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Waste not, want less

Recycling takes community mindfulness

We live in a community with amazing natural resources and beautiful views; Albert Lea has trails, lakes, and even a mermaid! If we want to keep these wonderful assets, we need to create a sustainable plan to help us maintain them. This is where the Freeborn County Environmental Services come in.

Supporting a clean, safe community is not specific to our community. According to Freeborn County Solid Waste Manager, Mark Goskeson, "It's a world issue. Whether it is plastic in the Ocean, reducing what goes into landfills...reusing products or just reducing what we buy."

Local Sustainability in Action

I was curious about local resources to help reduce and reuse, and Mark offered some great ideas to consider. I have to confess, some of these have been around so long that I have taken them for granted, so let us revisit a few. KATE radio (1450 AM) offers the Partyline program from 9 a.m to 10 a.m. and Trading Post at 10:30 a.m. as a way to donate or reuse. As an occasional listener (not when I am working, of course), I love to hear what local people have to offer, which sometimes includes a lost pet or offers to move snow; more often, it involves somebody looking for used furniture or wanting to sell a used item. What a great way to help people connect and reuse and be Seestainable! I also follow some local community "For Sale" sites on Facebook, which is another great way to buy and sell (local) used items to avoid the landfill. There has been a resurgence of up-cycling and finding new uses for old items - I will share more info on this in another post!

Mark mentioned another great program in Freeborn County, set up to keep harmful items out of landfills to protect people and wildlife. The residential hazardous waste is offered for anyone in Freeborn County to bring in old paint, stain, aerosols, light bulbs, batteries and any other household chemicals for proper disposal. There are also electronic waste disposal events (2 per year) where e-waste can be turned in at a reduced price for safe disposal.

Recycling Basics

There are so many great opportunities to support sustainability in our area, with new ideas popping up each day, but recycling still seems to be a prime option IF done correctly. Freeborn County has doubled the amount of recycling tons in the past five year. Mark encourages us to continue recycling, while keeping these basic rules in mind: keep it clean by rinsing out containers; avoid food products; and NO plastic bags. He also noted several areas to explore for improving recycling efforts. One example was expanding recycling in public areas, especially the basics; tin cans, plastic bottles, news and office papers and cardboard. He also encouraged mindful shopping habits - ask yourself how the item will be used, how it is packaged and will you be able to reuse or sell it later?

How can you help out? If you are interested in learning more or becoming a volunteer, contact office support specialist Gina Gullickson at 507-377-5186. Jump in, get involved and help create the sustainable community you will enjoy for a long time!


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For clean and healthy surroundings it is essential to collect the jun, waste and dispose it to the junkyard so that surroundings will remain clean and hygiene. I have rented a new garage for placing all the unwanted items there but i have seen two junk cars placed there which are of no use. I have decided to sell junk cars so that more space will be added to my rented garage.

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