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50th anniversary of Earth Day

April celebrates the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behavior and create global, national and local policy changes. While this year, with the pandemic ongoing, we can all still celebrate Earth Day at our own homes.

Recycling is important but it is only part of what you can do. If you are not currently recycling, you can learn more about it either by calling the environmental office or by going online to the Lyon County webpage to read more about it. If you live out in the country, you have access to community recycling drop sites in every city in Lyon County.

Residents can learn more about what you can and cannot recycle. This is very important. We currently are seeing clothing, hoses (garden and sump pump), small appliances (toasters, coffee makers), bagged shredded paper, Styrofoam and there still are residents who are placing their recycling in a plastic bag. These things will not recycled and will be thrown away, which costs the recycling program in Lyon County money. Recycling placed into trash bags could go straight to the landfill.

Clothing should go to thrift stores or be thrown away. I realize that some of these programs are currently closed, so please hang onto these items until things start to open up again. Hoses and small appliances should never be recycled. They are trash. Recycling plastic can be confusing and an easy way to think about it is if the item had food in it or soap, then it can go into the drop sites or your cart. While hoses and small appliances have plastic in them, it is not recyclable for a couple of reasons. The hoses actually get tangled up in the recycling equipment and small appliances are made up of several different materials which cannot be separated. This includes any glass such as a coffee carafe. This type of glass cannot be recycled either. My advice is when it comes to small appliances really think about whether or not you need it because most often when it breaks, it becomes trash.

Styrofoam and shredded paper are not collected and recycled from the recycling program in Lyon County. So if you place Styrofoam or shredded paper into the community drop sites or into your cart, it will just be thrown away. The program that we have that does accept these items is currently closed but when it reopens, you can bring those items to the Household Hazardous Waste facility for recycling for free! Otherwise, these items are also trash.

Reducing and reusing is an important part of making sure that we work to save our resources. It is also the hardest part of the three “Rs.” It sometimes comes down to simple changes. For example, choose aluminum pop cans instead of buying plastic pop bottles whenever you can. Try using less single use materials such as straws, paper plates, napkins, plastic utensils, Styrofoam or plastic cups. Another quick exchange is to limit the amount of hand soap purchased that is in plastic bottles and start using more bar soap.

There are non-profits that would love to have your aluminum pop cans to help them fundraise. By separating pop cans out of your recycling, you can save space in your cart. Residents can also bring their flattened cardboard to any of the community recycling drop sites in Lyon County. Cardboard that is left in its box shape takes up so much more space than if we take a moment to make sure it is flattened and placed in the correct bin.

Remember, please place all of your recycling into your cart and don’t leave any recycling next to the cart or it won’t be picked up. The most important thing you can do is to remember what can be recycled and then follow those rules. Don’t place anything into the recycling cart or drop site that is not recyclable. For more information on recycling, contact the Lyon County Environmental Department at 507-532-8210 or go to our website at www.lyonco.org.

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