The green, green grass of home (and away)

By Alisa Reckinger

Guest Columnist

It’s summertime! The kids are home from school. The weather is warmer. Vacations are coming up, and days are filled with trips to the park, games or sporting events. You know what to throw and how to keep your home environmentally friendly, but don’t let the lazy days of summer impact your green habits. Enjoy your sun-filled days at the park or take in a game with the family while knowing there are ways to reduce, reuse and recycle everywhere you go.

Summertime, and the recycling is easy

Minnesotans are getting ready to spend more time outside, making it the perfect time to revisit how to recycle anywhere you go. Keep an eye out for recycling bins or bring a bag to collect recyclables to place in your bin when you get home. Encourage the whole family to recycle, and make it easy by setting up recycling signs in your cabin and collecting recyclables in a bin in your car when out and about.

The snacks of summer

If you are packing snacks for the team or your family, be sure the products you purchase come in recyclable containers. Juice cartons and bottles and cans are recyclable, but juice pouches aren’t (they’re a wish cycling trouble item). Stick with fruit for a great healthy snack, and put the scraps in your composting bin or in organics recycling. If you are heading to a ball park and want sunflower seeds or trail mix, go green and save green by using your own container and buying in bulk. Bulk options have environmental benefits by eliminating packaging waste.

Get started with these steps to buying in bulk:

  • Bring your own container to the store to maximize waste reduction.
  • Weigh your container so you can subtract that weight.
  • Only buy as much as you can eat while it’s fresh.
  • Write the container tare weight (weight when it’s empty) and item’s code on your container and bring it to the cashier.
  • Ask store staff for help if you have never purchased from the bulk bins before.

We’re going to reduce something this summer

Picnic lunches, day trips, long bike rides, and days at the lake can all involve reducing waste for you and your friends. Some great reasons to go reusable include keeping waste like plastic bags from harming animals and the environment and extending the lifespan of your reusable product well beyond that of its disposable counterpart. You can replace more non-reusable items than you think! There are waste-free solutions for lunch storage including snack and sandwich bags that can help save money and natural resources.

Waste-free out at the ball game

Sports facilities in Minnesota are required to recycle at sporting events, but they have gone above and beyond with hopes of greening as much as possible. Many stadiums now offer organics recycling and more. Check out some highlights of successful green initiatives taken at stadiums all around the metro:

Target Field: The home of the Minnesota Twins really knocks it out of the park with its many great recycling initiatives including organics recycling. The stadium diverted 6,905 tons of materials from landfills between 2011 and 2015. This includes diverting waste to recycling, organics recycling and waste-to-energy.

CHS Field: The still new home of the Saint Paul Saints is taking even more steps towards sustainability by having color-coded recycling stations throughout the concourse, clubs and suites that have customized bin labels with pictures of items found at the park. There are also volunteer “Recycling Umpires” posted at every waste and recycling station.

•National Sports Center: The world’s largest amateur sports facility is located in Blaine and is host to tons of tournaments and events throughout the year. The facility is now diverting an impressive 134 tons of recycling from the landfill and providing educational opportunities to the more than 4 million visitors on how to recycle and reduce more.

•Hayes Arena: This hockey and tennis arena located in Apple Valley is part of the Zero Waste at Public Space Venues pilot project funded by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Prior to the project, the arena did not have recycling or organics collection. It is now taking steps towards diverting waste.

Summer recycling, diverting a ton

If you don’t see recycling options somewhere, ask for them! Check with your county if you have questions about a location’s recycling program. Help work towards Minnesota’s recycling goals by recycling everywhere you go.

About RethinkRecycling.com: Minnesotans recycle over 2.3 million tons of paper, glass, metals, plastics, yard waste, and more each year, which create new products, such as cans, cardboard, newspaper, carpet, clothing, furniture, and much more. RethinkRecycling.com, provided by the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board, is your go-to guide for waste and recycling in the Twin Cities.