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Recycling is a pretty simple concept: take something that isn't useful anymore and make it into something new instead of just throwing it away. It can be anything, from recycling old paper into new paper to making an old shoe into a decorative flowerpot.

In reality, recycling can get pretty complex. How it interacts with our environment, our politics, our economy and even our own human behavior patterns plays a major role in the future of recycling.

This year we join the rest of the nation and celebrate America Recycles Day, which occurs every Nov. 15. We will celebrate by having an activity hosted at the Forest Glen Fire Department, Building 609, Nov. 8, 10 a.m. to 1 p..m. Join us for environmental information, shredding unwanted personal papers, and recycling of old electronics. We will celebrate at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., by having a community shred event.

Recycling and buying green are just two ways you can help reduce your impact on the planet. Fort Detrick pledges to recycle all commodities in a cost effective manner and to purchase green office, building, and construction supplies in accordance with federal initiatives to buy green.

Take the Fort Detrick Recycles Day Challenge for 2012!

* I pledge to find out what materials I can and cannot recycle at Fort Detrick

* I pledge to lead by example at work and at home by recycling

* I pledge to recycle used batteries and cellular phones and other electronic waste

* I pledge to tell at least five people that recycling is the easiest thing they can do to slow global warming

At Fort Detrick and Forest Glen, we recycle all metals (including aluminum and steel cans), all grades of paper (including glossy paper), plastics (#1, #2, #3, and # 4), glass containers, wooden pallets, textiles, spent batteries, used oil, used antifreeze, and fluorescent light tubes. Recycle bins should be located in and around your office. If you require an additional bin, please contact Jennifer Adkins at

We have been given the distinct opportunity to participate in the Army's Net Zero Program. At Fort Detrick, we interpret this to mean, "Zero waste to landfill without energy recovery." We are equipped at Fort Detrick with four incinerators that process solid waste. Waste heat from the incineration process is used to fire four boilers that create usable steam for some of the steam needs throughout the installation. At Forest Glen, some of our waste goes to the Montgomery County waste-to-energy plant. These are two examples of recovering energy while processing waste.

Another facet of integrated solid waste management is closing the "loop" by buying green. Did you know...

- if you are using a government purchase card, you are required to purchase 30 percent post consumer recycled content paper?

- you can purchase paper with higher recycled content?

- if you purchase petroleum oil or lubricating products for the government, you must consider those with biobased content?

For more information or if you have any questions on what and how to recycle or purchase green, please contact Waste Management at (301) 619-2323 or the Environmental Management Office at (301) 619-0044.