some, waste is excess. For others, waste is an end product. It’s the “stuff” leftover and no longer useful. In most cases, the implications are negative. But what if the opposite was also true? What if waste offered opportunities to positively impact our community?

LCSWMA works toward this end every day, taking something that people once viewed as worthless and using it to improve Lancaster and Dauphin counties. We view waste as a resource for making great things happen in our community. Here are a few examples of how waste is used to positively impact Harrisburg:

  • The trash from Harrisburg and surrounding Dauphin County is burned at the Susquehanna Resource Management Complex (SRMC) on S. 19th Street and transformed into renewable energy (electricity) to power state Capitol buildings.
  • Harrisburg receives a host fee of $1/ton of waste delivered to the SRMC. Over the last 3½ years, this equates to $963,785 paid to the Harrisburg Environmental Advisory Council (EAC). The EAC helps Harrisburg and its residents work together to create a natural and built environment that is both healthy and sustainable.
  • The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) receives $4/ton of municipal solid waste for its “Growing Greener” program. DEP allocates grant funding from this program to local communities for such efforts as cleaning up abandoned mines, restoring and protecting watersheds, building recreational trails and local parks, helping communities address land use and much more.

These are just a few of the countless ways waste can be used as a resource. I invite Harrisburg residents and businesses to consider all the ways waste impacts your lives, and what you can do to help make it a resource for the capital city.  

Here are some programs offered throughout Harrisburg that promote litter abatement, sustainability and beautification. By investing in these worthy causes, you are helping to make Harrisburg a cleaner and safer place for everyone to live, work and play.

  • Even if you have just two minutes to spare, you can make a big impact. That’s the philosophy behind “2Minute Tuesday,” a program for Harrisburg residents and businesses to help fight litter. Commit to spending two minutes every Tuesday to pick up trash, pull weeds or sweep the sidewalk outside your home or business.  Post your progress online using the hashtag #2MinTuesday, and encourage those around you to join the cause too.
  • For only $10, residents can help fight urban blight and grow fresh food for their families by partnering with the Green Urban Initiative (GUI), a non-profit organization dedicated to implementing sustainable living practices in Harrisburg, especially through small-scale neighborhood gardens. The organization provides construction materials, tools, seeds and gardening tips, while residents rent a garden plot for the season and supply the maintenance and care. GUI operates five community gardens throughout the city. Call 717-831-8872 to reserve your garden plot for the 2017 season.
  • Join residents, businesses and other community organizations during the “5th Annual Great Harrisburg Cleanup,” happening Saturday, April 22. This citywide effort aims to raise awareness about the negative effects of litter, as well as clean up Harrisburg’s streets, alleyways and public spaces. To get more information or volunteer, call Tri-County Community Action at 717-232-9757. You can also register your own cleanup event by visiting Registered events receive free supplies such as trash bags and gloves.
  • Bring art out of galleries and onto the streets by supporting Sprocket Mural Works.  With a mission to increase neighborhood pride and civic engagement in Harrisburg through creative action, Sprocket Mural Works fights blight by adding color to city buildings. Help revitalize Harrisburg through art by making a monetary donation, volunteering as an artist or contributing your wall or building. Email for more information.
  • Bike one of the nation’s oldest greenways on Sunday, June 4, during the Tour de Belt, which raises money for the upkeep of Harrisburg’s 20-mile recreational trail, the Capital Area Greenbelt.  The trail provides access to green space for all capital region residents, and includes scenic parks, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and Five Senses Garden. Call 717-921-4733 to volunteer time, supplies or monetary resources to help with the maintenance and upkeep of the trail.

Kathryn J. Sandoe is the communications manager for the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, a community publisher of TheBurg.

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