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Recycling program positives

At this juncture, we are often looking for positive things to hear about in the news. During the past couple of months, we all have been struggling with recycling at home or cleaning out our homes while we are or were staying at home. There are some positives to report with our recycling program.

The Environmental office is spending more time reaching out to you, our residents of Lyon County, about the recycling program. Each time we send out our recycling and disposal newsletter, we are finding at least 10 more families who were not recycling before and are now trying it out for the first time. This is great news! We have been able to send out letters reminding contractors about recycling on their construction sites. Soon, we will be doing a recycling survey by checking on how our curbside program is doing by visiting every town in Lyon County and looking to see how recycling is going for our curbside recyclers. We already are checking every week on the community recycling drop sites. Letters will be also sent out to apartment managers and owners to make sure the smaller apartment buildings will have recycling services through the county while larger buildings will need to contact their waste hauler for services.

We continue to hear from our residents about the difficulty in recycling plastic materials. Recycling plastic materials at home can be challenging. Please do not go by the recycling logo on the packaging or item especially if it is plastic. This logo of the chasing arrows in a triangle is sometimes used on plastic items only to identify what kind of plastic it is. It doesn’t mean that the item is able to be recycled in our community. There are seven different kinds of plastic. Lyon County only recycles three (1, 2 and 5). If you can identify it as one of the three numbers, it is larger than three inches but not larger than 5 gallons, you can place the lid back on the plastic item and place it into the recycling bin especially if it is an item from the kitchen, laundry, bath (bottles, containers and tubs). There are probably more plastic items that are not recyclable than those that actually are recyclable.

Are you into a green lawn or into a beautiful garden? Potting soil bags, fertilizer or seed bags, planting pots and trays, ceramic pots, garden hoses, weed eaters, lawn edging, plastic tools, rakes, gloves, boots are not recyclable. While they are mostly made up of plastic, they are a type of plastic that is not wanted by material recovery businesses. These items would all be considered trash.

And speaking of the recycling logo, we often forget that there are two other arrows in the logo which includes reducing and reusing. I think that reusing is pretty self-explanatory but reducing can be a bit trickier in today’s society. An example of reducing is to stop purchasing water in plastic bottles (tap water is more highly regulated than bottled water) and use a water bottle instead. Use more bar soap for handwashing than soap that is in plastic or in a pump bottle. Use more washable towels than paper towels (which are not recyclable). Use less single use products such as plastic cutlery, straws and plastic cups. This doesn’t mean that you never use these things ever again but reduce their use as much as you can. Reducing food waste whenever possible will also help out how much trash your family generates each week.

A good way to figure out where to reduce in your own home is to take a look at what is in your trash. If you take a look at what is going into the garbage the most, for example, paper plates can fill up a trash can pretty fast, you can make adjustments on what you are purchasing and throwing away. If you have a lot of paper plates going into the trash, think about not using paper plates and using real plates. Look at see if there are recyclables going into the trash and remember to discuss with your family what can be recycled. It takes time to make changes and sometimes change is hard so taking it one step at a time is the best way. If we make one change a month we won’t feel as overwhelmed. For more information on recycling or disposing materials, go to the Lyon County website at www.lyonco.org or give us a call at (507) 532-8210. And remember, the hardest thing to do is to not fill up those empty spaces in our homes with a lot of new things that you will need to dispose of later.

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