When Mt. Lebanon residents haul their cans to the curb each week, Andrew Baram can't help but take note.
"One of the things I always hate is on trash day, passing people's garbage and seeing what they aren't recycling," he said.
People who pass his house might notice his family's lack of output when it comes to trash.
"Between the four of us and our cat, we have less than one bag per week," he noted.
Mr. Baram is trying to make his Mt. Lebanon neighbors aware that they, too, can send far less waste to the landfill. He has been a major proponent of the "pay as you throw" concept for trash collection, a variable-price model by which residents who throw away more also pay more for the right to do so.
A member of the Mt. Lebanon Environmental Sustainability Board, Mr. Baram recently arranged a presentation for the municipal commissioners by WasteZero, a company that partners with municipalities for effective waste-reduction programs.
The goal is to move away from flat-fee trash collection to one that makes residents consider this financial question, as posed by Mr. Baram: "Do I want to pay to throw my stuff in a landfill, or don't I?"
He said he has long-standing sentiments about the manner in which items are disposed of, and those thoughts have prompted him over time to take an active role in promoting waste reduction.
Mr. Baram is part of the Mt. Lebanon Environmental Team, a group that meets the first Thursday of each month at Uptown Coffee on Washington Road. Last year, he joined the Environmental Sustainability Board.
He wants to make residents aware of issues such as what exactly can be recycled, with the hope that more people become conscientious about waste disposal as they learn.
He has helped initiate a program along those lines at his synagogue, Beth El Congregation.
"We have been partnering with AgRecycle to take all of our compostable waste, reducing the waste there that goes to the landfill by over 75 percent," he said. "I am also in discussion with Mt. Lebanon School District to see if it will pilot a composting program working with AgRecycle."
A native of Bucks County, Mr. Baram moved to Mt. Lebanon when his job brought him to Pittsburgh 11 years ago. He is a risk manager for PNC, where he helped prompt the financial services corporation to develop a unique system for automatically reordering checks.
"We have patents, and there's no one else who's doing it," said Mr. Baram, a Penn State University graduate.
He and his wife, Lisa, met when they were high school students. They have been married 16 years and have two children -- Sadie, 11, and Jonah, 9 -- who attend Mt. Lebanon School District schools.
A big-time baseball fan, Mr. Baram grew up rooting for his hometown Philadelphia Phillies but now shares his allegiance with another team:
"I'm a proud supporter of the Pirates."neigh_south
Harry Funk, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.