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Guest editorial

The annual Earth Day celebration has come and gone with many of us participating in community festivities and attending the various sustainability workshops this past month. It’s great to celebrate the earth once a year but don’t let it end as April becomes part of the past! As we’ve seen, Earth Day provides an opportunity to recognize, organize, and mobilize our efforts to live more sustainable lives.

Yes, we’ve come a long way over the last 40 years to limit man’s impact on the planet, however, there is still a ways to go. One of the best places to start is in our own homes with our consumption and trash. We generate a lot of garbage!

According to the EPA, a person produced an estimated 4.5 pounds of municipal waste (trash) a day with about 250 million tons of trash heading to dumps in 2008. That year we sent more than 33,000 tons to the Three-Mile Canyon landfill. That’s a lot of waste and growth in the community isn’t about to stop.

How do we each produce over four pounds of waste a day? Think about it, how many times do you throw something in the trash? Is it a disposable coffee cup, a work document, plastic packaging and food scraps? Try calculating your waste at http://www.parkcitygreen.org and you will be amazed.

Many items we quickly toss actually can be re-purposed.

First, do a mental inventory of what you consume and how you can replace it in a more sustainable way. For example, a disposable plastic beverage bottle can be replaced with a refillable stainless steel bottle, paper napkins with washable cloth napkins and prepackaged mass produced foods with fresh items from a local co-op.

Second, rethink what you put in the trash and ask yourself, can the item be reused or recycled. Most likely it can. Recycle Utah has practically a bin for everything including cardboard, plastic lids and containers, glass, metal, aluminum, bike tires, tennis shoes, and e-waste (cell phones, computer keyboards, various electronics), among other items. Curbside recycling programs also have increased the list of acceptable items.

Third, many things can be reused including moving boxes, Styrofoam packing peanuts, wood, and kitchen cabinets, to name a few of the items Recycle Utah collects and resells to help raise funds for programs. This spring there also will be numerous neighborhood and community yard sales (including Recycle Utah’s Yard Sales at The Yard, starting on June 5) where your "trash" just may be a new treasure to someone.

Also, your green food waste and yard debris can be reborn as compost! Instead of buying soil, trucked in from somewhere, and fertilizer for your garden, start making your own from the organic materials you throw out. Compost or humus is natures way with green waste. You may think it’s good for the dump, but it’s too precious to throw away. It’ll decay but there it will stay. Learn more about composting at http://www.recycleutah.org.

Do you remember the 1970s commercial with Native American Iron Eyes Cody crying as trash is thrown from a moving car. The voice over said "People start pollution; people can stop it." Our waste and unnecessary consumption is polluting the earth. Instead, celebrate Earth Day every day by reducing, reusing and recycling!


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