There are two ways every household in Scarborough can help themselves, their community and the environment: recycling and composting. Our household has done both for 30 years since we lived in Japan, where it is the law.

Recycling in Scarborough is extremely easy. The yellow-lidded curbside container is the key ingredient.

All recyclable plastics now have the recycle triangle on them. The tubes for toilet tissue and paper towels, newspapers, most magazines and office paper are recyclable. Paper towels and tissues are better composted. When you throw your trash in your recycling container, you are adding to the garbage that we pay $70 per ton to get rid of.

Composting is easy. Almost anything can be composted, but it is best to keep meat and things that attract scavengers out of the compost bin. Vegetable matter, mulched leaves in the fall, a few grass clippings, any weeds pulled from the garden, tubes from tissue paper and paper towels, tissues themselves and egg cartons all compost. Turn and water it once a month. A simple screen sifter yields a beautiful compost after a few months.

If you cannot or don’t want to compost, buy a small bucket. Put your compostable material in there. Once a week or so, drive by one of the three compost stations, called “toters.” These are at the Veterans Home, at Wal-Mart and at Pine Tree Waste and are serviced by Garden to Garden.

Since May 2015, these toters have diverted about 7 tons of compostable material from the solid waste stream. That 7 tons is now on its way to fertilizing something good instead of adding to our waste stream.

Please separate your garbage and recyclables. Please compost. It takes so little effort. It’s a real win-win.

Mike Turek