Thanksgiving this year will be different as we all work together to keep our community safe. We reduce risk of spreading the COVID-19, and invent creative ways to keep connected to our families virtually while still being able to share in the traditional Thanksgiving traditions. As we all work through reimagining the holiday, the city’s Resident Equity Advisors are hard at work making sure everyone in our community – families, elderly, children, and all individuals suffering from food hardship have access to a healthy, nutritious food.
One in nine Utahns struggles with hunger, and equitable food access is still a major concern in our community. This year, we’re taking time to reflect on our connections with food. Food is a basic human right and is on of the foundational pieces of community resilience and SLCgreen’s focus areas. Our department launched the Resident Food Equity Advisors program to engage our vulnerable communities and empower them through shared decision making.
Read on to find out more about what these advisors have been working on!
What started out as a small idea to beautify one of Salt Lake City’s glass collection sites has become a highly-visible statement piece in Liberty Park. To celebrate the importance of glass recycling in the community, Salt Lake City and Momentum Recycling unveiled on Nov. 18 a new dumpster at the Liberty Park drop-off location featuring a hand-painted, wrap-around mural of Utah red rock arches by local artist Josh Scheuerman.
The piece brings a splash of public art to a frequently-used recycling location, trading the basic blue of the original dumpster for a bright mural paying tribute to Utah’s iconic natural landscapes.
“As a native Utahn, I feel responsible for the wild and natural places,” Scheuerman said. “I believe it’s vitally important for new technology and information to help increase recycling alongside local art.”
Except for maybe Earth Day, America Recycles Day is one of our favorites. November 15 is all about Recycling. It’s particularly worth celebrating this year because, even during a pandemic, recycling is one of the easiest and best ways to help the planet.
According to the EPA, Americans have drastically improved our recycling recovery rate – from only 7% in 1960, to 35.2% in 2017. Recycling and composting help us reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, conserves natural resources and energy, and prevents pollution. You can find out exactly how much energy is saved when you recycle with this calculator from the EPA! On top of the environmental benefits, recycling also creates well-paying jobs and supports the economy.
In Salt Lake City, we do our part to help improve recycling. With compost and recycling efforts, we are able to divert 42% of our waste from the landfill. In August 2020, we recycled 606.1 tons of your recyclables. Recycling at this rate helps avoid 880 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. It also helps save the energy equivalent to powering 79 homes, and the daily water needs of 12,205 people!
Halloween is an exciting time of year, but it’s an event that is often associated with a lot of garbage. This year, we’re all having to take steps to protect our community from the coronavirus. But that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop – plus, changing up the Halloween traditions gives us a chance to make the holiday more sustainable!
Due to rising transmission of COVID-19 in Salt Lake County, there are several restrictions in place to help stop the spread. The previous color-coding phased guidelines are no longer being used; however Salt Lake City is in a high level of transmission. The new public health guidelines include:
Gatherings must be limited to 10 people or fewer
Masks must be worn at all times indoors, and at all times outdoors when social distancing is not possible.
If you’re curious about how to keep your family safe from COVID-19 during Halloween, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued several recommendations including keeping your Halloween celebrations limited to your household, or carving pumpkins and decorating outside with smaller groups at a safe distance. The CDC also provides guidance on safe trick-or-treat options.
Stir Things Up!
Although Halloween events are time-honored family traditions, trick-or-treating, costumes, decorations, and other Halloween-related activities can produce a lot of waste. But why not consider the new safety constraints a little extra motivation to be more eco-friendly?
When planning your Halloween this year, remember to reduce, reuse, and recycle whenever possible! Plus, keep in mind these creative ways to have a green Halloween.
Salt Lake City’s urban forest suffered notable damage in the September 8 wind storm. The carefully maintained forest consists of nearly 85,000 public trees.
Sadly, the City lost approximately 1,500 public trees from city parks, the cemetery, park strips, and medians. We estimate that another 3,000 public trees were damaged and are in need of repair– on top of the private trees from yards that were lost or damaged.
This is certainly a sad occurrence for our environment and community– especially if you lost a beloved tree.
However, as Urban Forester Tony Gliot describes in the video below, storms are a natural part of our ecosystem and we have the opportunity to come together and re-plant many of these trees that were lost.
Salt Lake City’s Urban Forestry Division works hard to care for our existing trees and to help plant more. Even before the storm, tree planting was a priority for our city. Not only do city trees help make our streets beautiful, they help make Salt Lake City more resilient.
Urban forests are critical parts of green infrastructure, providing natural air and water filtration, mitigating the Urban Heat Island effect, and helping with carbon drawdown. As a result, trees can help make Salt Lake City a pleasant and climate resilient community.
Want to learn more about Salt Lake City’s urban forest and how you can help support our trees? Read on!
Trees vs. Climate Change
The green infrastructure provided by trees provides something we all love in the summer: shade. According to the EPA, the maximum temperatures of shaded surfaces can be between 20–45°F cooler than unshaded areas. This is especially important in cities where buildings, roads, and city infrastructure absorb the daytime heat. The absorbed heat effectively warms the entire city, making cities warmer than surrounding areas resulting in what is called an Urban Heat Island.
By making cities a little cooler in the summer, trees and vegetation help us cut down on the energy we use to cool buildings – and the associated carbon use and pollution. Trees are also able to help filter the air pollutants and sequester the carbon dioxide that we do produce. The EPA also notes that trees absorb rainwater, which is an important part of protecting our stormwater.
Recognizing these benefits is one reason why Salt Lake City has a long-term Urban Forest Action Plan. Check out the video from last year’s Summer Planning Series, which discussed the benefits of trees and how the City is working to increase our canopy to serve our entire community.
If you love garbage trucks as much as we do (and we definitely do!), then you’ve probably noticed the different designs we have on the sides of our trucks. Every time the City purchases a set of new refuse trucks, SLCgreen designs an informational decal to help keep our community up to date about waste & recycling. Whether it’s a reminder to not put plastic bags in your recycling bin, or quotes from famous conservationists to inspire recycling, our truck wraps give us a chance to have some fun and help educate Salt Lake City residents about the importance of proper recycling.
Your inner child will love our latest truck wraps, which playfully remind everyone why recycling is the way to go!
So far 2020 has been a record year for climate-related natural disasters. Alongside the global coronavirus pandemic, severe weather like what we experienced with last week’s wind storm, record breaking temperatures in August, and fires burning throughout the Western United States, have shown us first-hand the effects of climate change in our backyards.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to call attention to climate change– and the urgency of taking action at all levels.
We’re in luck because the Fourth Annual Utah Climate Week is coming up from September 21 – September 27 and offers everyone the platform not only to learn and engage, but also to call attention to climate change during what has seemed like a year of jumping from one immediate crisis to another.
So many people are struggling and so many are exhausted with all 2020 is bringing to bear on our communities. We hear that and we feel it too.
And that’s exactly why we must continue looking at the big picture, and to draw the connections between immediate events and the larger harm we’re doing to our planet.
This year’s Climate Week will be a little different– there won’t be in-person events, but there are a suite of interesting and engaging events taking place online and we hope to see you at one or more of them.
Then join us on social media to highlight why you care about climate change. Use the tags #UtahClimateWeek and #ActOnClimate to call attention to this issue!
If you’re not a big social media user, take the opportunity to do some learning, then perhaps have a conversation with your friends, family, or other networks. Whatever you do: Learn. Activate. Engage. Let’s go!
We’ve been involved in planning and coordinating one event in particular and we’d like to invite you to attend.
The Utah Sustainable Business Coalition and the Salt Lake City e2 Business Program are hosting a panel discussion on how local businesses of all sizes are working to improve sustainability at their companies.
As we have noted in previous blogposts, sustainability and resiliency intersect with environmental, social, economic, and equity work.
Communities of color are disproportionately affected by climate change. In Utah, the health threats of air pollution are the most obvious example. On a global scale, climate change and pollution are affecting us all, especially coupled with COVID-19, starting with communities who are already experiencing systemic racism and inequity.
Because these areas of life are directly connected, it is important to take action on every level. Individuals; businesses; and local, state, and national governments have an important role to play in addressing inequity and supporting sustainability.
This week, the City has been hard at work clearing roadways and helping with emergency response related to the wind damage and power outages. Here are a few things to keep in mind about debris removal:
City Trees: City trees are located along the parkstrips and medians throughout the city. If there are limbs and debris from these trees that you have collected, please place these materials at the curbside for cleanup.
Trees in Your Yard: If trees on your property have fallen and you’ve started the clean up process, please wait to put these materials at the curb. Residents have a few options for handling this yard waste. The City will be moving through neighborhoods to remove debris. However, this will take some time.
Salt Lake Valley Landfill: If you are eager to remove the waste from your property, we appreciate the help clearing our city. The Salt Lake Valley Landfill has waived the tipping fees for residential yard waste through September 23. Please note that commercial contractors will still be charged for green waste disposal. Also note that lines may be long, so consider going to the Landfill at an off-peak time.
Need help clearing trees? The City has partnered with United Way 2-1-1 to help connect residents with volunteers to help clear heavy trees and branches. Those needing assistance should contact or call 2-1-1.
After not being able to service Tuesday’s routes, our Waste & Recycling teams are back on schedule, collecting waste, recycling, and compost. Make sure to have your containers out by 7 a.m. on your collection day so we can service your home.
As we collectively work to respond to the third emergency Salt Lake City has experienced since the beginning of the pandemic, we will continue to provide information about resources that are available in our community.
Earlier this spring we experienced a period of clean air due to lock-downs put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, Salt Lake City’s summer air quality has been recently impacted by smoke from nearby and regional wildfires, as well as from higher ozone pollution that is typical in the summer.
Bad air quality threatens everyone’s health, particularly those with sensitive respiratory systems. The effects of bad air even have the potential to make COVID-19 even worse.Your lungs are already irritated and inflamed due to pollution, and this makes them more susceptible to infections like COVID.
Ironically, the pandemic – coupled with rising temperatures caused by climate change – are also behind the record number of human-caused fires in Utah. The feedback loop linking pandemic, fires, and bad air is disturbing, but there are ways we can take actions to help protect the air.
The state-of-the-art facility cost the company $17 million to construct at an existing site of theirs located in western Salt Lake City at 3405 West 900 South.
The facility is outfitted with the latest recycling technology and equipment. This matters because consumer material continues to change at a rapid pace — what you were putting in your recycling bin 15 or 20 years ago is probably a bit different than what you’re using it for today. The sheer quantity of recyclable material being processed has also gone up dramatically– and will only continue to grow. So we need facilities that can keep up!