Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | April 18, 2010

The Dump

When you hear the term “Conservation Center” what do you think of? A wooded area with animals running around, flowers sprouting and people working to save the land. Here in New Jersey, conservation center means the dump. At least it’s a dump for yard waste and recycling. You see here in New Jersey (or at least our town), the garbage trucks don’t pick up yard waste. In California, we just left out our yard waste and recycling every other week, and the reycling trucks picked it up  (included in our garbage fees).

We do get our recycling picked up every other week, but yard waste? That’s separate. You have to buy a $70 tag to dump your yard waste.

We figured we’d save the cash by composting and mulching. And we did that for awhile. Though there were too many grass clippings to properly mulch (we now have an outdoor composting bin – we’ll see if it will hold all the clippings). The bags of clippings started smelling after awhile, so our kind neighbor took it to the conservation center for us on his “tag.”

But then the spikey balls started falling. And by April, we had at least 10 garbage bags of them (above) stashed in our garage, taking up a lot of space. on the first day the Conservation  Center started selling 2010 tags, Mark packed up the minivan and headed over. The website said they opened at 9 a.m. There was a long line. But in fact the website was wrong and they opened at 11 a.m. So he came home, then went back at 11, to an even longer line. Our garage looks much better now but we’re $70 poorer.

At least we found a new use for the spiky balls. The garden store told us we could fill our flower pots 3/4 with sticks and rocks, so we could use less (purchased) dirt. Aha! Spikey balls! We filed five pots with them and still had almost spikey balls left to send to the conservation center. 


  1. Two things: 1) We call them “itchy balls” in our house, though a tree guy who came by told me he calls them gum balls, for the gum tree from which they fall and 2) I hate them (or rather their relentlessness–do they ever stop falling?), and am glad to know about this repurposing of them! Thanks!

  2. You’re up early, Gail! Somehow we didn’t see any of them on the lawn when we bought our house. The sellers must have been very good about picking them up!

  3. I’m always up early, unfortunately! Early risers, these kids.

    Oh I didn’t see any on our lawn either when we bought the house. Now the kids and I have taken to calling it Itchy Ball City.

    We need to buy a tag too, by the way. I do miss this about NYC sanitation. They took EVERYTHING from the curb.

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