Celebrating Earth Day

School-RecyclingBy Morgan Olsen, Salt Lake County Recycling Office

Earth Day, on April 22, is the one day a year when everyone wants to do something to give back. One simple, accessible and important thing we can all do is recycle.

Recycling is sometimes thought of as hard or complicated, but it can be much easier than we make it out to be. There are three main categories of material that go into our recycling bins: paper, plastic containers, and metal.

Paper makes up more of the landfill than any other one thing, in fact it’s more than 25% of the landfill’s content. But it doesn’t need to be! All paper can be recycled – your morning newspaper, your junk mail, old magazines and printer paper. Additionally, all your cardboard can be recycled!  So toss that empty box of spaghetti, the box your toothpaste came in and your finished cereal box in that recycling bin. Unless the paper is fused with plastic or contaminated with food, it can be recycled!

Plastic recycling has been made easy these days in Salt Lake County. There is only one question you need to ask yourself before tossing it in the blue bin — is it a plastic container? All empty plastic containers can be recycled in the county, regardless of the number of plastic or whether it has the chasing arrows on it.  This includes all bottles, tubs, jugs and jars. Think of your empty soda or shampoo bottle, a yogurt or butter tub, a milk or laundry detergent jug, or a peanut butter or mayo jar, and once you’ve emptied them, they can all be recycled! One last note: plastic bags can be recycled, but it’s best to take them back to the grocery store with you, placing them in the designated box next to the door.

Metal can be recycled more fully and saves more energy and other resources than any other material.  In fact, recycling one aluminum can saves 95% of the energy that is used to create the same can from virgin materials. That’s enough energy to run your TV for two hours! Additionally, you can recycle all your tin cans, bottle caps, jar lids, and all other household metals.

SLTrib-1Recycling not only saves the natural resources those products are made from, but also reduces energy consumption, water usage and air pollution – all things we care a lot about here in this valley. So this year on Earth Day, give back in a big way, by doing something simple: recycle.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams issued a 20% Challenge, asking all county residents to step up their game and help us catch up to the national recycling average. We aren’t there yet, but we’re getting close! For more information on what goes in your recycling bin and to take the Mayor’s 20% Challenge, visit www.recycle.slco.org. 

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