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America Recycles Day


By LaVerne C. Paulson

Fri, Nov 2nd, 2012
Posted in All Columnists

LaVerne C. Paulson

Recycling Education Coordinator

America Recycles Day will celebrate its fifteenth anniversary November 15. It is a day set aside each year to educate people about the need for better recycling and motivate them to improve their recycling habits. I would venture to guess that everyone in Fillmore County participates in at least one form of recycling, while others may recycle a dozen materials or perhaps even more.

Some individuals will drop an occasional pop can or bottle in a recycling container while a another person diligently sets one or two containers on the curb to be collected each week. Others, without curbside service, bring their recyclables to the recycling center or deposit them in one of the many rural containers that are found throughout the county. Fillmore County collects tons and tons of recyclables each week and in a few, short days, these materials become new bottles, cans, paper, or other products made from recycled materials.

Here are a some ways that residents of Fillmore County are reducing, reusing, and recycling at the present time. When you are finished reading this paper, cut this article out and put it in a prominent place that will remind you to try some new ways of recycling. You may want to try one or two new ways to help our environment now and add one or two more to your list later in a month or two.

Remove plastic caps from bottles and jugs. The caps are made of a different form of plastic and melt at a different temperature. When caps find their way into the vats of melted plastic, they can contaminate the contents.

Do not recycle #5 plastic containers. Use them for leftovers, take them to the Cities, ship them to the east coast, donate them to a church kitchen, or put them in your garbage. Like your plastic bottle caps, #5 plastic melts at a different temperature and contaminates the useable plastic. Just keep them out of your recycling container.

Recycle #1 and #2 plastic only. These numbers are found inside the “chasing arrows” recycling symbol on the bottom of most plastic containers. Just because the container has the recycling symbol, does not make it recyclable. Only #1 and #2 are recyclable in Fillmore County.

Limit your use of styrofoam. Use a plastic or metal coffee cup while away from home. Take your own container (perhaps a #5) to a restaurant to bring home extra food. 25,000,000,000 styrofoam cups are used and landfilled each year....and they don’t decompose for hundreds of years. Styrofoam is not recyclable in Fillmore County.

Become a member of the “bring your own bag” brigade. The cloth or canvas bags are much stronger, can be washed, and with the different colors available, you can most likely match your outfit for the day. Hundreds of tons of plastic bags used in the United States each year is more than excessive. If you must use plastic, take them back to the store along with other bags used for dry-cleaning, bread, potatoes, or carrots. Of course, they must be clean and dry.

Recycle all newspaper, ads, magazines, cardboard, boxboard, empty paper towel tubes, junk mail, and books, including phone books. Shredded paper is also very recyclable, but make sure it is contained in a closed paper bag or cardboard box. Boxboard used in refrigerators and freezers is not recyclable due to the wax coating (not recycling friendly) that keeps them from falling apart if they pick up some moisture. These include fridge packs for soda, TV dinner boxes, and, of course, frozen pizza boxes. Please do not use plastic bags for recycling shredded paper or anything else.

Make a serious attempt to keep all plastic bags out of the recycling. It may be convenient to use them, but they cause all sorts of problems when they get to the Twin Cities and wrap around all the shafts, gears, and pulleys on the machines that separate the different recyclable items.

This is just the start of the list of habits to make you a better recycler. I am planning a second article on this in the near future. If there is a recycling subject that you would like me to share with the residents of the county, please contact me at lpaulson@co.fillmore.mn.us and I will try to include it in a future article.

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