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Environmental Department (EPA)

Recycling: It's a Dirty Job, But Somebody's Got To Do It!

One of the hot topics in this office is recycling - how do we get a grip on the trash we all produce? Living in the shadow of a landfill, it's obvious that a dump doesn't work well in anyone's back yard, and that a molehill can grow into a mountain in no time.

According to the Mendocino County Recycling Hotline, the average U.S. household discards 13,000 paper items, 500 aluminum cans, 500 glass bottles, and 1,800 plastic items each year. We Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet every 3 months! Yet, by recycling one single aluminum can, enough electricity is saved to run a TV for six hours. Six hours, multiplied by the number of people in this country, is a lot of power.

In addition, the U.S. EPA states that the average household in the U.S. also generates more than 20 pounds of household hazardous waste per year -- things like paints, paint thinner, oven cleaners, insecticides, antifreeze, and batteries. Most of this goes straight into our landfills.

So, what can we do? We could take a look at how we get ourselves buried in so much trash in the first place, and maybe make a few small changes that can pay off in a big way. For instance, break down your cardboard boxes and bundle up your junk mail and newspapers to recycle. Buy products made from recycled materials. Get to know which plastics are recyclable, and buy your products accordingly. At the checkout, ask yourself, "Do I need a bag?" And, the next time you see that cool new breakfast cereal all neatly packaged in plastic and cardboard, painted with brightly-colored ink, maybe give a thought to what'll happen to that pretty little box when it's empty. Then, try the bulk food aisle instead. (It saves you money, since a lot of what you pay for is the package!)

We're lucky enough to have a recycling center, as well as a garbage transfer station, right next door. For free, you can drop off aluminum and tin cans, newspaper, cardboard, magazines, brown paper bags, telephone books, plastic bottles, glass bottles and jars. (They even pay for the aluminum cans, glass bottles and jars, plastic soda bottles, and motor oil.) For a fee, they also accept trash, scrap iron and steel, appliances, and tires. Also, there are a number of businesses in Mendocino County that will take items such as books, clothing, electronics, furniture, ink jet cartridges, yard waste, and appliances off your hands, as well as a County HazMobile that comes to Laytonville from time to time to deal with your household hazardous waste (call 1-800-246-3939 for a schedule.)

So, if you don't already recycle, now might be a good time to give it a try. With just a few small changes, you can make a huge impact on the environment, and save yourself a few bucks in the meantime.

For more information, or for a list of Mendocino County businesses that accept recyclables, stop by the office or give me a call at 984-6197.

Important Phone Numbers:

Laytonville Transfer Station (recycling): 984-8430
Solid Waste of Willits: 459-4778
Recycling Hotline: 468-9704 or 1-800-246-3939


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