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Going Green at Home: 8 Sustainable Actions You Can Do From Home

Although staying at home during a beautiful Utah spring is hard, social distancing and isolation are critical to “flattening the curve” as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads. Read more about how to prepare for COVID-19 on the City’s webpage.

Even though we are spending more time inside, we can all take direct actions to help protect the environment this spring.

8 Sustainable actions from the comfort of your own home:

  1. Fix the thing on your Fix-it List: While Utah Recycling Alliance regularly hosts Fix-It Clinics for the more challenging appliances and tools, there are many ways to tackle the smaller tasks from home. Consider sewing that button back on your shirt or tinkering with your old record player. Any small action you take to make use out of the old rather than buying new will help the planet.
  2. Lights Out for Birds: Although Salt Lake City’s Tracy Aviary is temporarily closed due to COVID-19 concerns, you can still show your love for birds. Two-thirds of migratory bird species migrate at night. Take the Lights Out Salt Lake pledge and turn off your lights between 11:00pm and 6:00am during March-May and August-September to help the birds find their way.
  3. Recycle Right: Recycling is one of the most important ways individuals can reduce their impact on the environment. Because there is an expected increase in household waste while residents are practicing social distancing, it’s more important than ever to recycle right. Check out our curbside recycle guides for a refresher. You can also watch this video from Ashley on our Education Team explaining what goes into the blue and brown cans.
  4. Turn Your Garbage into Art: Art projects are a great way to engage with difficult subjects. For example, the Washed Ashore nonprofit turns ocean plastic into beautiful sculptures to draw attention to plastic pollution. Check out Clever Octopus, the local Creative Reuse Center, for more inspiration on how to make use of old materials.
  5. Don’t Waste Food: Food choices make up 25% of Utah’s household carbon footprint. Don’t let food go to waste. Find out more about Composting and Dining with Discretion here!
  6. Plant Trees – With Your Phone! You can help reforestation projects through social media. Starting April 22, Cities4Forests is hosting a global photo contest. They have pledged to plant 1 tree for every photo. Find the participation rules here. You can also try out Forest, an app that keeps you on task and helps plant trees. You even get to choose the species of trees you’re planting!
  7. Go Pesticide Free! As you gear up for spring gardening, help protect the environment by going pesticide free. Take the pledge here! (we will be delayed in delivering a sign to you, but will do so as soon as possible!)
  8. Keep Your Carbon Footprint Low: Limited travel means lower carbon footprints. For those teleworking or staying home to protect our community, take comfort in knowing you are protecting public health and reducing your travel-related carbon emissions. You can take things one step further by implementing some of these energy saving actions at home.

BONUS ACTIONS:

  • Take the 2020 Census! The U.S. Census helps determine federal funding and resources for our community. Help ensure that Salt Lake City counts! You will receive an invitation with a unique ID number in the mail. This number can be used to take the 2020 Census online. More information is available here.

Let's Keep Connected


Our Director Vicki Bennett fosters kittens in her spare time. Here’s a picture of her current litter and their mama. (Looking for some animal love? If you’re home-bound and have the resources, now might be the perfect time to adopt or foster a cat or dog).


We hope everyone is doing as well as can be expected after a crazy week of pandemics and earthquakes. Here at the City, we’ve been working around the clock to ensure that vital operations and services are continuing, and to communicate with our residents and businesses with the latest information. 

We’ll aim to continue sending our weekly SLCgreen community newsletter with information that is helpful and relevant to you – whether that’s sustainability-related or more focused on public health and important resources at this time.

Please note that our City County Building office has gone to 100% telework, but we are working and responding to constituents via email and phone. Reach out at slcgreen@slcgov.com and we’ll connect you to the right person or do our best to answer your questions.

Our Waste & Recycling office is closed to the public, but you can also contact customer service staff at 801-535-6999 or by emailing slcwasteandrecycling@slcgov.com.

Waste & Recycling

All of your Salt Lake City waste services are continuing uninterrupted at this time (not even a 5.7 magnitude earthquake will deter us!) 

In fact, we’re expecting to see a significant increase in household waste with so many people staying home and practicing social distancing. You can help us by placing items in the correct container. Here’s our recycling page, our compost can page, and a video showing Ashley from our Education Team walking you through the “perfect” blue and brown bins. We appreciate your thoughtfulness in putting the right item in the right container.

Recycling may be a small act, but is something positive that we can all do right now.

The need for glass disposal is also expected to increase with more people staying at home and Momentum Recycling is here to help. You can use their free drop-off glass dumpsters or sign up for $7/month curbside service

We are currently also operating our Call 2 Haul bulk waste program, so if being home-bound puts you in the mood to do some serious de-cluttering, schedule a collection.

Community Resources and Updates

We’ve spent the week helping compile information as it relates to the impacts of the current COVID outbreak on our community. Here are a few resources we wanted to share:


As the Mayor said, this is a time of unprecedented challenge for our community. But we’re also incredibly proud of the ways our community has already started coming together to support those who are most vulnerable. Let’s continue practicing social distancing, but also social grace. We can all use some support, virtual hugs, kindness, and laughter these days.

Until next time,

Your SLCgreen team

P.S. Want more Salt Lake City-specific COVID updates? Follow SLCGov and SLCMayor on Twitter. 

Welcome Chris Bell!

Photograph of new Waste & Recycling Division Director, Chris Bell.
Chris Bell joined Salt Lake City as the Waste & Recycling Division Director in January 2020.

SLCgreen is excited to introduce Chris Bell, Salt Lake City Waste & Recycling’s new Director.

The Sustainability Department is comprised of two divisions – the Energy & Environment (E&E) Division, which is the policy division that houses our energy, local food, business engagement, internal policy, and communications roles. And then there is the Waste & Recycling Division which is the operational side of our department. This division is responsible for the daily collection of garbage, trash, and recycling, and other special programs.

So we’re happy to welcome Chris to the Department where he’ll lead the Waste & Recycling Division.

Chris’ career in recycling started almost 20 years ago. He is passionate about using his skills to have a positive impact on the environment and is guided by his philosophy to create a strong legacy of conservation. Chris believes that building a sustainable future is our collective responsibility – and has the added benefit of being good business.

Chris’ work in recycling has taken him from Utah to Colorado to Texas and back. Beginning in paper recycling and moving on though operational and commercial management, Chris is highly qualified in recycling and waste management. He is driven to maintain a strong safety record as well as improve operations to deliver outstanding service to the community.

We are thrilled to have Chris on board to help guide our City towards zero waste and a strong recycling and composting system.

The Waste & Recycling Director oversees 60 staff working to collect garbage, recycling, and yard waste from over 42,000 residents in Salt Lake City.

Join us in giving Chris a warm welcome to the SLCgreen team!

Electric Vehicle Usage Increasing in Salt Lake City

Transportation accounts for nearly 50% of the pollutants that accumulate during inversions. Reducing emissions from cars is a great way to protect our air. Electrified transportation is a step towards cleaner air, healthier communities, and a stronger economy.

Graphic depicts air pollution statistics on orange clouds. Text reads: 
"Percent pollution reduced by an EV along the Wasatch Front. 57% PM10, 81% PM2.5, 98% SOx, 90% NOx, 99% CO, 99% VOC."
Electric Vehicles can significantly reduce air pollution.

EVs in Salt Lake City

Luckily, more and more Utahns are investing in electric vehicles (EV). Based on the number of unique charging sessions at Salt Lake City Corporation’s 36 Level 2 public EV stations (not including those at the Airport), there has been an exciting uptick in EV use in Salt Lake City.

In 2019, there were 21,371 unique charging sessions (meaning a car charged for longer than 5 minutes) at Salt Lake City public stations, compared to 12,870 in 2018.

Salt Lake City is following the national trend of growing EV use. According to the Edison Electric Institute, there are close to 1.5 million EVs being driven in the U.S. as of December 2019. Utah has seen its share grow to approximately 2% of total vehicles now comprised of electric, plug-in electric, or hybrid vehicles, and we want to continue pushing that number higher.

With EVs becoming more popular, Salt Lake City is working to strengthen the City’s EV infrastructure. In 2018, SLCgreen and Utah Clean Energy created the Electric Transportation Roadmap. Since then, Salt Lake City has installed 36 Level 2 charging stations at sites around the city, plus over a dozen at the Airport. These stations are free to use for 2 to 4 hours depending on the station.

Support Fellow EV Drivers: Don’t Hog the Charging Stations

Salt Lake City is pleased to see that charging sessions have increased significantly since the stations were initially installed. Up until now, Salt Lake City has not had to enforce the charging time limit. However, because more people are using the stations, drivers need to be mindful of their fellow EV users and respect the time limit.

In 2017, 1,500 sessions exceeded the time limit. That number has grown to 4,600 in 2019. While these only represent a small portion of the total charging sessions (80% of sessions were within the limit), it is still an inconvenience for other drivers who may need to fuel up.

Graphic shows graph of how many sessions exceed posted time limit.

Due to the growing demand for charging stations, the time limits will be actively enforced beginning March 9. Please be courteous to your fellow EV drivers and be mindful of the time limit. Drivers who exceed the posted time limit may be ticketed $75.

Vehicle charging usage may be monitored via the ChargePoint cloud system to determine if a vehicle has overstayed the posted parking time limit.

The public may also report potential EV stall overstays to the Compliance main line at 801-535-6628.

Clean Machines

Although electric cars still rely on electricity which is not (yet) wholly derived from renewable resources, they are still cleaner than gas-powered cars. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the average gasoline-only car produces 381 grams of CO2e per mile, while the plug-in hybrid produces only 191 grams and a battery EV produces only 123.

Graphic compares average CO2 emissions of gas-powered, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles. Stats are described in above paragraph.
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Salt Lake City to Begin Enforcing Time Limits at Its Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

To support the adoption of electric vehicles, which significantly reduce air pollution and carbon emissions, Salt Lake City has installed 36 Level 2 electric vehicle (EV) charging ports at sites around the city over several years.

Beginning in 2018, the City eliminated charging fees at these stations to encourage usage. Time limits are posted at each site and vary from 2 to 4 hours. Vehicles must be actively charging to park in the EV station stalls.

Salt Lake City continues to monitor usage and we are pleased to report that charging sessions have increased significantly since the stations were initially installed.  In 2019, there were 21,371 charging sessions at Salt Lake City public stations, compared to 12,870 in 2018.

Charging sessions have continued to increase each year at Salt Lake City’s public electric vehicle charging stations.
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However, charging session data shows that 20% of users are overstaying the posted time restrictions, which limits availability of the stations to others. This is particularly the case at Downtown and Sugar House stations.

Therefore, in order to reduce congestion and ensure stations are available to those who need to charge, Salt Lake City’s Compliance Division will begin enforcing the existing, posted time limitations at Salt Lake City’s EV stations beginning the week of March 9, 2020.

Vehicle charging usage may be monitored via the ChargePoint cloud system to determine if a vehicle has overstayed the posted parking time limit.

The public may also report potential EV stall overstays to the Compliance main line at 801-535-6628.

Visitors who overstay the posted time limit may incur a citation with a $75 charge per City ordinance 12.56.205F.

Compliance will institute an initial 4-week grace period during which first-time violations will receive a warning first.  

Read more

Pesticide Free Tip: Prune now to prevent pests

by Sydney Boogaard

Winter is coming to a close as we begin to pack away our heavy coats and gloves. We may be sad to see the skis go back into the basement, but soon we’ll bring out the mountain bikes and hiking shoes. And as the temperature begins to rise we can head back into our gardens and yards.

Tree budding

Our trees and plants have been snoozing the winter away and it is time for them to wake back up. Just like us, our trees are a little groggy and sleepy, from their long nap. The harsh elements of the winter have damaged and weakened their branches and stems. This makes them even more susceptible to pest invasion. Nonetheless, with a little tender loving care we can help rejuvenate our trees, keeping them strong, happy, healthy and pesticide free.

Join our #PesticideFreeSLC campaign and pledge to keep our yards healthy and our bodies safe! Check out our resource guide for tips and visit our past blogs on organic landscaping to get started.

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Intermountain Sustainability Summit 2020

Intermountain Sustainability Summit logo with slogan "Enabling Action" on blue, yellow, and green banner. Banner also features photos of attendees from past summits.

The 11th annual Intermountain Sustainability Summit is less than a month away! Hosted at Weber State University’s Sustainability Practices and Research Center (SPARC), this year’s Summit will be held on March 19th and 20th.

The 2-day event features workshops and lectures from leaders in sustainability. The Summit highlights sustainability solutions to help build resiliency and protect the environment and economy.

Highlighting Clean Energy Communities

The Intermountain Sustainability Summit began as a way to bring students, professionals, and the public together to learn about sustainability topics including clean energy, infrastructure, and water conservation. The Summit unites non-profits, businesses, local governments, educators, students, and interested members of the public together for a variety of workshops, presentations, and networking opportunities.

This year, A full roster of speakers is lined up for the event, including SLCgreen’s very own Senior Energy and Climate Program Manager, Christopher Thomas!

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