Reduce the growing landfill mountain

Posted: Sunday, June 11, 2006

For one week, I paid close attention to what went into my garbage can. I recycled everything I could and was amazed at the small amount of garbage that needed to be disposed of in the landfill.

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Thanks to the Juneau Recycle Center, we can now recycle many more items, such as lightweight cardboard from cereal, cookie and cracker boxes; plastic fruit and vegetable containers, like the kind lettuce and apples come in from Costco; plastic pop bottles, clear or tinted; and junk mail, colored paper and envelopes.

By recycling, we can not only reduce the growing mountain of garbage in our landfill and reuse valuable resources, but we can also save ourselves money. Most of us pay for three cans of garbage pick-up per week, at the cost of $24 per month. You can select one can pick-up per week, at a cost of $12 per month. That would save you $144 in a year. Treat your family to a special event with the money you save, or allow your kids to allocate the money to their favorite charity. Researching charities could be a good summer project for kids.

Recycling is not hard. The key is to create a system that works for you. Separate items in the groups listed below and store them in tubs on shelves in your garage. You could also use 5-gallon plastic buckets. Keep a separate wastebasket where you sort mail to collect junk mail, colored paper and envelopes. Set up recycling bins in your office. Drop your recycle items off at the recycling center on your way to Costco or Fred Meyer.

Group recycled items together in this way for easy disposal at the recycle center:

1. Aluminum cans.

2. Steel and tin cans (labels on is OK).

3. Glass.

4. All No. 1 plastic bottles and containers (look for the triangle with a one inside), such as pop bottles, clear or tinted (labels and rings are OK but no lids); and clear fruit and vegetable containers, like those that lettuce and apples come in from Costco.

5. No. 2 plastic jugs (white, cloudy jugs), half-gallon and gallon milk jugs, and gallon water jugs (no lids).

6. No. 2 plastic bottles, colored bottles, laundry detergent and coffee containers (no lids); do not include containers that originally had oil or hazardous materials.

7. Newspapers, magazines and catalogs.

8. Mixed paper, colored paper, junk mail, envelopes, cereal, cracker and cookie boxes.

9. White paper.

10. Corrugated cardboard (look for the wavy material in between two pieces of cardboard).

11. Plastic grocery sacks (or donate clean sacks to St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army or Rainbow Foods).

To reduce your waste even further, compost yard and food waste. For more ideas to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste, go to recycling.php.

The Juneau Recycle Center is located at the landfill in Lemon Creek, 5600 Tonsgard Court. Go through the landfill gate to the left of the scales and follow the signs. Recycle center hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Don't forget to get your recycle card at the weigh-in window. Get it stamped each time you come in. After 20 stamps, you get a free dump at Capitol Disposal.

Try recycling for a week, and see if you can't reduce your garbage production down to one can. Then call Arrow Refuse, at (907) 780-7800, to change to one can per week collection. Save yourself some money, and reuse our valuable resources.

• Theresa Svancara is a resident of Juneau.

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