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Drink Local: Reduce Your Water Footprint

By drinking local water, you can reduce your water footprint and your carbon footprint.  Bottled water has several negative impacts on the environment.  Bottle production, distribution, packaging, and transportation contribute to unnecessary water and carbon footprints.  Additionally, most plastic water bottles are not recycled, contributing to the waste stream and often ending up as litter and ocean pollution.  Drinking water in the US is well tested and safe to drink.  Drink local and avoid bottled water!

Check out this Bottled Water Footprint infographic by Wheels for Wishes to learn more:

Reduce Your Water Footprint by Wheels For Wishes

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

Green Holiday Guide

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SLCgreen’s “Green Holiday Guide.” It’s snow bunny approved.

 

During the holiday rush, sustainability may not be the first thing on your mind. Fortunately, there are a number of measures you can take to ensure your festivities are more eco-friendly and sustainable.

We’ve compiled these actions into a convenient Green Holiday Guide. No matter how you celebrate, we at SLCgreen hope you find this information helpful and wish you the best of times and a very happy New Year!

Christmas Trees

One great option for your home Christmas tree is a live native potted tree. When you’re done with it, plant it after the holidays or let it live on as a house plant. As an added bonus, a live tree will absorb carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen for cleaner air.

Check with your local nursery or garden center for advice on the best type of tree, depending if you are planning to replant or keep it inside.  If you can, hold off and plant it in late March or early April. This will increase the tree’s chance of surviving long term.

If you go for a cut tree, use the compost bin to dispose of it after the holidays. Make sure to cut it up so it fits in the bin and remove any tinsel or non-organic decorations (Just be sure to dispose of it before the wintertime suspension of compost bin collection, beginning the week of January 22, 2018).

If you can’t cut up your tree for the compost bin, no problem. Leave it curbside and we’ll be by during the month of January to collect it.

No matter what you do, do not burn your tree. Burning anything during the winter is horrible for our air quality (Burning during “air action” days is also against State regulation and violates Salt Lake County Health Department rules).

Energy efficiency

When stringing up lights this season, think “less is more.” For the lights you do put up, go for LED lights, which are 80-95% more efficient than traditional bulbs and will last longer. (This is a good reminder to switch out any other traditional light bulbs you may have in your home for LEDs too!)

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LED lights look great on me!

Make sure you have your lights on a timer so they only are on when you want them to be. Some LED Christmas lights are even solar powered! Read more

Salt Lake City’s Mitch Davis Recognized for Innovative Waste & Recycling Work

Ever wonder how Salt Lake City successfully diverts over 32,000 tons of material annually from the landfill?

It’s a big undertaking– involving operations, education, outreach, and policy. And our amazing staff are at the heart of it!

Today we’re thrilled to announce that one of our own, Mitch Davis, is being recognized nationally for his efforts by Waste360, a recycling trade group serving 90,000 professionals.

The Waste360 “40 Under 40” awards program “recognizes inspiring and innovative professionals under the age of 40 whose work in waste, recycling and organics have made a significant contribution to the industry.“

“This award is a great honor in the waste & recycling industry,” said Lance Allen, Waste & Recycling Division Director. “We are very proud of Mitch and what he brings to our team and community.”

Mitch started his career with Salt Lake City as an intern in 2008 while finishing up his degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Utah. His passion for waste diversion and public service has been the driving force behind the success of many of our waste diversion strategies ever since.

When Mitch started with Salt Lake City he wanted to, “make a difference.” Because of his hard work and dedication, he most certainly has achieved that goal! Here’s how: Read more

Climate Week: Five Actions You Can Take Today!

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Climate action starts with you! Here are five simple actions you can take today to begin reducing your climate impact.

1. Use Cold Water Detergent and Cold Water Setting for Clothes Washer

Emissions-Icon Pounds of CO2 Reduced Annually: 1,270
Money-Icon Annual Savings: $92

Heating water consumes a lot of energy – 90% of the total needed to wash your clothes – always use a cold-water setting and detergent.

2. Replace Your Furnace Filter and Manage Your Thermostat

Emissions-Icon Pounds of CO2 Reduced Annually: 1,800
Money-Icon Annual Savings: $124

Every degree F saves 3% on cooling / heating – set to 60 at night or unoccupied during winter and 78 in summer.  Dirty furnace filters waste energy and should be changed every three months.

3. Properly Inflate Your Tires and Ride with Hive

Emissions-Icon Pounds of CO2 Reduced Annually: 400 (tires only)
Money-Icon Annual Savings: $95 (tires only)

Regularly check and inflate your tires to improve MPGs by 3% – more tips to save fuel at FuelEconomy.gov.
SLC residents, visit RideWithHive.com for details on the City’s discounted transit pass.  Just $42 / month, a 50% discount, gets you unlimited rides on the bus, TRAX and S-Line.

4. Replace at Least Five Lights with LEDs

Emissions-Icon Pounds of CO2 Reduced Annually: 500 (per five lights)
Money-Icon Annual Savings: $40 (per five lights)

90% of the energy used lighting an incandescent bulb goes towards generating heat, not light.  LED lighting is the cheapest lifecycle cost option – purchasing plus operating costs – and Rocky Mountain Power offers great incentives for homes and businesses.

5. Use Reusable Water Bottles and Mugs – Plus, Downsize Your Garbage Can

Emissions-Icon Pounds of CO2 Reduced Annually: 580 (Reusable Drink Containers Only)
Money-Icon Annual Savings: $150 (Reusable Drink Containers Only)

Manufacturing bottles, cans and other drink containers takes energy and creates emissions.  Reduce your footprint and save cash by using reusables.  SLC residents should Google SLCgreen for many more waste tips and additional ways to save, like downsizing your garbage can.  Moving from a 90-gallon bin to a 40-gallon bin will save you $87 / year on your trash bill.  There is also a 60-gallon option that will save you money.

Earth Day Impact: Reduce & Reuse

Are you wondering what you can do to reduce your impact this Earth Day — and every day?

More than 1,300 tons of garbage is buried in the Salt Lake Valley Landfill every day. Here are a few simple things you can do to limit your impact.

Reusable Products

reusable bagDitch the disposables! Embrace reusable bags when you go to the grocery store.

Say goodbye to expensive and wasteful plastic water bottles. Instead, swap in a reusable glass or stainless steel bottle. You can even purchase an insulated version to keep your drinks cool on hot summer days. Salt Lake City’s TapIt program boasts a network of businesses that will refill your bottle with fresh water, too!

And speaking of drinks, bring a reusable coffee mug to your local coffee shop. You’ll even get a discount on your next latte!

Avoid Overpackaging

Sure, those individually packaged mini carrots may save you a few seconds when you are packing lunches in the morning, but is that worth the extra money and wasted material?

Save some green and reduce your weekly waste by buying a large package instead, and placing them in reusable containers each day. More tips to green your lunch.

Reduce Junk Mail

We all get it, and we all hate it.

GlobalStewards.org has some tips to reduce the amount of unwanted mail you receive. In a few simple steps, you can cut out mass marketing mailers, catalogs and credit card offers!

You can also reduce your impact by going “paperless” for your monthly credit card, bank and utility statements.

Just getting started? Get more tips at SLCgreen.com.

We stopped by KUTV2 News on Earth Day to share these tips. Watch the video of the segment!

 

Enjoy a Green 4th of July!

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The Fourth of July is just around the corner, and SLCgreen staff have a few tips for residents who want to make their celebrations a little greener.

  1. Use durable goods instead of disposable. Please, just say “no” to disposable plates, cups and utensils. Instead, bring out the readily available dishes from your very own kitchen! Sure, they require more cleanup, but you’ll be saving money and reducing waste. If you need to use disposables:
    • Consider reusing disposable goods for another summer get-together to reduce your impact.
    • Please note that compostable plates and utensils are currently not accepted through Salt Lake City’s Curbside Compost Program (i.e. your tan can), so steer clear.
  2. Provide drinks in large dispensers. It’s going to be a steamy Fourth of July this year, but instead of offering bottled water (and all of the plastic waste that comes along with it), put out drink dispensers that can be used to fill up your guests reusable water bottles or recyclable cups. This concept can also apply to any other beverages offered at your celebration – fewer bottles means less waste!
  3. Skip the personal fireworks. A controversial suggestion, we know. But the air pollution from fireworks can be tough on our valley’s air quality. Even sparklers have high concentrations of air pollution (read the scientific study). Consider air-friendly decorations that can be stored and reused next year instead. Need inspiration? The Daily Green has some great ideas.
  4. Choose air-friendly transportation. Can you bike or walk to your 4th of July celebration, or your yearly neighborhood fireworks show? Many homes in Salt Lake City offer a nice view from the convenience of your very own roof! We suggest that you skip the headache of parking and help reduce air pollution on a holiday that is especially prone to it. At the very least – carpool!
  5. Use a gas grill instead of charcoal. Propane gas grills heat up faster and have a whole lot less polluting emissions than charcoal grills. Read on to learn more at Earth911.com.
  6. Recycle, of course!  When the party is over, be sure to recycle plastics, cardboard, cans and glass in the appropriate containers. Salt Lake City residents can put most recyclable materials into their blue curbside bin, and residents that subscribe to curbside glass service have an easy way to get the job done. Glass dropoff sites are also located throughout Salt Lake City.

More Resources

The Daily Green has a very comprehensive Fourth of July Green Guide available on their website. We particularly love:

While you are there, also take a look at their Declare Your Independence piece.

Before “Recycle” Comes…

Recycle Symbol on Paper

Reduce and Reuse!

Did you know that over 1,300 tons of garbage is buried in the Salt Lake Valley Landfill every day?

Salt Lake City residents already have access to no less than four waste bins (garbage, mixed recycling, compost/yard waste and glass). Proper use of these bins is crucial to waste diversion, which is a technical term that basically means that the more waste we recycle in one form or another, the less garbage fills up the landfill.

But before recycling comes reduce and reuse. Everyone can reduce waste by incorporating some simple choices in their everyday shopping patterns.

Strategies include:

  • Reusing items more frequently
  • Buying items that last longer (skip the disposables)
  • Not buying items you don’t need (save waste AND money)
  • Paying attention to excessive packaging on items

We have some great tips on reusable products like water bottles and tote bags, reducing junk mail and environmentally preferable purchasing on our SLCGreen website.

Do you have any questions? Let us know!

Why Glass Recycling is Great

by Nayethzi Hernandez, SLCgreen intern, and Sophia Nicholas

With all the news of recycling markets changing, as we discussed in our previous post, it’s more important than ever to practice Reducing, Reusing, Refusing (single-use products) and Recycling Right.

So it’s worth thinking about how we as consumers can make a difference and shift our habits to consume different products with less packaging and more recycling-friendly materials.

That’s why we’re excited to talk about glass!

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Glass bottles ready to be turned into something new!

In Utah, we’re fortunate to have a local glass recycling facility, Momentum Recycling. In Salt Lake City, you can participate by signing up for curbside pickup! You can also take your glass to a convenient drop-off location.

With nearly 5,600 subscribed households, 78 active drop-off areas, and dozens of businesses participating in glass recycling, the Salt Lake City community is already headed in a very sustainable direction. Read more

Earth Week Day 5: Common Recycling Mistakes

Are you making these recycling mistakes-

It’s Earth Week!

Each day this week SLCgreen will post different tips and activities to challenge you to reduce your impact on the Earth.

To build off our waste theme, today we are looking at some common recycling mistakes.

Below is a list of common recycling errors and how to fix them.

Read more