Green Living

  • The New Year is a time for resolutions that are made to bring about positive changes in your life. This year, make a difference in your community and start off the New Year right by adding some easy green resolutions to your list. Here are five ideas to help you get started:  scraping plate of food

    1. Reduce your food waste: 40% of food is currently being wasted in the United States. That means wasted resources, time, energy, and money. Reducing your food waste might be as easy as making smaller trips to the store with a clear list in mind, or just storing your food properly to make it last as long as possible. For more tips, visit our Reduce Your Food Waste Guide. 

    2. Reuse wfix-it clinic bannerith ease: Why buy something new when you can fix something you have for free? This year, resolve to attend a Dakota County Fix-It Clinic when you have something in need of repair. Clinics are offered every month in cities around Dakota County and you can bring up to five small household items such as torn clothing, broken vacuum cleaners, and more. 

    3. Recycle everything you can: This year, recycle more by using the hauler specific recycling guides found here. While you’re at it, make sure to recycle the things that can’t go in your curbside bin such as electronics by taking them to the Recycling Zone!

    4. Ditch the plastic: Approximately 50% of the plastic we use, we use once then throw away. Make 2018 the year you make a conscious effort to bring a reusable bag shopping and a reusable water bottle whenever possible. 

    5. Recycle your organics: Orgafood scrapsnic material such as food scraps and food-soiled paper don't have to end up in the landfill. Instead turn them into a rich soil  amendment by recycling them. Dakota County now has two free drop sites for your household organics. You can also resolve to backyard compost this year too! Find out how using our Backyard Composting Guide here

     

  • compost bin with vegetable scrapsComposting is nature’s way of recycling materials.  It is the natural breakdown of organic wastes by bacteria, fungi, worms, and other organisms under controlled conditions. Besides conserving resources and diverting organic material from landfills, backyard composting can save you money. By diverting your household’s food waste from the garbage, you can reduce the size and cost of your garbage container.

    Recipe for composting:

    Materials & Ingredients Needed:
    Compost container
    Stirring tool: shovel or pitchfork
    Water
    “Brown” compostable materials (see below for list)
    “Green” compostable materials (see below for list)

    Instructions for Successful Composting:

    1. Construct your compost container: Select a dry, shady spot near a water source to place your compost bin.
    2. Add “green” compostable material: This includes fruit and vegetable scraps, bread products, grass clippings, plant trimmings and weeds. These materials are high in carbon.
    3. Add “brown” compostable material: This includes fallen leaves, straw, sawdust, wood chips, and twigs. These materials are high in nitrogen.
    4. Mix: Turn the compost with a stirring tool regularly; no more frequently than once a week. This prevents unpleasant odors and quickens decomposition.  If strong odors occur despite regular turning, add a bulking agent (straw, sawdust or dry leaves). Add water if pile seems too dry (compost should appear “damp” but not soggy).
    5. Use: The result of composting is a dark, crumbly, earthy-smelling mixture that can be used as a fertilizer, mulch or in a potting mix.

    Helpful Hints

    • “Brown” compostable materials include fallen leaves, straw, coffee grounds, wood chips, twigs and sawdust. These materials are high in carbon.
    •  “Green” compostable materials include weeds, grass clippings, plant trimmings and food scraps. They are high in nitrogen.
    • The ideal ratio for “green” to “brown” material in your bin is generally considered to be a 50/50 mix (1:1 ratio). However, 1:2 or 2:1 ratios will still allow your pile to compost. Disproportionate amounts of “green” can lead to strong odors, and too much “brown” will dry out your pile and stop the composting process. 
    • Coffee grounds are high in both carbon and nitrogen, so they are categorized as both green and brown, depending on whom you ask. Paper coffee filters can also be added to your compost pile.
    • Do not add the following items to compost container: grease, oil, fat, bones, dairy products, meat or pet waste. These items can be recycled at one of the Dakota County Organics Drop-Sites instead. 

    To get your own backyard composting bin:

    Information on building compost containers (Missouri Extension Services).

    Check at your local garden center for compost bins or go online to recycleminnesota.orgto see if a Compost Bin and Rain Barrel sale is happening near you. 

    Check out a Sustainability Man video about composting:

     

  • Feel like you just have too much stuff cluttering up your home? It's easy to accumulate things, but getting organized might seem like an insurmountable task. Luckily, there are many resources for getting your unwanted things recycled and disposed of properly. View our downloadable Dive into Decluttering Guideand view the tips and locations below to get started. 

    Tips:

    • Set aside a small amount of time: Instead of trying to do it all at once, try to set obtainable goals to avoid getting overwhelmed. For example your goal may be "15 minutes a day sorting my office closet" or "1 hour a week cleaning the garage." 
    • Have three boxes: "Keep" "Donate/Disposal" and "Hold".  The "Hold" box is for things you think you want to get rid of, but you aren't sure.  Put the "Hold" box in a storage space (attic, closet or garage), and after 30 days, anything you haven't removed from the box probably isn't something you're actively using--and can be donated or recycled. 
    • Go digital: photos and home videos can be transferred to a digital format to go on your home computer.  Even things like play bills, ticket stubs and letters can be scanned in.
    • Take photos and move on: Collecting things can be fun, but evaluate if an old collection is taking up too much space. If you still have the collection of teddy bears from your childhood, consider taking a photo of the collection to remember it by, then donating the items for the next generation to enjoy.  Or, keep one of your favorites if you think you'd like to display it. 

    Know where to throw--
    resources for disposing of common unwanted items:

     Appliance recycling

    Appliances
    [must be recycled]

    Battery disposal 

    Batteries, such as alkaline, button, rechargable, or car batteries [recycle]

    Building materials

    Building materials, such as doors, cabinets, bathroom fixtures, flooring, etc [reusable] [no longer usable]

     Carpet recycling

    Carpet [recycle] [disposal]

     Clothing reuse

    Clothing [thrift or consign]

     

    Confidential Documents
    [shredding services]

     

    Christmas Lights [recycle]

    electric household item recycling 

    Electric items, such as vaccuums, toasters, hair dryers, etc [recycle]

     Electronics recycling

    Electronics, such as TVs, VCRs, computers, etc [must be recycled]

     furniture disposal

    Furniture
    [in good condition]
    [no longer usable]

    Household goods 

    Household goods, such as kitchenware, decor, etc [donate]

     HHW disposal

    Household hazardous waste, such as paint, cleaners, automotive fluids, etc [special disposal]

     Mattress recycling

    Mattresses
    [in good condition]
    [no longer usable]

    medication disposal 

    Medication [drop-off at police stations]

     Recyclables

    Recyclables
    [large quantities for drop-off]

     Scrap metal

    Scrap metal, such as metal weight sets, metal lawn furniture, metal car parts, etc [recycle]

     

    Shoes [reusable] [recycle]

     donation boxes

    Toys [reusable]

      

    For more information, or if you are interested in attending a Decluttering Workshop, call 952-895-4515 or email a DVR staff member 

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks indoor air pollution among the top environmental dangers. Most indoor air pollution is the result of cleaning products, whose safety, and even labeling, aren’t regulated or assessed by the government. According to the EPA, of the more than 75,000 registered chemicals, only a fraction have been tested for human health effects. Improper use and disposal of these chemicals can also have a negative effect on our health and the environment. In the US, we generate 1.6 million tons of harmful household chemicals, and the average home can accumulate as much as 300 pounds of household hazardous waste. 

    Green Cleaning Tips 

    Look for the Safer Choice label: The EPA has recently unveiled a new label for denoting safe cleaning products. Cleaning products with the safer choice label help consumers identify products with safer chemical ingredients. There are currently more than 2,000 products that qualify for the safer choice label.    A full list of products can be found here

    Do your research: The Environmental Working Group has a guide to healthy cleaning that ranks more than 2,500 cleaning products based on  the toxicity of its ingredients. A link to the guide can be found here.

    Read Labels:  Reading labels can tell you a lot about the product and its possible health effects. Watch for signal words like caution, warning, danger, poison, flammable, corrosive, & toxic. 

    Use Cleaners Safely: Do not mix cleaners, especially ones with chlorine or bleach. Always use cleaners for their intended purpose and never forget test a formula first. Wear gloves while using cleaners to prevent chemicals from touching your skin. If you do make your own cleaners, remember to label the containers clearly. Read the Labels Sign

    Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste Properly: Keep household hazardous waste out of drains, storm sewers, trash containers, and off of the ground. Bring old and unwanted cleaners to The Recycling Zone to be properly disposed of for free. 

    Go Reusable: Remember to stock your cleaning kit with reusable and washable cleaning supplies such as rags, sponges, and spray bottles. An old cut up shirt works well too! Choose cellulose sponges, which are not anti-bacterial. 

    Go Homemade: Another option to cut down on harmful chemicals is to consider making your own cleaning solutions and implementing alternative methods for common household needs. Check out the tips and recipes below to reduce household chemicals and potentially save money too.

    All Purpose Cleaners:

    Castile Soap Surface Cleaner

    Mix 2 cups distilled water, 2 tablespoons - ¼ cup castile soap, and 15 drops essential oil in a spray bottle.

     Vinegar Surface Cleaner

    Mix 1 cup distilled water, 1 cup white distilled vinegar, ½ juiced lemon (optional, must be stored in refrigerator if added), and 15 drops essential oil in a spray bottle. 

    Kitchen Cleaning:

    Garbage Disposal Cleaner

    Pour ½ cup baking soda into garbage disposal, then slowly pour ½ cup of vinegar in after. Once the mixture has had time to work, pour boiling water down the drain. Can follow this with throwing half a lemon or lime down the drain to deodorize. 

    Microwave Cleaner

    Pour about ½ cup water in a microwave safe bowl, squeeze ½ a lemon into water or a few drops of vinegar. Microwave solution on high for several minutes (until the solution boils). Let stand for about 10 minutes before removing door and wiping the walls and door clean.

    Drain Cleaner

    Use a plunger or plumber’s snake. 

    Pour 1 cup baking soda in drain, follow with ½ cup vinegar and immediately cover drain. Let sit for half hour, then uncover and pour boiling water down drain for 1 minute.

    Oven

    Mix 1 part water and 3 parts baking soda into a paste. Spread the paste on bottom of the oven, leave it there for a few hours and then wipe clean. 

    Bathroom Cleaning:

    Showers and Bathtubs

    1 part water to 3 parts baking soda paste to remove soap and stains (use vinegar for tougher stains).

    Grout

    Sprinkle baking soda on the floor and spray with hydrogen peroxide. Scrub with a toothbrush or fine tipped scrubbing tool.

    Toilet Bowl

    Sprinkle toilet bowl with baking soda, pour or spray vinegar over. Let soak for at least 30 minutes, then scrub with toilet brush.

     Other:

     

    Glass Cleaner

      

    Mix one tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar with one cup of water. Can also add essential oils to mask vinegar smell. Spray directly on window and reuse old newspaper or a microfiber cloth to wipe up.

    Furniture Polish

     

    Mix one tablespoon of lemon juice in one pint of mineral or vegetable oil and wipe furniture.

     

    Rug/Upholstery Deodorizer

     

    Sprinkle carpet or fabric with baking soda (can scent with essential oils). Wait 15 minutes and vacuum.

     

    Silver Polish

    Completely submerge silver in a shallow pan of boiling mixture of 2-3 inches of water, one teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon of baking soda, and a sheet of aluminum foil. Wipe away tarnish and repeat if necessary.

    Mothballs

     

    Use cedar chips, lavender flowers, rosemary, mints, or white peppercorns.

     

    Air Freshener

     

    Combine ¾ cup water, 2 tablespoons vodka, and essential oils in an 8oz spray bottle. Shake well and spray as needed.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Dakota County Recycling and Disposal Guide tree logoThe decisions we make every day can affect our natural resources and have a major impact on the planet. One way to lessen our impact is to consider the entire lifespan of products, from beginning to the end. Thankfully, Dakota Valley Recycling and Dakota County makes it easy to find proper disposal of our products during the end of life stage. View our decluttering guidefor tips and tricks on getting started in your own home. 

    Green Guide

    The Green Guide is an easy-to-use guide to help you learn where to recycle, compost or dispose of materials. It offers useful information, options and tips to reduce the amount of waste you generate, reuse goods to get the most out of them and recycle items when they are no longer useful. Call ahead to verify the location, materials collected and hours of operation.

    About this directory

    This information was compiled by Dakota County. For additional recyclers in your area, search online. Any recycler wishing to be added to this list may contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    Disclaimer

    The information provided in this directory is compiled as a service to residents. A listing in this directory does not imply an endorsement of approval by Dakota County. All businesses listed in the directory are responsible for complying with all applicable local, state and federal laws pertaining to recycling, waste disposal and environmental protection.

     

  • Did you know that the volume of trash generally increases by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Years? Help reduce that waste with some easy reducing and recycling holiday tips. 

  • The MN Energy Challenge is run by an area nonprofit, Center for Energy and Environment.  The Challenge is a pledge to reduce energy use and save money in your household.  You can learn about the actions that you take, and then choose the ones that work for you.  The web site also features an easy-to-use action guide, an "ask the experts" section, and information on utility rebate programs.  Registration is free for all services.  Most important, however, is the Challenge itself.  Over 26,000 Minnesota households have already pledged to save money and energy!

    Find more information on the MN Energy Challenge web site!

    A few tips from the MN Energy Challenge:

    Biggest bang for your buck:

    • Sign up for your utility company's air conditioning load control program.
    • Insulate your attic.
    • Wash clothes in cold water.
    • Insulate walls.
    • Replace 20+ year old furnaces.

    Fun for families:

    • Ditch the car and walk or bike to get exercise and save energy.

    Lighting:

    • Flip off lights and unplug appliances when not in use.
    • Replace incandescent light bulbs with CFL's.
    • Use holiday LED lights for your winter celebrations.
  • Dakota County has opened a new organics drop-site at Holland Lake Trailhead in Lebanon Hills. The drop site opened on November 3rd, 2017 and all Dakota County residents are welcome to sign up and participate in the program for free. For more information about the organics recycling program, go to www.co.dakota.mn.us and search organics drop off. 

    How to Participate

    1. Sign Up

    Call 952-891-7557 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    You'll receive a welcome kit with a free container label, compostable bags and details on what can and cannot go in the organics bin. You'll also receive the access code to enter the locked drop-off location. Anyone is welcome to participate, but the enclosure requires a code to prevent non-organic contamination. 

    2. Start Collecting Organic Waste                                                        

    You can use any container to collect organics such as:     

    • A small step containerBPI logo
    • A clean and empty ice cream bucket, coffee container, or other type of tub
    • A specially designed countertop organics container which can be purchased at local stores or online

    Line your container with a paper bag or certified compostable bags which are provided to residents for free at the drop-site. If you decide to purchase your own bags, make suCedar Grove Logore they have the BPIor Cedar Grove Logo on the bag.          

    When the bag is full, securely tie it closed and bring it to a drop-site near you. There are two locations in Dakota County Thompson County Park (360 Butler Ave, West St. Paul) or Lebanon Hills (opening November 3rd, Holland Lake Trailhead, 1100 Cliff Rd, Eagan).

    Accepted items:

    • All food, food scraps, peels, pits, etc.
    • Coffee grounds, filters and teabags
    • Paper towels, napkins and tissues   Food Scraps
    • Paper towel and toilet paper rolls
    • Paper egg cartons
    • Certified compostable products: Items with the BPI or Cedar Grove certified compostable logo on the product or packaging
    • Hair and fur
    • Popsicle sticks and toothpicks
    • Houseplant trimmings and flowers

    Not accepted

    • Yard waste
    • Plastic bags
    • Pet waste, litter, or bedding
    • Fast food wrappers
    • Frozen food boxes
    • Microwave popcorn bags
    • Paper plates, bowls and cups without BPI or Cedar Grove certification
    • Single-serve coffee pods (i.e., K-Cups® )

     

    Organics collected at these sites will be brought to a local organics recycling facility (The Mulch Store Specialized Environmental Technologies site) where it will be turned into compost; a nutrient-rich soil additive. Because the organics collected is brought to a commercial facility, meat, dairy, and bones are accepted among other food scrapes and napkins. Compost is beneficial because it improves soil quality, reduces erosion, and decreases the need for chemical fertilizers. Questions about this program? Visit the Dakota County webpage or call 952-891-7557. 

  • Join the Plastic Free July Challenge! 

    By now you are probably aware of the extremely hazardous effects single-use plastics have on our environment and ecosystems once they are disposed of. Help ease this growing problem by limiting your single use plastic by joining the Plastic Free July Challenge.

    The Plastic Free July Challenge was started in 2011 by an Australian independent not-for-profit foundation. Their mission is to build a global movement that dramatically reduces plastic use and improves recycling. It aims to raise awareness of your growing plastic waste problem and support behavior change by avoiding single-use (disposable) plastic. This is everything from straws, plastic water bottles, grocery bags, and coffee cups (yes, even coffee cups contain plastic). 

    Join the over 2 million people across 159 different countries who are choosing to be part of the Plastic Free July Challenge! You can find more information and tips on how to go plastic free and register to be part of the challenge below.

    Plastic Free July

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • water from gutters going into a rain barrelLawn and garden watering make up nearly 40% of total household water use during the summer. A rain barrel collects water and stores it for when you need it most -- during periods of drought -- to water plants, wash your car, or to top a swimming pool. It provides an ample supply of free "soft water" to homeowners, containing no chlorine, lime or calcium making it ideal for gardens, flower pots, and car and window washing.

    Why use a Rain Barrel?

    • Save Water. A rain barrel will save most homeowners about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer months.
    • Save Money and Energy. Saving water not only helps protect the environment, it saves you money and energy (decreased demand for treated tap water).
    • Divert Water from Water Bodies.Diverting water from storm drains decreases the impact of runoff to streams and lakes.

    Ready-made rain barrels come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  They can be purchased from a number of companies including hardware stores and garden supply stores.

  • According the National Resource Defense Council, the average American tosses 25% of the food they buy. That's like going to the grocery store, buying four bags of food, and leaving one in the parking lot. Food lost to the landfill also means wasted water to grow the food, wasted fuel to transport the food, wasted labor, wasted time, and wasted money.  

    Fortunately, there’s steps you can take to save the food.

    Check out these great resources to help you shop smarter, meal prep, freeze efficiently, and understand food labels: 

    View The Extraordinary Life and Times of a Strawberry brought to you by the National Ad Council

    NEW! Print off these educational coloring pages and games! 

    • dont-trash-us
    • eat-me-first-bin
    • food-saving-superhero2
    • love-food-hate-waste
    • maze

     

  • worms for vermicompostingVermicomposting is the process of using worms to turn kitchen waste into a black, earthy-smelling, nutrient-rich humus.

    You Need 5 Basic Ingredients to Start Vermicomposting:

    1. A Container. Worm boxes can be purchased or made. Plastic storage containers are convenient and come in a variety of sizes. These containers are easily transported.  Never snap the lid shut tight. The lid should lie loosely on the bin.
    2. Bedding.Use shredded corrugated cardboard, shredded paper like newspaper, or commercial worm bedding which is available in sporting goods stores, but it is also more expensive.
    3. Water. Place the dry, shredded bedding in a large container and add water until it covers the bedding.  Squeeze the water out from the bedding as much as possible. Place the bedding in the bin and fluff. Your bedding needs to remain moist.  Mist if necessary.
    4. Worms. The worms used in vermicomposting are called redworms (Eisenia foetida).  You can order them through lawn and garden catalogs.  Keep the temperature between 55 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
    5. Non-Fatty Kitchen Scraps. Add vegetable & fruit waste, coffee grounds, egg shells, and tea bags.  Start slowly.  Gradually increase the amount of food.  Pull back a small amount of bedding and dump in the scraps. Cover the scraps with bedding.

    The worms will digest the kitchen scraps and bedding faster than any other compost method, passing through the worms' bodies and becoming "castings." In about 3-4 months, the worms will have digested nearly all the garbage and bedding.  The bin will be filled with a rich, black natural fertilizer. Worm castings contain five times more nitrogen, seven times more phosphorus and 11 times more potassium than soil. Remove the castings from time to time.

    For more information go to www.wormlady.com.

Contact Us

City Education Department
13713 Frontier Court
Burnsville, MN 55337-3817
Phone: 952-895-4559

Dakota Valley Recycling

DVR is the partnership recycling department for the Cities of Apple Valley, BurnsvilleEagan and Lakeville that connects residents and businesses to recycling, composting and waste disposal information.

DVR is not a drop off facility and does not accept any materials for recycling.