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We understand the importance of protecting our planet. Since Johnson County Government created its first sustainability committee in 2004, being mindful of our impact on the environment has become a priority in the construction and maintenance of County buildings. The United States Green Building Council has certified two of our buildings as LEED Platinum and five others as LEED Gold. We’ve expanded our fleet of alternative fuel and Compressed Natural Gas Vehicles and made strides towards ambitious waste goals. We also offer our residents many ways to make sustainability part of their lives through The Jo transit system, and recycling opportunities for Household Hazardous Waste, expired medications and unwanted electronics. Together we can make a difference!

Environmental News

Final week to recycle Christmas trees

It's the final week to drop-off discarded natural Christmas trees for recycling in Johnson County.

Sponsered by the Johnson County Park and Recreation District, three collection sites to recycle your trees will end on Saturday, January 31st. 

Approximately 1,700 trees have been collected to date in the program that began the day after Christmas. The program "recycles" the trees, mulching some for use on trails and in landscaping while others will be used to improve fish habitats in district lakes.

The collection sites are:

  • the parking lot at The Theatre in the Park in Shawnee Mission Park, with a separate entance at 7710 Renner Road, Shawnee
  • the Heritage Park Marina parking lot, 16050 Pflumm Road, Olathe; and,
  • the north side of the parking lot at the Marina at Kill Creek Park, 11670 Homestead Lane, Olathe.

 Trees will be collected during reuglar winter park hours, which are 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., except at Shawnee Mission Park, which opens at 6 a.m. in the winter. No yard waste will be accepted -- only Christmas trees.

There is no charge for this service. The program is open to anyone regardless of residency. For additional information, please call 913-888-4713. 

How to recycle your holiday celebration

 

Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, Americans generate 25% more trash. Over Christmas alone, the average family will fill 5 extra trash bags. With the large quantity of packaging, cards, wrapping paper, trees, lights, and ornaments it is no wonder that this is the most wastful, albeit wonderful, time of year.

But it doesn't have to be that way. From the Department of Health and Environment, here are a few things you can recycle and some ways to prevent generating extra waste in the first place.

Holiday Lighs: You no longer have to throw away your broken and unusable holiday lights thanks to Southeast Enterprises, which recycled more than 60,000 pounds of holiday lights last year alone. Find the drop-off location closest you. Some locations will accept lights through January 20, others have an earlier cut-off date.

Packaging: The packaging surrounding toys, gadgets, and many other gifts is not just annoying to parents, it can be exceedingly wasteful. Oftentimes these materials are recyclable. All of the cardboard and a majority of the plastics can go in your recycle bin, Styrofoam, while not accepted for curbside recycling, can be recycled at some locations.

Trees - Real and Fake: Keep your Christmas tree out of the landfill. An artical tree that it is no longer usable can be recycled as electronic waste at several locations in the area. Natural trees can be recycled in several places around the county and will find a second home as a fish habitat or mulch for a park. Johnson County Park and Recreation operates collection sites at several parks from December 26 through January 31. Your city may also be recycling trees.

Wrapping Paper: Each year we throw away enough paper to wrap 5,787 NFL football fields. Unfortunatly most wrapping paper can't be recycled. Use a reusable bag, an old magazine, or newspaper instead. If you must buy wrapping paper, buy rolls made from recycled paper.

Waste Free Wednesday- Greening Your Holiday Party

As part of Waste Free WednesdayJohnson County Department of Health and Enviornment wants to show you how you can green your holiday party. Rethink how you celebrate this holiday season by following these easy tips to not only reduce your waste, but save resources and money too.

  • Provide recycling containters for cans, bottles, and other recyclables. If you have backyard composting collect the compostable food scraps too.
  • Provide reusable plates, cups, utensils, and linens. If you don't have enough consider having people bring their own.
  • Encourage your guests to carpool or when the weather is nicer provide people with information on bike and public transit routes.
  • Distribute invitations electronically or by using social media such as Facebook.
  • Consider using locally grown food if you are preparing food yourself. Take a trip to one of the local Farmer's Markets to get ingredients. Many local options are available even during the wintertime.
  • Use decorations that are reusable and can be used again for another party. You can also create your own decorations instead of buying them from the store.
  • Provide condiments in bulk instead of the individually wrapped sizes.Condiment packets are not recyclable, providing another option will allow you to save these items from entering the landfill.
  • Consider having your guests bring a certain item to donate whether it is food for a food pantry or gently used winter clothes.   
Check your home for radon

When was the last time you had your home tested for radon? According to the Surgeon General, this tasteless and odorless gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. The only way to know if you have radon in the home is to test for it. The Kansas Department of Health recommends that all Kansans test their homes for radon, and if the levels are above 4.0 pCi/l, the homes should be fixed.

Do-It-Yourself radon test kits are available at the Johnson County K-State Research and Extension office. Click here to learn more about this potentially life-saving tool that will give you and your family peace of mind.

Emerald Ash Borer Spreads in Johnson County

Emerald Ash Borer infested Ash tree in Wyandotte County Kansas May 2014

This image is symptomatic of the early stages of Emerald Ash Borer infestation in an ash tree. Image taken by Wyandotte County K-State Research and Extension horticulture agent Lynn Lowery, May 26, 2014.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) confirmed Tuesday, June 24 that 3 adult emerald ash borer (EAB) were caught at a Roeland Park trap tree and 1 adult EAB was caught at a trap tree in Shawnee during a trap check in Johnson County, Kan. The newest confirmations were made by a KDA entomologist. The insect was first found in northern Johnson County in 2013. KDA is monitoring the insects’ movement through the use of traps.

“Up until now, we have been cautioning people to take a wait-and-see approach and not treat their Ash trees, said Dennis Patton, county Extension agent/horticulture. “With these new confirmations it is clear that the EAB population is spreading in Johnson County. We recommend spring treatments to tree owners, but only for valuable trees in excellent-to-good condition.”

Patton went on to add, “Tree owners need to understand that this is not a one-and-done deal. If you decide to treat your trees it’s with the understanding that it is for the life of the tree.”

Green and white ash have long been popular street trees. Since its first detection in Michigan in 2002, emerald ash borer Agrilus planipennis, a wood boring insect, has killed millions of ash trees in the native woodlands and suburban streets within its path. The insect is now present in twenty three states. Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation estimates that there are 4.6 million ash trees in the region at risk.

Patton’s advice from last year still stands. “The best recommendation at this time is not to panic. You have time to assess your situation and determine the best course of action, which can range from treatment to letting nature run its course.”

Patton stressed that treatments should be done in the spring. Before any action is taken, homeowners should assess the health and value of their tree. Preventive treatment options are available, but should only be considered for trees that are healthy and a value to the landscape

The Extension office has on their website detailed information with points tree owners should consider when dealing with emerald ash borer. Or they may call the Extension office at (913) 715-7000.

Great job going green!

Johnson County Department of Health and Environment is proud to announce the winners of the 2014 Green Business Awards. The awards recognize businesses that lead the way in waste reduction and sustainability in Johnson County. This year’s winners serve as an example that a business can be successful and care for the environment whether it employs 10 or 1,000. Each recipient has gone beyond the recycling of plastic and paper and collectively have diverted several thousand tons of material from regional landfills. This year’s winners include:

  • Farmers Insurance KC Claims Center
  • Farmers Insurance National Property Claims Center
  • ITW Professional Brands 
  • National Seminars Training
  • Shawnee Mission Health
  • Sprint
  • WaterOne

The Department of Health & Environment can help a business jump start or even enhance its recycling program. Solid Waste specialists from the Johnson County Health and Environment Department are available to provide free waste and recycling evaluations as well as consultation for your business to save money and reduce waste. Learn more here.

Free Online Mapping Training

FREE CLASSES! - AIMS offers free training classes to the public and our partners each month. We have scheduled several classes for the first half of 2014. These classes offer hands-on training on the AIMS Online Mapping application as well as a variety of tips and tricks for getting the most out of the application to help you find what you're looking for. MyAIMS classes offer additional capabilities for our data partners (cities, utilities, etc.) to access information not available to the public, such as recorded documents and utility data. For more information and to enroll, click here.

Commercial Customers May Save Money in Voluntary Program

Johnson County Wastewater's commercial customers may participate in a voluntary program to obtain credit for water which does not enter the department's collection system. In order to receive credit, Johnson County Wastewater requires that this water be continuously metered via a deduct meter. A deduct water meter measures the amount of water not discharging into the sanitary sewer system. This would include water used for lawn sprinkler systems or cooling towers. Here is additional information about the Sewer Use Credit Program.

Johnson County asks homeowners to recycle their lawns

Johnson Count's Department of Health and Environment and Stormwater Management Program have teamed up to inform the public of the importance of recycling their lawns. Johnson County's Recycle Your Lawn campaign encourages homeowners to stop bagging up grass clippings, keep dead leaves out of the storm drain, and return nutrients back onto the lawn by using a mower to mulch the grass and leaves.

"Recycling your lawn is a simple, healthy way to manage yard waste and keep it out of landfills and out of storm drains," says Brandon Hearn, Solid Waste Management Specialist, Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. "Grass clippings decompose quickly and recycle valuable nutrients back to the lawn. Fallen leaves can also be finely chopped with a mulching mower right onto the lawn or placed in a backyard compost bin."

"Dumping leaves and grass clippings in storm drains is not only illegal, it can also severely impact water quality in our rivers and streams and cause flooding," says Heather Schmidt, Johnson County Water Quality Specialist. "Yard waste can carry fertilizers and pesticides from your yard causing pollution and piles of leaves and grass can lead to oxygen depletion in water and ultimately result in fish kills."

Johnson County's Department of Health and Environment and Stormwater Management Program have partnered on RecycleYourLawn.com

 

Residents asked to recycle their lawns

With the upcoming anticipated sunshine and long holiday weekend, Kansas Citians may spend some of next week preparing their lawns for winter. That’s why Johnson County’s Department of Health and Environment and Stormwater Management Program have teamed up to inform the public of the importance of recycling their lawns.

“Dumping leaves and grass clippings in storm drains is not only illegal, it can also severely impact water quality in our rivers and streams and cause flooding,” says Heather Schmidt, Johnson County Water Quality Specialist. ”Yard waste can carry fertilizers and pesticides from your yard causing pollution and piles of leaves and grass can lead to oxygen depletion in water and ultimately result in fish kills.”

Johnson County’s Recycle Your Lawn campaign encourages homeowners to stop bagging up grass clippings, keep dead leaves out of the storm drain, and return nutrients back onto the lawn by using a mower to mulch the grass and leaves.

“Recycling your lawn is a simple, healthy way to manage yard waste and keep it out of landfills and out of storm drains,” says Brandon Hearn, Solid Waste Management Specialist, Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. “Grass clippings decompose quickly and recycle valuable nutrients back to the lawn. Fallen leaves can also be finely chopped with a mulching mower right onto the lawn or placed in a backyard compost bin.”

Johnson County’s Department of Health and Environment and Stormwater Management Program have partnered on RecyleYourLawn.com, with many tips and videos on mulching, backyard composting, and Johnson County’s yard waste rules.