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West Hartford: Think about the Environment on Earth Day

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A friendly recycling alert from the Town of West Hartford’s Department of Public Works.

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By Katherine Bruns, Recycling Coordinator

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day is Wednesday, April 22!

West Hartford, here is an Earth Day activity: Let’s take this quarantined day to think about the environment, take stock of the waste we produce in our homes, learn how to properly manage it, and set goals to reduce it.

Oddly, quarantines gives us a RARE and unique opportunity to take stock of the amount of waste material we produce weekly.

Like many other systems supply chains, the waste management system has also be greatly disrupted due to COVID -19. One aspect of this disruption is that because households are not dispersing throughout the day to offices, schools, places of worship, restaurants, and gyms, all the trash we generate as individuals on a daily basis is gathered and visually present in our own homes. This is a great learning opportunity!

Think of it as a reality check and ask yourself: Am I sending as little as possible to trash? Am I recycling ONLY what is allowable? Can I reduce the amount of waste I produce by shopping differently? Am I wasting too much food? Can I consider composting? Donating … ?

While sheltering in place, take an informal audit of your own trash and recycling. Make it a game with your family! (See quiz link below). Too often material that is not allowed, like styrofoam and metal, is placed in blue barrels, filling barrels with the wrong items. Some of this is “wish-cycling” (hoping a material can be recycled) and some is indifference. Not only does this consume valuable space in blue barrels but it often causes entire loads of West Hartford recycling to be rejected at our Municipal Recycling Facility (MRF).

West Hartford is subject to fines every time there is a “contaminated” recycling load. The costs add up!

Take this time to research how to consume differently so that less recycling and trash is created in the first place. Consider ideas like choosing items with less packaging where possible, refusing excess plastic and paper that comes with a carryout order, using reusable water bottles (only a  fraction of water bottles actually get recycled), refusing bags whenever possible, eating up all your food … the list goes on. We CAN create less trash and recycling!

For families with children in the house this is a good opportunity to bring them into the learning opportunity. Ask yourselves and them “is this an allowed recyclable?” and if there is any doubt, throw it out. But better yet search for the answer. Here are some places to find answers:

Remember: When in Doubt, Throw it Out. 

We can Recycle Right and Reduce Waste!

Happy Earth Day, West Hartford!

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