April 18, 2005 | General


BioCycle April 2005, Vol. 46, No. 4, p. 59
With the Mulchettes singing backup music, New Jersey’s Morris County vegetative waste manager livens up the annual recycling awards dinner with the MUA Compost Rap.
Penny Jones

“THE SOUNDS OF RECYCLING” – the 17th annual Morris County (New Jersey) Recycling Awards Dinner – was scheduled for November 5, 2004, and the minifashion show needed a shot in the arm with only two weeks to go.
“Let’s kick it up a notch and do something outrageous,” urged Liz Sweedy, recycling specialist for the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority (MCMUA), the agency that sponsors the dinner. “Although the dinner focuses primarily on those who recycle bottles, cans and paper, as well as those who dispose properly of hazardous waste and those who refrain from becoming litterbugs, it’s good to let our guests know about a very important MCMUA responsibility: vegetative waste processing. Also, we really should wend the dinner theme into the minifashion show,” Liz added.
“I have an idea: a compost rap! Mike Olohan, our vegetative waste recycling operations manager, is a good sport. He has a great sense of humor, too. He’ll be a dynamite rapper!” Liz exclaimed.
The rest is history. Liz, a.k.a. Leeza Tea Rapper, wrote “The MUA Compost Rap.” She then convinced Geoff Knapp, environmental specialist, to join her as a member of the Mulchettes, the backup duo.
Larry Gindoff, solid waste coordinator, turned the MCMUA library into a recording studio. He used a drum machine (“Hip-hop and rap people always have these,” he said) to find a beat to go with Liz’s lyrics. Mike then rapped the lyrics simultaneously with the drumbeat chosen by Larry. And the Mulchettes sang backups. Larry mixed and mastered the song to a computer and burned the final song onto a CD to be played at the dinner. On November 5, Mike lip-synced the rap on the runway at the conclusion of the minifashion show. Two hundred thirty guests observed his performance.
As one might have expected, thunderous applause erupted as the premier performance of the rap became a done deal.
“I can tell you, I’m no Eminem. I think most folks there found it a little odd for a formal recycling dinner,” Mike responded a few days later, after being asked what the experience was like for him. “The taping session was a blast. I totally got into it, especially with all the ‘yo, yo, yo’s,'” he said as he reflected on the totality of the rap experience.
On the other hand, engineer/producer Larry, whose hobby is home recording, offered his opinion of the experience: “I felt like a plastic wrapper inside a vegetative windrow – out of place.” Hmmm….
“In Morris County, people take lots of pride in their homes and yards. Because we compost leaves and grass and make the end product available to residents, commercial landscapers and bulk haulers, this was a good way to highlight it,” added Liz.
There’s no doubt that rapper Mike, with all of his “yo, yo, yo’s” personified the sounds of recycling at the dinner. Although he may dream of becoming as famous as Eminem, he still labors at his day job; Mike oversees vegetative waste processing at two county facilities, one at Camp Pulaski in Mt. Olive and one in Parsippany. At those facilities, brush, woodchips, grass and leaves reside temporarily until they reach a new state of being as mulch and compost. During 2004, a total of 78,500 cubic yards of material was accepted at the two facilities, and a total of 41,200 cubic yards of screened compost, unscreened compost and double-ground wood mulch was sold or distributed countywide.
“Yo, yo, yo” – the sounds of recycling, indeed!
Penny Jones is recycling education specialist with the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority based in Mendham, New Jersey.
I’m Mike Olohan from the MUA.
I’m the compost master and here today.
Let me tell ya ’bout grass, leaves, vegetative waste.
High on the hill is the Camp Pulaski place.
Come up to the camp and blow your minda.
You’ll be bumpin,’ jumpin,’ spittin,’ and grindin.’
The compost is stacked in a great big heap.
The pile’s sky high and really deep.
Now don’tcha go and tell the DEP:
Our windrows too wide when they shouldn’t be.
Grass up there’s not the kind you smoke.
But if you wanna feel funky, then take a toke
The towns bring in grass, leaves and brush.
We throw ’em in the grinder and make some mush.
Someone’s gotta do it, it’s a real dirty job.
But please be assured, we’re not the mob.
We’re the boys who recycle the vegetative waste.
We make it rich and black and bring it to your place.
Your mamma’s mad, and man, is she p.o.’d.
You call me up for compost and order a load.
The load is delivered, and your yard looks fine.
You’re the envy of the neighbors – it is s-o-o divine!
I’m the Compost Man, Mike Olohan.
I’m the Compost Man, Mike Olohan.
That’s right – I’m the Compost Man

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