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Posts from the ‘holiday’ Category

What We’re Thankful For

This graphic shows SLC’s residential recycling impact for one month (June 2019 at 585 tons). From Jan – Oct, we’ve collectively diverted 6,466 tons of recycling and 14,320 tons of green waste through our curbside programs.

There is always a lot to do during the holidays, but before we tuck into our plant-based Thanksgiving dinners or go find the second-hand treasures to complete our holiday look, we want to take a minute to count our blessings and thank you!

Without your engagement in sustainable actions and participation in SLCgreen’s programs, we could not have the positive impact we do.

Sometimes it’s all too easy to think “What I do doesn’t matter” or “What difference is one person going to make?” But when you take that individual impact and add it up on a community scale, those little sustainability actions really do make a difference!

Take recycling. We can vouch for the impact all of you have on the thousands of tons of waste diverted from our landfill each year to recycling and compost. 

So today, please join us in celebrating these aspects of our community that help us be stronger and more sustainable. 

We’re always thankful for recycling!

Salt Lake City is working towards our zero waste goals. In June, we recycled 585 tons of cans, bottles, paper, and cardboard. To put this in perspective, this saved the equivalent of 5,732 mature trees, 2,238 cubic yards of landfill airspace, enough water to meet the daily needs of 41,625 people, and enough electricity to fulfill the annual needs of 175 homes!  All this recycling helped us avoid 2,018 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which makes for cleaner air too!

Multiply those numbers by 12 and you have the average impact of Salt Lake City’s curbside recycling program over the year. 

Your recycling is making a difference! Thank you!

We know that recycling has been in the news a lot lately. It’s gotten confusing. Some people are even wondering whether it’s “worth it” anymore. Numbers like the above remind us just how important it is. Thank you for continuing to recycle.

Here are some easy ways to keep up the good recycling habits this holiday season:

We’re thankful for small businesses

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is #SmallBusinessSaturday. Buying locally-made goods supports our economy and is often a more sustainable way to shop. When you shop at a small local business, you support local artisans and business owners and reduce the environmental impacts associated with shipping and packaging!

Clever Octopus is ready for fun on #SmallBusinessSaturday!

Here are a few fun local events to check out:

Following Small Business Saturday, #GivingTuesday is around the corner. Giving Tuesday is an opportunity to give back to our community by donating money, goods, and volunteer time to worthy causes!

We’re thankful for sustainable holiday DIYs!

Unless you’re willing to keep your fake holiday tree for a very long time, real trees can actually be a more sustainable option. However, there is an even more sustainable – and entertaining – option: DIY Holiday Decor!

Check out these fun trees made with upcycled plastic bottles, bike wheels, and even old hubcaps! Another option is to make your tree using old tomato cages and fabric or fresh cut bows as a wrapping!

Fun holiday decorating can help us feel cozy and festive! We know it’s tempting to get your fireplace going. But before you do, please check the air quality and make sure there aren’t any restrictions. You can protect the air by eliminating vehicle idling and respecting burning restrictions. Moreover, you can make your holiday cozy with just a little creativity — no real fire necessary:

Our friends in Public Services enjoy their hand-made holiday fireplace!

We’re thankful for YOU!

We want to take a minute to thank our SLCgreen team! Our readers, residents of Salt Lake City and beyond, are helping us reach our goals when it comes to reducing waste and building more sustainable communities. We hope you have a wonderful and sustainable holiday season!

November’s Ghoulish Garbage: A Curbside Guide

As we know, there can be some scary finds in the Salt Lake City curbside recycling bins! There are also many tricks! (Both of these links are to recent Instagram stories done by our Recycling Education team. Pretty interesting, right?)

So now that Halloween is over, don’t give our waste management teams a fright! Here’s a quick guide to where your Halloween waste should go.

Help stop monstrous non-recyclable things from ending up in your recycling bin!

Compost: Your Jack-O’-Lantern’s Final Resting Place

If you’re an extra resourceful pumpkin carver, you may have decided to roast up your pumpkin seeds for a delicious Halloween snack! In fact, there are many fun ways to put your pumpkin’s guts to use.

But once you’ve used up your pumpkin and the jack-o’-lantern’s smile is fading, you have an important choice to make: where does the pumpkin go?

The combination of yard waste like leaves and sticks and kitchen scraps including eggshells and coffee grounds makes nutrient-rich dirt that promotes plant and soil health. Indeed, about 30% of what’s thrown away as garbage in the United States — including your perfect pumpkin — could be composted.

So instead of letting the great pumpkin take up space in the landfill (where it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas), put your pumpkin into the compost bin!

(Remember to only put pumpkins without paint, wax, glitter or other non-organic decorations in the brown bin).

Image of a cute wrinkly pumpkin ready to compost!

Garbage vs. Recycling?

Unless a helpful witch or wizard was able to transform all those candy wrappers into clean cardboard or aluminum, or if you send materials to a recycling program like TerraCycle, candy wrappers should always be put into the garbage can.

Read more

This Halloween — Show Spiders Some Love

spider

This Halloween, we’re featuring spiders on the blog! But not to scare you. In fact, we thought Halloween would be the perfect opportunity to shed some (not-so-spooky) light on these creepy crawlies.

Our eight-legged friends (yes – you read that right) top the list of the most misunderstood helpers and are labeled as pests. Entomologists are working hard to change the public’s perception of spiders through education and outreach. After all, we are less likely to be afraid of something that we are familiar with and spiders have an important ecological role as the top invertebrate predator.

Living fossils

Spiders evolved 380 million years ago (long before the dinosaurs) and are believed to be the first animals to live on land. They are living fossils that evolved from an underwater ancestor that makes them closer cousins to a horseshoe crab than an insect.

hagfish

Spiders are often lumped together with insects even though they are very different creatures. Spiders are in the same phylum (Arthropods) as insects, because they have a segmented body. To put that in perspective, humans are in the same phylum (Chordata) as hagfish, and obviously, other than a hollow nerve cord, we are nothing like a hagfish. The differences are that big!

Without spiders, we would be waist deep in other insects!! Spiders eat an astronomical amount of bugs – somewhere in the range of 880 million tons of bugs a year!

Fear and loathing 

You can Google hundreds of news articles about car wrecks and house fires caused by people’s fear of spiders. Just a few days ago, there was a house fire in California where a man burnt down his parent’s house trying to kill a black widow. While there is research that shows some people are born with an innate fear of spiders, other people raise them as pets. Read more

Holiday Tree Disposal

As the holiday season wraps up, you may be wondering what to do with your Christmas tree when the decorations are ready to come down. Please consider not burning your treeBurning anything during the winter is bad for our air quality (Burning during “air action” days is also against State regulation and violates Salt Lake County Health Department rules).

Tree Compost_2017

Residents may dispose of trees in two ways. For immediate disposal, Salt Lake City asks residents to cut their trees up into a few small pieces and place in their brown compost containers.  Ornaments and lights must be removed. “Flocked” trees are not accepted in the brown containers.

“Please do not stuff your tree in the cart,” said Lance Allen Director of the Waste and Recycling Division. “This makes it extremely difficult or impossible for our operators to remove your tree. Instead, please cut your tree into four foot or smaller pieces.”

Alternatively, residents may place whole trees on their curb for disposal in January. Exact pickup depends on demand and will occur in mid-to late-January. Residents may call 801-535-6999 for more information.

 

Green Holiday Guide

Adobe Spark (8)

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!)

Y_Christmas_Tree_2

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

Halloween Decorating! SLCgreen Style

Sustainability Decorations- plastic bag ghosts, trash bag spider webs, sunflowers.

Halloween is right around the corner! Have you finished your decorations yet?

The City & County Building is having a door decorating competition between departments (never mind that the building itself might be haunted….!)

Of course, here at the Sustainability Department we know it’s important to “walk our talk” in terms of decorating with reused, compostable, and recyclable goods to keep material out of the landfill.

In the process, we had a fun time using our creativity (and Google) to come up with some cool ways to spookishly decorate. Here are some tips for your home or office: Read more

How this Blog on Food Choices Led to an Office “Cheese Party”

by Tera Clausen, SLCgreen intern

Holiday season is upon us once again.

Which means it’s time to come together with family and friends to celebrate– and what holiday celebration would be complete without delicious feasts and yummy treats?

At this time of plentiful feasting, we thought it’d be a great time to talk about food.

One of my recent tasks here at SLCgreen was to compile information for a new webpage, called Dining with Discretion.  This section is a bit different than SLCgreen’s other pages, in that it discusses the big picture way our food choices have an environmental impact.

I was surprised by some of what I found:

  • Did you know that if every American chose to not eat meat and cheese for just one day a week, it would be the equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road?
  • Are you aware that rain forests are being cut at the rate of 36 football fields per minute each year to make room for cattle grazing and farming?

These are sobering and overwhelming statistics.  But our goal is to empower you with information necessary to make a difference– whether that’s through a few small changes or even bigger ones.

That’s what “Dining with Discretion” means.

Discretion is the freedom to decide what should be done in a particular situation, so to Dine with Discretion means to make food choices with the understanding of how the food system affects our world.

Talking about Food Choices at the Office

As I discussed webpage content with my supervisor, one of my co-workers in our neighboring division overheard the idea of giving up meat and cheese one day a week. She joined the conversation and was adamant that she would never give up meat or cheese. The longer we discussed food choices, the more of our fellow SLC Corp co-workers began joining in on the conversation. When I left work that day I had no idea that this conversation would continue for several days. While many people had varying opinions, one thing became very clear – food can be a divisive topic.   

However, the question remains: Do people actually want to make these choices, especially when it comes to animal products?

I decided to do a little “market research” by asking around the Public Services office whether people would be willing to alter their behaviors to  Dine with Discretion. Read more