• 10 Tips To Use Less Plastic

    Whether it has been recycled or is just sitting in a landfill, nearly every piece of plastic ever created still exists in some form. The fraction of plastic that does get recycled is shockingly low, sitting at just about 30%. The vast majority that isn't being recycled is accumulating in landfills or ending up as litter in roadways and water systems. Our society is making a shift towards disposable and/or single-use plastics and, according the the National Geographic, if current trends continue we can expect about 12 billion metric tons of plastic to end up in landfills. It can be extremely hard to give up plastic entirely, but small shifts in our behavior can make a huge difference in reducing our plastic pollution.

    1. Reusable Bags Reusable Bag

    According to the EPA, Americans use over 380 billion plastic bags and wraps every year. Although there are plastic bag drop-offs for recycling, most bags end up in landfills. By switching to reusable bags for shopping and produce items, you could dramatically lower your need for plastic. 

    2. Reusable Water Bottle

    Americans use approximately 50 billion water bottles every year yet the recycling rate for plastic is only 23%. By bringing a reusable water bottle when you're at work, school, or on-the-go, you will reduce your need to buy a single-use plastic water bottle. Not only will you be saving natural resources but you will also save a lot of money over time. 

    3. Say No to Straws Straws

    500 million plastic drinking straws are used and disposed of every day. Many of these straws end up littering our road and waterways making them one of the most treacherous pollutants because of the harmful effects they have on marine animals. Next time you're out to eat or at a coffee shop, remember to ask for your drink without a straw. And, if you're with a group, encourage them to follow your lead! Change often starts with one person.

    4. Avoid the Microplastics Microbeads in Toothpaste

    Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic (about the size of a sesame seed) that are found in many cosmetic and toiletry items including face wash and toothpaste. These small pieces of plastic get flushed down sinks and drains and end up in our water systems including oceans, lakes an rivers. Unfortunately, plastic does not break down or dissolve in water so it continues to pose a threat for marine life and birds. Studies are still being done to see what sort of long-term affects this might have on animal and human life, but what we do know is that avoiding it completely is a better option. 

    5. Pack In Or Pack Out Lunches

    If you normally eat out for lunch, try packing your own lunch in a reusable container instead. Not only will you save some money, but you'll also avoid any single use plastics that your food might otherwise come in. In addition, if you do go out to eat for lunch, consider bringing your own Tupperware to the restaurant for leftovers instead of using the disposable to-go containers. 

    6. Shop in Bulk Bins Bulk foods

    Many items such as nuts, fruits and beans are available in bulk bins which can be found at most grocery stores. By purchasing items from the bulk bins, you can avoid the single-use plastic that most items are wrapped in, and you can get the amount you need to avoid wasting food. Keep in mind that purchasing from bulk bins is not the same as buying in bulk because even though buying in bulk can be a better option to reduce excessive packaging, you'll find that you end up with more food than you need and it can be wasteful. 

    7. Buy Loose and Fresh Loose Fruit and Vegetables

    To go along with the tip above, buying fruits and veggies loose versus packaged will help lower your use of plastic. In addition, the small plastic bags that are available at grocery stores to put your food in is not at all necessary so if you're looking to use less plastic, you should skip them entirely. If you still prefer to bag your loose fruits and veggies, consider buying reusable produce bags to bring to the store with you. You can even find some that might increase the shelf life of certain foods! 

    8. Reusables at Parties Reusable cups and plates

    Parties and get-togethers are one of the most common places to see waste from disposable Styrofoam© plates and plastic silverware to one-time use decorations. Next time you host, consider using reusable and washable plates, cups and silverware instead of disposable. Not only will you reduce your waste, but it'll help make your party feel more personal and homey. In addition, if you do want to buy decorations, consider buying supplies that can be reused for years such as a universal "happy birthday" banner or cake topper.  

    9. Make Your Own Cleaners

    In the U.S. we generate 1.6 million tons of harmful household chemicals with the average home accumulating as much as 300 pounds of household hazardous waste. By making your own cleaner in a reusable bottle, you'll avoid the single use plastic bottles that most cleaners come in and you'll greatly decrease harmful chemicals in your home. For recipes on DIY green cleaners, visit our green cleaner guide

    10. Get it Fixed Fix-It Clinic Banner

    It's often easier for us to throw away common items when they break, but did you know you can get many of them fixed for free? In fact, every month Dakota County offers a free fix-it clinic where you can get expert help fixing common household items. Many residents have visited these clinics to fix old vacuum cleaners, broken fans, ripped clothing and so much more. To find an upcoming clinic near you, visit the Dakota County websiteand search "fix it."


  • 2020 Environmental Guide

    This year, our Environmental Guide will be sent out a bit later in the year. In the meantime, check it out right here! 


  • 5 Tips to Green in the New Year

    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


  • Clothing Donation Sites

    There are many reuse and donation opportunities for gently used clothing. 

    Consignment shops - the following businesses accept clothing for consignment:

    Clothes Mentor
    14629 County Road 11
    Burnsville, MN 55337

    Once Upon a Child
    1100 E. County Road 42
    Burnsville, MN 55337Clothing in donation box example

    Plato’s Closet
    14603 County Road 11
    Burnsville, MN 55337

    Second Tyme Around Fashions
    1745 North Frontage Road
    Hastings, MN

    Turn Style Consignment Store
    Cobblestone Court
    14150 Nicollet Ave. S.
    Burnsville, MN 55337

    Turn Style Consignment Store
    7367 179th St. W.
    Lakeville, MN

    Thrift stores and non-profits - the following accept clothing items as a donation:

    Arc Greater Twin Cities
    1650 White Bear Ave. N.
    St. Paul, MN 55106

    C.H.A.P. Thrift Store  
    2020 E. Highway 13
    Burnsville, MN 55337

    Courage Center
    3915 Golden Valley Road
    Minneapolis, MN 55422

    Dakota Woodlands
    3430 Wescott Woodlands
    Eagan, MN 55123

    Disabled American Veterans
    572 University Ave.
    St. Paul, MN

    Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota

    7320 153rd St.
    Apple Valley, MN 55124

    1247 Northwood Parkway
    Eagan, MN 55121

    1425 S. Robert St.
    West St. Paul, MN 55118

    Hastings Family Service
    121 E. Third St.
    Hastings, MN 55033

    Lupus Foundation of Minnesota  
    2626 E. 82nd St.
    Suite 135
    Bloomington, MN 55425

    Neighbors, Inc.  
    218 13th Ave S.
    South St. Paul, MN 55075

    Salvation Army
    Burnsville Family and Thrift Store
    10141 Irving Ave.
    Burnsville, MN 55337

    Vietnam Veterans of America

    7608 W. 150th St. W.
    Apple Valley, MN 55124

    UNIQUE Thrift Store
    14308 Burnhaven Drive
    Burnsville, MN 55337

  • Declutter Your Home

    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. 


    • 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

    [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

    [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

    [in good condition]
    [no longer usable]

    medication disposal 

    Medication [drop-off at police stations]


    [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 

  • Furniture

    Furniture in good condition can be donated to any of the following businesses to be resold and reused.  For furniture items no longer in good condition, call your garbage hauler for a one-time pick up (call for fees), or bring them to a landfill.

    Apple Valley

    7320 153rd St
    Apple Valley, MN 55124

    7608 W 150th St
    Apple Valley, MN 55124


    C.H.A.P. Thrift Store
    2020 E Hwy 13
    Burnsville, MN 55337

    stack of furnitureSalvation Army - Burnsville Family and Thrift Store
    10141 Irving Ave
    Burnsville, MN 55337

    UNIQUE Thrift Store
    14308 Burnhaven Dr
    Burnsville, MN 55337


    1247 Northwood Pkwy
    Eagan, MN 55121

    Other Dakota County Locations

    1425 S Robert St
    West Saint Paul, MN 55118

  • Household Goods Donation Sites

    Household items in good condition can be donated to any of the following businesses to be resold and reused.  Items no longer in good condition can be placed in the garbage.

    dishware, glassware and other household goodsC.H.A.P. Thrift Store
    2020 E Hwy 13
    Burnsville, MN 55337

    7320 153rd St
    Apple Valley, MN 55124

    1247 Northwood Pkwy
    Eagan, MN 55121

    1425 S Robert St
    West Saint Paul, MN 55118

    17625 Kenrick Ave,
    Lakeville, MN 55044

    7608 W 150th St
    Apple Valley, MN 55124

    Salvation Army - Family and Thrift Store
    10141 Irving Ave
    Burnsville, MN 55337

    UNIQUE Thrift Store
    14308 Burnhaven Dr
    Burnsville, MN 55337

  • Mattresses

    Mattresses and box springs are a bulky item in our waste stream and can be problematic because they are hard to move, clog up equipment, and are hard to compact in a landfill.  Fortunately, there are options for reusing and recycling old mattresses and box springs in the Twin Cities. 


    Mattresses and box springs aren't accepted at thrift stores, but they are accepted at a local nonprofit store in the Twin Cities. Bridging accepts donations of quality, gently used furniture and household goods (see list here) at their Bloomington location. You have the choice to bring your donations to their facility at no charge, or schedule a pick-up from your home for a fee ($75 for curbside pick up, $150 for in-home pick up). Bridging does not accept bed frames, headboards or footboards.

    201 W 87th St
    Bloomington, MN 55420 [map]
    M-Th 10am-6pm; F-Sa 9am-3pm


    Mattresses no longer in usable condition can be recycled. This option  is a way to recover and recycle materials like metal, wood and textiles. Call for drop-off hours and information on fees.

    Certified Recycling
    14305 Ewing Ave
    Burnsville, MN 55306

    Second Chance Recycling
    1179 15th Avenue SE
    Minneapolis, MN 55414
    612-332-0664 ext. 14

    J&J Recycling Center
    607 Barge Channel Road
    Saint Paul, MN 55107

    If recycling mattresses and box springs is not an option, ask the retailer that brings your new mattress if they offer disposal.  If they don't, call your licensed garbage hauler to schedule a pick-up (if you live in an apartment or are part of an association, find contact information for the licensed commercial haulers), or bring it to a landfill, both for a fee. 

  • Reducing School Supplies Waste

    The weather getting warmer not only means the beginning of summer, but also the beginning of summer break for school kids. With the school year ending, kids will be bringing home all of their work and supplies they have been using daily though out the year. Instead of throwing it in a drawer or closet and forgetting about it until August, consider taking note of their left over school supplies and deciding whether to reuse or recycle it now. This is a great way to decrease clutter in your home and potentially save you some time and money in August when you're getting ready to send them back to school. Any materials that are still in good condition should be kept for next year. Otherwise donating or recycling the old, worn-out supplies like markers, folders and binders, notebooks, and backpacks is the best option. Here are some tips on things to do with your old school and office supplies.


    Crayola has partnered with schools across North America to help kids understand the importance of protecting the environment and recycling. Crayola ColorCycle works with K-12 schools to collect all brands of colored markers, dry-erase board markers, and highlighters. Follow this link, Crayola Colorcycle, for more information and to see if your school participates.


    If you have notebooks that are completely used up, the paper inside can go in your normal recycling bin. You just need to remove the metal coil from the side. If your notebook came with a plastic cover, that needs to be thrown away as these types of plastics cannot be recycled. The metal coil can be recycled at a recycling center, such as The Recycling Zone, or can be re-purposed around the house for anything that needs bendable wire. For half-filled notebooks consider keeping them and using as scrap paper for notes or reminders around the house.


    TerraCycle, a recycling company that focuses on hard-to-recycle materials, has partnered with Office Depot to start a binder recycling campaign. Bring in your old, used office binders to Office Depot in exchange for a coupon for $2 off a new binder. Find more information here.

    Pens and Pencils:

    For old pens and pencils that still work, considering keeping them for next year. New ones won't work any better than used one, plus you will save money and teach your kids to value their possessions. However, if you have so many that you feel you still need to get rid of them, consider donating them to the Right to Write Campaign. Information about this campaign can be found here. Pens that are out of ink or broken cannot be recycled however and should be thrown in the trash.


    More than half a million pounds of used crayons are discarded each year, turning into waxy sludge that never biodegrades in landfills. The Crayon Initiative collects used crayons from schools, restaurants, and homes to melt them down and re-manufacture them, reducing waste. More information and how to send in your crayons can be found here.


    When it comes to folders, ones that are completely made out of paper are the only type that can be recycled. Polypropylene (the plastic ones) and laminated folders have to be thrown away.


    If the backpack is still in good condition, try to get your child to use it for another year. If they have grown out of it, consider reusing the backpack for another purpose. Examples are a light travel bag, a first aid and safety supply bag for your car, or a reusable bag for groceries. If the backpack is worn out and beyond repair, try to find a materials recycling donation center.


    Once August rolls around and it’s time to buy your child’s school supplies again, consider opting for items that are recyclable or reusable. We often don’t think about a product’s entire life cycle when buying, leading to large amounts of items being thrown away after they are no longer of use to us. Try to purchase things like paper folders, composition notebooks or notebooks with recycled paper, pens and pencils that are refillable, and high quality backpacks and pencil cases that will last many school years.


  • Resources for Repairs

    A great way to reduce waste is to extend the lifetime of what you already have. It's important to know where to recycle household items, but it's even better to know how to do repairs so you can continue to use your household items instead of throwing them away. Here are some resources for helping you get the most out of your things:

    • This website has thousands of guides for repairing various electronics, appliances, clothing, and even your car. You can also buy parts and tools for fixing electronics from the iFixit store
    • Minnesota Tool Library: If you would like to repair your own things, but don't have the equipment to do so, you can find what you need at the Minnesota Tool Library. There is one in Saint Paul and one in Minneapolis. Paid membership is required, but is available at different levels so you can find one that works for you. They also offer classes in how to use the tools and in skills like sewing, plumbing, and other maintenance.
    • Fix-It Clinics: These free events happen all over the metro and are a great place to learn new repair skills. Volunteers will look at up to three of your items and help you mend or repair them. Upcoming Fix-It clinic dates and locations are listed on the Dakota County website

    Learning to repair your own things reduces waste, saves money, and can be fun and empowering. Next time something breaks, try out some of these resources.

    For more information on reuse, check out Dakota County's Reuse Guide.

    Finally, if your item can't be repaired or reused, Dakota Valley Recycling can help you find a place to recycle it

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.