Somerville works on reducing waste

Posted June 15, 2010 10:04 AM

By Danielle Dreilinger, Globe correspondent

Shudder at the mess produced by your average dinner party? Think about the Taste of Somerville event June 8, which drew about 750 guests, according to the Somerville Chamber of Commerce.

But about 35 Somerville Climate Action volunteers, spearheaded by Maureen Barillaro, managed to reduce what would’ve been 45-50 bags of trash to only eight through assiduous sorting, recycling, and composting on-site.

According to a Climate Action announcement, the volunteers sorted five carts of recyclables plus over seven carts of compostable waste. They completely filled the Holiday Inn’s cardboard dumpster. They also reduced trash up front by asking the bar to use glasses instead of disposable cups, and by reminding food vendors that they didn’t really need to offer to-go gunk like plastic lids.

It could be somewhat easier to be green in Somerville, though. At the June 10 Board of Aldermen meeting, Alderwoman Rebekah Gewirtz gave an update on attempts to provide centralized composting facilities for city residents. The Department of Public Works doesn’t have room in its yard for containers, she said, and people had raised concern about rodents.

The city is looking into providing day-of composting bins at farmers’ markets – ideal for dumping those inedible garlic stalks and other such roughage. As for private options, the teen-run SoilCycle weekly compost pickup service, part of Groundwork Somerville, recently expanded its capacity. However, it can still handle only a limited number of households, in part due to … limited space in the city for compost barrels.

Additional green activities are sprouting this summer. Somerville Climate Week runs from June 22 to 27 and includes the Living Green Festival/Festival Vivir Verde, an evening of food, activities, and resources to promote sustainable living, energy efficiency, and environmental cleanup. July 25 is the annual Somerville Garden Club tour, focusing this year on “incredible, edible” gardens.

For more information, visit somervillegardenclub.org and somervilleclimateaction.org.