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Recycling: This Earth Day, Let’s Get Back to Basics

It’s #EarthWeek in Salt Lake City! We’re excited to bring you a range of content to inspire action on behalf of our planet. As part of that, we were excited to contribute a blog post to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality about recycling. There have been some changes in the industry in the last year and it all reminds us to “get back to basics: reduce, reuse, and recycle right.” Read on!

Contamination Plastic Bags

Plastic bag “contamination” at a local recycling facility. Help us reduce, reuse, and recycle right!

by Sophia Nicholas, SLCgreen Communications Manager

Recycling is one of the most common sense practices to conserve resources and care for the Earth.

So this Earth Day—let’s get back to basics and take a deep dive on what’s going on with recycling these days and what you as an environmentally-conscious person should do to “recycle right.”

Did you know that most of the items you put in the recycling bin get sent to Asia to be processed into new material? Those water bottles get turned into fleece, cardboard into paper bags, and milk jugs into . . . new milk jugs.

A large majority of this material is processed in China.  Or, I should say, was.

You may have heard that China is no longer accepting the world’s waste as of January 2018. They were previously processing roughly half of the world’s plastic, metal, and paper recyclables. Their ban is part of an effort to clean up their environment and not become the home of “foreign garbage.” We applaud China’s strengthening of their environmental laws, policies, and procedures.

However, in the short term, the Chinese ban is causing recycling vendors and processors worldwide to search for new markets for some of the material China no longer wants. This includes lower-quality plastics and paper. China also doesn’t want “contamination”—which refers to non-recyclable items being mixed up with recyclable items, as well as dirty and unwashed recyclables.

READ MORE ON THE DEQ BLOG

Eliminating Food Waste Helps the Earth and the Hungry

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Welcome to SLCgreen Connections, an occasional series highlighting SLCgreen’s fantastic local partners—the people and organizations with whom we work closely to make Salt Lake City a greener, more vibrant, and sustainable city!

by Ardyn Ford, SLCgreen intern

It is the rideshare of philanthropy: simple, quick, and on your own time. Designed with the fast-paced nature of the modern world in mind, Food Rescue US makes it easy to make a significant difference without overbooking your calendar.

Currently, Americans waste 40 billion pounds of food every year. This translates to 40% of the food supply. On the other side of this waste stands 50 million food insecure Americans who are unsure where their next meal is coming from. If you do the math, you’ll discover that the food being wasted could feed 36 million people three meals a day. There is a clear disconnect here.

Food waste is also a large source of carbon pollution–that includes all the wasted energy it took to grow, transport, and package the food in the first place, as well as the direct emissions rotting food produces in landfills.

So this Earth Week, learn more about what this unique organization is doing about it– and how you can get involved!

Read more

Organic Alternatives to Chemical Pesticides

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by Sydney Boogaard, spring intern

Why use alternatives to pesticides?

If you have the privilege of having a lawn or garden, you aim to keep it lush, green, and pest free. In order to obtain this, many resort to the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. While these products may be effective, they are also harmful, not only to the ecosystem, but our own human health. Most fertilizers and pesticides are manufactured with chemicals that can hurt human health; as research has shown even regulated pesticides cause damage, and all the effects have not yet been studied.

Fortunately, there are cost-effective natural alternatives to pesticides and fertilizers that will help you attain that healthy pest free yard, all while being pesticide free. Join our #PesticideFreeSLC campaign and pledge to keep our yards healthy and our bodies safe! Read more

How is Salt Lake City Getting to 100%?

SLCgreen‘s Division Director Debbie Lyons and Program Manager Tyler Poulson are presenting a webinar to a national audience on April 19th detailing Salt Lake City’s ambitious climate goals. Wondering how we’re getting to net-100% clean electricity? Sign up to listen live or to access the recording!

As part of that, we’re also excited to be featured in the Sustainable City Network magazine. We’ve included an excerpt here. 

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Sign up for our April 19 webinar “Moving the Needle Innovative Climate Solutions in Salt Lake City” at: http://bit.ly/2qoCSi3

 

By Randy Rodgers
Publisher & Executive Editor, Sustainable City Network

Things are heating up in Salt Lake City, Utah. And not in a good way.

The city is located in a region of the U.S. that climate scientists say is warming at more than twice the national average. It would be bad enough if the only victim of that problem was the area’s $1.3 billion ski resort industry, but local leaders know the stakes are higher than that, as water reserves decline and air quality reaches dangerous levels.

As daunting as these threats appear, Salt Lake City’s municipal government has partnered with its local electric utility to make an historic commitment that could become a model for all communities facing the dire effects of climate change in the years to come. The city and Rocky Mountain Power have signed an agreement and drafted a plan to acquire all the community’s electricity from renewable sources by 2032, reducing emissions, saving water and improving air quality in the process.

Salt Lake City gets most of its water from snowmelt in the surrounding mountains, and the city’s water reserves are significantly below historical norms. Higher temperatures are also accelerating the production of ground-level ozone, an invisible, odorless gas that can cause permanent damage to the lungs. Last year the city’s air exceeded the federal ozone standard on more than 20 days.

City officials are bracing for more of the same.

“The climate models show us that we’ll probably get about the same amount of overall precipitation, but it’s going to be coming as rain rather than snow,” said Vicki Bennett, the city’s sustainability department director. That means more of the water runs off in the spring, making less of it available later in the year. She said rising temperatures tend to increase water demand, which only exacerbates the problem.

Last year the Salt Lake County Health Department released a Climate Adaptation Plan for Public Health, which warned of many other health concerns related to the rising temperatures and altered precipitation patterns caused by climate change.

READ MORE AT SUSTAINABLE CITIES NETWORK

Lights Out for Bird Migration

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Take the Lights Out SLC pledge to protect birds.

by Sydney Boogaard, spring intern

The Problem

Throughout the Earth’s history, plants and animal species have relied on the sun and moon’s orbital cycles to govern such behaviors as reproduction, sleep, nourishment, protection, and migration. But scientific evidence is indicating that human’s use of artificial light at night is negatively affecting many creatures and the world’s ecosystems.

Artificial light can have devastating effects on nocturnal animals, sea creatures, wetland habitats, and numerous bird species.

Birds, in particular, use moonlight and starlight to help navigate their flight path during migration and hunting. Nearly two-thirds of migratory birds use the cover of night to travel. Artificial light impedes their ability to stay on course. It causes them to wander off their route and become disoriented. They lose their sense of direction and wind up in the midst of city landscapes. This puts them at risk for colliding with reflective and illuminated windows, buildings, and towers.

Every year millions of birds are killed via collisions caused by artificial light. Migrating birds also rely on signals from the environment to cue their departure. Artificial light can cause them to migrate too soon or too late, resulting in the loss of ideal conditions for nesting and feeding.

All of these reasons are why the “Lights Out” campaign got started.

Read more

Organic Ways to Care for Your Lawn & Soil

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by Sydney Boogaard, SLCgreen intern

Maintaining a traditional green and lush lawn in Utah’s arid climate can be a real challenge. Utah’s extreme weather can place a significant amount of stress on our plants, grasses, and vegetables. But with a little proactive care, we can keep our yards healthy, happy, and pesticide free.

The key to this is to remember that our soils, lawns, and gardens are dynamic living systems that depend on a healthy ecosystem to thrive.

The suggestions below are sustainable and natural practices that can help maintain that healthy ecosystem– and thereby a strong flourishing yard.

Don’t forget to join our #PesticideFreeSLC campaign and pledge to keep our yards healthy and our bodies safe

Read more

Salt Lake City Announces New Bulk Waste Program, Call 2 Haul

Salt Lake City issued the following media release on March 29, 2018.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New service aims to reduce illegal dumping, protect waterways, and allow for more scheduling flexibility. 

Salt Lake City today announced a new bulk waste program, Call 2 Haul, which will begin July 1, 2018. The new service replaces the former Neighborhood Cleanup program. Call 2 Haul allows residents more flexibility in scheduling a collection of bulk waste items, adds electronic waste and tire disposal, and will be available 12 months out of the year.

The program is available for any household that already receives weekly curbside collection services from Salt Lake City (single-family homes, duplexes, and triplexes).

Read more