7 Ways to Go Green in Cary with Spruce

Story by Lindsey Chester. Photo by Buksy.

Cary, NC – Did you know the Town of Cary pays an average of $32 per ton in disposal fees to send trash to the landfill, and currently gets paid $18 per ton for all the items we recycle?  Cary recycles more than any other municipality in all of North Carolina. Each year more Cary trash gets recycled -it just makes sound fiscal sense.

Tune up your green lifestyle with 7 Spruce events this Spring.

1. Adopt-A-Spot

This program launched in September 2011. Modeled after Adopt-A-Highway, the program encourages  groups or individuals to literally adopt an area to keep litter-free. Care for a park, school, community center, library or other public or private area. After choosing an area, communicate your interest to Sarah Justice, the Town’s Conservation Specialist (by email or phone: 469-4301 ). Sarah will set you up with everything you need to be successful.

The Commitment

Groups must commit to 2 years with at least 4 work days per year.  Sarah will coordinate the work days,making sure groups have supplies- vests, trash pickers, gloves and bags, and will have a truck pick up the trash and recycling.  A special “Adopt A Spot” sign with the group’s name is posted in the area, publicizing their efforts.

Special Projects

Some projects are more extensive involving wetland restoration. For instance a boy scout troop has adopted an area of the Swift Creek Greenway near Ritter Park. Here the stream has been compromised and their work includes planting native vegetation which will act as natural filters for the stream.

As part of a test pilot program,  a girl scout area council has adopted the Compost Education Center near the Senior Center as part of their recognition of the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouting. The group will compost food scraps from the senior center, and vegetable waste from the 5 raised garden beds and in turn use the compost to fertilize the garden.

2. Compost Give Away

March 10, 9am-noon, Garmon Operations Center at 400 James Jackson Ave.

This is a great way to make use of natural fertilizer for your garden. The compost is provided by McGill Environmental, the firm who contracts with the town to compost the town’s yard waste and Christmas trees. The event starts at 9am and compost will be given away while supplies last. Bring either 18-32 gallon containers, or pull up in the express lane if you have an open bed pickup truck or trailer. Its FREE.

3. Compost Workshop

March 13, 6:30-7:30pm -Cary Senior Center, Bond Park

Take going green a step further with your own vermicomposting bin using food scraps, yard waste, worms and scrap paper. In this free class you will learn all the basics of how to compost with worms and how to keep your bin in balance. At the end of the workshop,  you will be given your own starter container and worms to take home. This free class requires advance registration on the Town’s E-Z Reg website, using course # 57686 .

4. Arbor Day-Seedling Giveaway

Mar 17-10am-11:30am

Town Hall Campus, 316 N. Academy St.

Spruce volunteers will plant an honorary tree on town hall campus. Be a part of this annual celebration and receive your own free dogwood saplings. A certified arborist will be on hand to demonstrate how you can plant your tree and answer questions.

5. Spring Litter Sweep

April 14

Twice a year the town holds a big litter clean up and you can help by contacting Sarah Justice to find out where group sites are being set up. If you are a member of the Cary Teen Council, you can log in service hours and attend one of their specific sites. Have an area you think needs  a clean up? Contact Sarah Justice and let her know you would like to work there. She will make sure you have all the supplies you need and have the town pick up your trash and recyclables when you are done.

6. Household Hazardous Waste Collection

Garmon Operations Center- May 19

If you’re like me, you have cans of paint, household chemicals and outmoded electronics that you just don’t know what to do with. Year after year these items gather dust waiting to be thrown out- the Wake County Waste Center is too far, the hours aren’t convenient, so you hang onto the items indefinitely. Help is near at hand!

The town is hosting a free collection day where you can drive up to their central location and drop off these items. Mark your calendar now and start gathering what you wish to clear out of your basements, garages and storage spaces. Time is TBD.


  • acids / bases
  • automobile fluids / antifreeze
  • batteries
  • cooking oil / motor oil
  • fire extinguishers (dry chemical)
  • fluorescent light bulbs
  • fuel oil / lighter fluid / kerosene
  • household cleaners /chemicals
  • mercury thermometers
  • paints / lacquers / polishes
  • pesticides / herbicides / poisons
  • photographic chemicals
  • solvents / thinners / wood preservatives
  • home electronics

7. Compost Bin Sale

Garmon Operations Center- June 2, times TBD

Now that you have the “bug” to compost, purchase your own large compost bin at this town truckload sale. The bins come complete with a guide on proper compost methods so you can recycle your yard waste, and vegatable matter instead of sending them to the land fill.

Look for more events in the Fall including the second annual ReUse Rodeo!

Ask Sarah

Have questions, ideas, or you want to help? Contact Sarah Justice, Cary’s Conservation Specialist at (919)469-4301 or shoot her an email, I’m sure she’d like to hear from you!