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Recycle Utah celebrates Earth Day with events, education

MATT JAMES, Of the Record staff

Earth Day is still a week away, but Recycle Utah is already preparing for the holiday with a collection of activities and events.

The organization’s Earth Day celebration will kick off with an event at Wild Oats in Redstone Towne Center Wednesday, April 19 from 5:30-7 p.m.

"I’m going to be there with a few I.B. (International Baccalaureate) students from the middle school, and I’m going to be there to talk about composting and what we recycle," said Insa Riepen, Recycle Utah’s executive director.

The event is free and open to the public and will offer a preview of Recycle Utah’s Earth Day Festival, which will run Saturday morning from 7-9 a.m. That event, which will take place at the Recycle Utah facility on Woodbine Way, will include free coffee and bagels, along with a chance to drop off recyclables and learn about Recycle Utah’s mission.

The rest of the day, weather permitting, the organization will have tables set up to educate the public about wind power, recycling and composting.

"That’s the Earth Day thing to do this year," Riepen said. "Start composting."

That alone, she noted, can eliminate 25 percent of a family’s household refuse, turning it into a valuable addition to a yard or garden.

"It’s easily done," concluded Riepen. "We’re going to continue to promote it."

For the rest of the month, the organization will also be running a special promotion in conjunction with Get the Mercury Out, a program organized by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

Through April 30, Summit County residents can turn in their old mercury thermometers and receive new digital models.

"We want to take them out of circulation completely," Riepen said, about the mercury thermometers.

She said the program would be the first of its kind at Recycle Utah.

Mercury, a toxic, liquid metal, is easily spread and ingested and can lead to serious health problems, including nervous system damage and liver problems.

Recycle Utah accepts mercury-containing products at all times of the year. However, while the organization normally has to pay to properly dispose of the mercury-contaminated objects, during April, that disposal is free. That allowed the organization to offer the thermometer recycling program.

"People don’t usually do anything unless they get something," Riepen said. "So since I have a way to get rid of the mercury for free, we decided to do this."

And while that program will end with April, Recycle Utah will continue to provide programs through May, including the regular, semiannual Hazardous Materials Collection May 6 in the parking lot of The Canyons Resort and a pair of special movie screenings Thursday, May 18 at the Jim Santy Auditorium. Two films, "Kilowatt Ours" and "Nobelity" will screen, starting at 7 p.m.

Riepen said she wanted to have the screenings, which are presented in conjunction with the Park City Film Series, in April, around Earth Day, but the auditorium was too busy. So, she said, Recycle Utah decided to wait until May.

The organization regularly uses "Kilowatt Ours," a film that details the processes used to generate electricity, but this will be the film’s first major public showing. "Nobelity," which will screen second, is new to the Park City scene.

"It’s full of Nobel Prize winners, and they talk about what’s happening to the Earth," Riepen said.

After the film, viewers will be able to sign up to use wind power at their homes

"It’s going to be just a continuation of our Earth Day message," Riepen noted.

So instead of celebrating for a day, the organization will have events for a month, which makes sense, considering the organization says that Earth Day is every day at its facility.

Riepen said the programs are part of Recycle Utah’s mission to help make Park City and Summit County as environmentally responsible, as "green," as possible.

"All these years I’ve been saying, we’ve got to be the engine," Riepen said, "not the caboose."

Recycle Utah is located at 1951 Woodbine Way in Park City. For more information about the organization or its programs, visit http://www.recycleutah.org or call 649-9698.


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