Thursday, April 29, 2010

5 Programs for Improving Local Waste Recycling

Article From

By: Jane Hodges
Published: February 02, 2010

Unique waste recycling programs help save tax dollars by diverting trash from the landfill and into the recycling stream.

Recycling waste helps communities decrease the need for landfills, reduces pollution, and can raise a city's profile as a "green" place to live. A good waste recycling program indirectly influences home values and community wealth because cities that succeed at recycling spend less on trash disposal, leaving more money for other needs such as schools, parks, and police. Want to encourage local government to improve recycling options in your community? Consider advocating for one of these five novel recycling programs:

RecycleBank( partners with cities, haulers, and merchants to reward consumers. The program provides homeowners with bar-coded recycling receptacles that haulers weigh and scan at pick-up. Homeowners earn points for each pound recycled, and redeem points for discounts at local stores.

The company says rewards average $15 to $20 per month at local grocery stores, or run higher for other purchases (such as 10% off jewelry or electronics). In Ivyland, Pa., average monthly recycling under RecycleBank grew to 34 pounds from 17 pounds per household.
The downside: While about 250 cities have the program, and in a tight economy, your local leaders may hesitate to pay upfront costs. Philadelphia used a federal grant to launch its RecycleBank program.

To motivate recycling, some cities offer Pay as You Throw( garbage billing, where consumers pay for garbage by weight rather than by flat fee. Homeowners who recycle and compost more throw less into garbage and therefore pay less for garbage service.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says Pay as You Throw saved San Jose, Calif., $4 million annually. A Duke University study found Pay as You Throw increases recycling participation by 32% to 59%, depending on a city's recycling levels at launch. The downside: Illegal dumping rose in some cities using these programs, so encourage local government
to establish new (or higher) dumping penalties when they launch Pay as You Throw.

When cities let consumers throw all recyclables-cans, paper, bottles, and some plastics-into one bin, recycling is easier. When it's easier to recycle, more people do it. Called "single stream" recycling, it increased recycling in Madison, Wis., 25% the year it was implemented, and the city's net recycling cost per household dropped by about $1.
The downside: It costs money to adjust existing recycling infrastructure and to add city staff to sort recycled items. The upfront costs may be recouped if residents recycle more.

Cities are replacing their own trash cans with BigBelly( solar-powered trash compactors to reduce the drive-around time required by waste haulers. The BigBelly uses solar power to compact the trash and wireless technology to notify haulers when the compactor is full. That reduces the number of times haulers must come to collect from a particular trash can and increases the amount of garbage going into the can before it's filled.
Philadelphia officials estimate the 500 BigBelly cans they're deploying will lower the city's garbage collection costs by $850,000 during the first year of use. The downside: Your town's elected official may hesitate to install BigBelly products because the cans are expensive. Cities may also need to assess whether overall trash volumes, or trash levels at a particular location, makes them justifiable.

Just because local garbage haulers don't take all recyclables at the curb doesn't mean that the city or a locally-run recycling or reuse program can't recycle them. If provided with the right information, consumers can save on dump fees that typically start at $10 (depending on their city and transfer station policies), keep their unwanted items out of landfills, and maybe make money off their junk.

Spur your city to communicate online and off line about local recycle and reuse programs, and bring new programs to leaders' attention. For example, Kashless( lets people post used items they want to give away (or find) for free, creating a marketplace for swaps and providing consumers with "green action" reward points that translate into discounts at local stores GreenDisk( charges $6.95 to recycle up to 20 pounds of computer-related waste.

Salvage stores like Seattle's Second Use(; Brattleboro, Vermont-based ReNew Salvage (; or The Rebuilding Center ( in Portland, Ore., re-sell old building materials to folks eager to source historic materials.

Gardeners with overflow edibles can channel food into local city harvest programs, keeping even more food waste out of their garbage. Neighborhood Fruit (http://www. neighbor offers a guide to sharing, and finding, excess produce. The downside: City officials may hesitate to endorse non-profit or for-profit businesses that pick up where city services leave off, so you may need to persuade local government to mention these businesses as resources that are available locally-but not necessarily "city-approved" organizations. Jane Hodges has written about real estate for publications including The Wall Street Journal,, and The Seattle Times. She lives in Seattle in a 1966 raised rancher with an excellent retro granite fireplace. She and her husband recycle and compost food scraps daily.

Reprinted from HouseLogic ( with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (R).
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Start a Community Garden: Find & Design a Site

Article From
By: Mariwyn Evans
Published: August 28, 2009

Find the right spot for your community garden,
& you can potentially boost property values while saving money on produce.

A well-designed and located community garden can make any neighborhood more attractive and even boost property values. A 2008 article in Real Estate Economics found that in New York City, a 6,000-square-foot community garden added 3.4% in value to a property located next to the garden. After five years, the same garden added 7.4% to property next to the garden and 1.9% to property 1,000 feet away.

Some 18,000 to 20,000 people nationwide, according to the American Community Gardening Association (, are planting vegetables and flowers in parks, vacant lots, schools, office parks, and even cemeteries. If you're looking for a perfect community garden spot, here are some things to keep in mind.

Start the search by walking, biking, or driving around your neighborhood. Consider a site that offers six to eight hours of sun each day. Some shade is OK if you intend to plant flowers as well as food. Gardening is easier if the site is flat, and less expensive if there's a ready source of water-a building spigot, a fire hydrant, or a well.

Also consider the convenience of volunteers. Is the site near parking or public transportation? Are there nearby restrooms? Is there a place in the shade for benches? Have your soil tested, especially if you're gardening in an urban area. Tests look for two things: the presence of any contaminates-like lead-that might make the soil unsuitable, and the chemical composition of the soil, which will help you know what types of fertilizers and soil additions you'll need. Your university agricultural extension or your park district can often help you test the soil.

Last but not least, consider a site that won't arouse opposition. Gardens can be messy (compost piles) and smelly (fertilizers), so you may not want to put your garden near buildings or in an open space with lots of passersby.

Community gardens vary in size greatly because of local land availability. Some are as large as 25,000 square feet. Others fall in the 2,000 to 4,000-square-foot range, says Bill Maynard, vice president of the Community Gardening Association.

Once you've found a promising spot, make contact with the owner. This approval process is often more complicated if you want to garden on public land like a park or school. Check with your local parks or recreation department or school district for specific requirements and deadlines to submit a request to garden. Some cities require that you conduct public hearings and submit a garden design and budget before you can receive a permit.

If you can, draw up a lease between your garden group and the land's owner. The longer the better, advises Sally McCabe, community education project manager for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society ( It can take several years to improve the soil and get a garden going, so get a lease for at least five years.

A lease can also spell out rent, if any, and who will pay for costs like property taxes, water, and insurance. In many cases, a landowner will be willing to donate most or all of these costs to the garden.

Assigning individual plots requires less management. It also lets each plot holder decide what to plant and when and how to garden. On the downside, allotments don't offer as much opportunity to build a social network or to share costs. Even in an allotment system, you might want to ask volunteers to donate one day a month for garden clean-up tasks, suggests Laura Berman, author of How Does Our Garden Grow: A Guide to Starting a Community Garden

Communal gardening, where everyone works the space, requires coordination and keeping volunteers motivated, says Maynard( On the plus side, a communal garden lets you concentrate efforts on the most important work that week-weeding
or watering, for instance.

There's no set size for a community garden, but you'll want to match the size to the number
of volunteers. A 10 x 10-foot or 20 x 20-foot plot is often the allotment size for each volunteer.

Draw out the design using graph paper or an expensive landscape design software program like the HGTV Home & Landscape Platinum Suite ( _Home_and_Landscape_Platinum_Suite.html?tr1=4219&gclid=CJ_Vopzcxps CFSQe DQodlShHBg). Then transfer the blueprint to the site using stakes and twine to lay out rows.

Factor paths of about three feet between rows for workers and wheelbarrows. Paths can be as simple as mulch laid over cardboard. Add benches where volunteers can rest. If you have space, add a shed for storing tools with an overhang that provides shade. Include a rain barrel to save on water.

Raised beds offer an option if you're working with poor soils. Beds should be between 8 and 10 inches deep to allow for root formation, says Charlie Nardozzi, horticulturist and spokesperson for the National Gardening Association ( Higher beds of two to three feet are a plus for elderly or disabled gardeners.

Whether you grow vegetables, flowers, or both, involve volunteers in the decision. What and when you plant depends on your location. Easy-to-grow plants like summer squash, bush beans, peppers, lettuces, greens, and tomatoes are good crops even for beginners, says Nardozzi. Many of these plants can be started from seed either inside or grown directly in the garden. Root crops like carrots and beets are harder to transplant and should be planted directly in the soil.

If you'd rather have the ease of plants, many garden centers will donate unsold plants if you're willing to wait until later in the growing season.

Start-up costs can run about $3,750 to $7,500 if you have a nearby source of water, says Maynard, higher if not. A large garden in a public park with city fees and prevailing wages for contractors could run as high as $30,000.

In terms of time commitment, as the organizer, you can expect to spend 20 to 30 hours a month for six to eight months to get a garden going, Maynard says. Once your garden is planted, it'll take a few hours a week to maintain, Nardozzi says.

But the land will pay you back for all your efforts: A 4 x 16-foot bed can yield $200 to $600 year in produce, depending on climate, says Bobby Wilson, president of Community Gardening Association, not to mention good will.

Mariwyn Evans has spent 25 years writing about commercial and residential real estate, but if she had her way, she would've spent all that time in the garden. These days, she spends part of her week trying to grow tomatoes and volunteering as a weed puller at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. Her next goal: become a Master Gardener.

Reprinted from HouseLogic ( with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (R).
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Charming 1926 Cape Cod Style Home!

3719 NE 65th Ave.
Portland, OR

NE Portland, Cape Cod home-4bd/2ba, hardwoods, newer gourmet French Country Kitchen w/pull out cabinets, pot filler, recipe holder, built-in spice rack, custom lights, stainless, Silestone counter tops. Fully finished basement w/Italian travertine tile floors, surround sound, 7.5' ceilings, large laundry, built-ins, newer roof & electrical, detached garage w/extra storage, fenced yard w/paved patio area, garden & more....Walk to shopping/park.

For more information or to view more properties, go to:

Monday, April 5, 2010

1915 Farmhouse on 1.85 acres!

Price Reduced!

1122 SW Barnes Rd.
Gresham, OR 97080

Beautiful 1915 Farmhouse on 1.85 acres in the city of Gresham. Award winning rose gardens, abundance of fruit trees/berries. 3/bd/3ba home, large country kitchen w/stainless appliances., lots of counters, living & family, full bath on main, double pane vinyl windows, huge master suite w/balcony, covered patio, 2nd open patio, 30x40 shop with newer roof, 10'garage door. Development potential. Unfinished basement.

To view more photos and for more information go to