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What do I do with the things?

I have had many opportunities to talk to all generations of residents living in Lyon County about recycling and many more topics on the environment. While it is true that we can get more information than what we know what to do with on the Internet, there is nothing like having a simple conversation between two people in order to learn more about any given topic. Besides, some of the information on the Internet is not applicable to our county or it is just plain wrong.

The main driving question that many of us have is what do I do with the things I no longer need or want? We are all faced with this decision many times a day but we don’t often realize that we are making these decisions. We need to start understanding how our personal choices are adding not only to Lyon County’s use of natural resources but also how it is contributing to our situation on a global level too. We as a society need to understand that we will not recycle our way out of our trash situation either. Recycling is only a small part of what we can do to help. This is certainly something that as adults, we need to start having this conversation with our families and each other. It is one that I have with multiple schoolchildren every opportunity that I can have. So what is it that we do to help educate residents?

I have been in several schools in Lyon County, talking to many different age groups about recycling and other environmental topics. I have been in every school in Yellow Medicine County (Lyon County is the solid waste administrator for Yellow Medicine County) to talk about the same information through the after school programs. I have set up information tables at the fair. I have worked with all of the libraries in Lyon and Yellow Medicine counties to provide materials for Earth Day and America Recycles Day. I have had an information table at the Farmers Market. We have taken school children and school staff to the Lyon County Landfill for tours. We work with many after school programs and 4-H groups on environmental topics throughout Lyon County. I write an informative column, such as this one, for two papers in Lyon County. I do Facebook posts with information as well. We also give informative presentations to area groups such as the Rotary or the Young Professionals Group through the Marshall Chamber of Commerce. I also handle multiple phone calls every day helping residents with information so that they can make a good choice on disposing items.

The last piece has been working on an apartment grant along with The Recycling Partnership, MPCA and the EPA to help us understand how apartment recycling works best in Minnesota. This also helps us in Lyon County to understand how to best fit recycling into everyone’s lifestyle no matter where you live. I have learned a lot working with the five Lyon County apartment building residents and managers about what challenges they face in order to recycle right. It has been very worthwhile to get a picture of everyone’s knowledge of recycling.

I want Lyon County residents to feel empowered by knowledge which helps everyone to make an impact whether it is a small one or a large one. We need to take the time to encourage each other about what the right thing is to do when we talk about disposing items that we no longer need or want. We need to take the time to learn what can and cannot be recycled through our curbside carts and our community drop sites. We need to take the time to learn that there are many other ways to dispose of items besides our trash can and our recycling containers. If you call us, we can help you learn about the other alternative places that products can go. Please feel free to call me if you would like to learn more about recycling or other environmental topics or to set up a presentation for your business or group. The Lyon County Environmental Department hours are Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Please call 507-532-8210. The Lyon County Landfill is open Monday-Friday 6 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m.-noon.

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