City of Asheville Parks Maintenance sees green

Going green is big. But sometimes big ideas come in the form of little changes. That’s what the City of Asheville Parks Maintenance staff is finding out as it tries to tweak more of its operations in the direction of environmental sensitivity.

From mop heads to cleaning solution to recycling strategies, the department is finding new ways to make the city’s recreation centers and public facilities run more and more eco-friendly.

“We’re going green,” says Superintendent of Parks Kathy Connor. “The guys have really been working on it, thinking about how they can contribute.”

Already, the custodial staff in the city’s recreation centers have begun using hydrogen peroxide-based solutions as all-purpose cleaning agents. The product is strong enough to handle cleanup at the centers, but is much more environmentally sensitive than traditional cleaning agents. And the new solution is dispersed by a meter that mixes an exact amount each time, saving material costs for the city, Connor says.

And greening the cleaning routine doesn’t stop there; the department recently purchased sustainable bamboo mop handles and fiber mop heads that can be reused more times than the old ones.

The department is also in the process of switching hand drying stations from paper towels to high-pressure blown air dryers. The move, says Connor, saves paper and makes for cleaner restrooms. The switch at Asheville’s McCormick Field is already complete, and the community centers and park restrooms are expected to follow in the coming year.

In each operation, says Labor Crew Coordinator Paul Becker, there is an opportunity to find an environmental twist. A dead tree recently removed from the Burton Street Community center, Becker notes, was mulched for use on trails, as is the practice for branches and leaves collected by the crews. Even the bags supplied at Pack Square Park for dog owners to clean up after their pets are biodegradable.

“We’re trying to do everything we can,” Becker says.

The department is also stepping up recycling opportunities in city parks and public facilities. With some facilities like Pack Square Park already sporting new recycling containers, the department is working to spread the availability to high-impact areas like ballfields and picnic areas. This year, city community centers began using single-stream recycling systems intended to make it as easy as possible to participate in recycling.

“We’re really trying to do different things,” Becker says. “We want people to see Asheville as a great city, and if we can say we’re a clean city and we do things like recycle, we look even better.”