Recycling Myths Debunked
The recycling world is not immune to myths but don't let these rumors stop you from making a difference. We have compiled the biggest fibs and explained how they just aren't true.
Myth 1: Recycling does not save natural resources
Making products from recycled materials uses far less natural resources than manufacturing the same product from virgin (new) materials. For example, using one ton of recycled steel saves 2,500 pounds of ore, 1,400 pounds of coal, and 120 pounds of limestone from being mined.
Recycling Zone Changes and Updates
A new year brought a few changes to how residents can recycle certain items. Dakota County no longer accepts plastic bags and packaging peanuts at The Recycling Zone in Eagan. As of Jan. 1, 2018 the County also has stopped paying residents to drop off aluminum cans, though cans still are accepted for free recycling.
Plastic bags and wrap require special recycling and do not belong in household recycling carts. Bags can wrap around recycling sorting equipment. Many private businesses offer the same service, so it is no longer needed at The Recycling Zone.
Residents can bring clean and dry plastic bags to grocery stores and retailers that accept them for recycling. Clean packing peanuts can be dropped off at UPS stores and local shipping stores, which reuse the material.
For more information, including a list of materials accepted at The Recycling Zone and where to take other household items, visit the Dakota County Recycling Zone Page.
Reduce Food Waste
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:
- Dive into Waste Food Guide by Dakota Valley Recycling
- Shop smarter meal planning sheet by Eureka Recycling
- Food storage directory by Savethefood.com
- Food waste tracking sheet by Eureka Recycling
- Know the difference between "use-by" and "sell-by." Spoiler: they don't really mean much unless it's infant formula
- Learn about the different temperature zones in the fridge to store perishables most effectively
- Check out this Ten Tips for Making Dinner, Not Waste bye Eureka Recycling
- Check out the Save the Food campaign for more tips and tricks including how to decipher dates, recipes using leftovers, how to freeze efficiently, and how to waste less- even with kids.
- Check out Dakota County's tips and tricks on what you can do in your own home to prevent food waste and to see the campaign that's going on in your own community!
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NEW! Print off these educational coloring pages and games!
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.