Refuse reduction, recycling make eco-sense daily

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By Carol A. Clark

Los Alamos County is promoting Monday’s America Recycles Day in an effort to entice more residents to embrace recycling as a lifestyle.
“I will give a presentation to 3rd grade students at Mountain Elementary School on Monday and will also set up displays at the Mesa Public Library and at the Reel Deal Theater with handouts showing residents how to recycle,” Environmental Services Specialist Tom Nagawiecki said.
While Monday is America Recycles Day, the entire month of November is Recycling Awareness Month in New Mexico, he said.
“Recycling is an important way to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill and a good way to save the energy used in the production of new products,” Nagawiecki said. “It’s an easy way for residents to have a large impact on creating a more sustainable Los Alamos County.”
The Environmental Services Division provides solid waste and recycling services to Los Alamos County residents, and coordinates the newly formed Environmental Sustainability Initiative. The Eco Station consists of the solid waste transfer station and is located at the old Landfill on East Jemez Road.
The county provides comprehensive waste and recycling services for residents and businesses. Programs include curbside waste and recycling collection, dumpster and roll off rental, daily e-waste recycling, monthly household hazardous waste recycling and a variety of other programs.
The county has nine outdoor recycling bins at locations throughout the community. Four bins are located at Ashley Pond, two bins at the North Mesa Softball/Baseball fields, two bins at the Golf Course and one bin at the North Mesa Soccer Fields. These recycling bins accept plastic bottles and aluminum cans. The Parks and Recreation Department will also install one more bin at the new miniature golf course located at East Park.
Ten easy recycling steps

•Know your local recycling system. Different communities have different standards for what can be recycled and how to do it.
•Plastic recycling: it’s all in the numbers. Look for the recycling symbol on plastic packaging or containers. #1 and #2 plastics should be accepted by almost every recycler. Some communities require plastic bottles have a “neck.”
•Can it! Metals are among the most valuable materials in the waste stream. Aluminum and steel cans are always welcomed by recyclers and most metals can be recycled infinitely with no loss of quality.
•Make recycling easy on the road. Keep two bags in the vehicle – one bag for garbage and one for recyclables. Pre-sorting makes it easier to transfer recyclables to the proper container.
•Answer the call to recycle wireless phones. Hundreds of millions of out-of-service phones are waiting to be reused or recycled. Find a local charity with a phone recycling program, or visit Earth911.com to find the nearest recycler.
•According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, paper and cardboard are America’s most-recycled materials by weight. In addition to newspaper recycling, most communities will accept corrugated cardboard and some will even accept junk mail, catalogues and phone books.
•Plug in to E-cycling: We live in an electronic age and that’s creating a lot of electronic waste. Never throw old computers, monitors, TVs, printers, or other electronics in the landfill. Instead, donate them to a local charity for reuse, or find out about local e-cycling programs.
•Improve the community with a cleanup event: Clean communities are better places for everyone to live, work, shop and play. Join or organize a local cleanup event, and be sure to sort the recyclables. It’s amazing what a difference a little effort can make.
•Teach children well. Help create the next generation of environmental stewards. Involve kids in recycling and make it fun. Even preschoolers can help with sorting recyclables, and they’ll learn a lot about the world around them. Someday, they may even help with taking out the trash.
•Don’t forget about “Reduce” and “Reuse” – Reducing the amount of trash we throw away and reusing products before throwing them out or recycling them creates the least impact on the planet and our resources. Consider how you might “reuse” products before they re-enter the waste stream.
For local recycling dos and don’ts, visit www.losalamosnm.us/gogreen/Pages/Residential.aspx.