SLC Must Step Up Recycling Game

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As a self-proclaimed environmentalist, I take recycling seriously. I bought three trash cans so I could sort and recycle my garbage. It was only after I’d spent hours organizing my garbage that I realized there wasn’t anywhere to take it. All there is at my apartment is a regular old dumpster. In order to recycle I have to get in my non-electric, emissions-producing car and drive my trash to a recycling center. Which defeats the purpose of recycling because, frankly, the pollution in Salt Lake City is famously ridiculous. A friend’s post on Facebook showed the city from her view during a hike and the city was totally hidden by smog. This raises the question: should I pollute (drive my car) in order to make the environmentally-conscious choice and recycle? Salt Lake City needs to take recycling more seriously.

According to Utahrecycles.org, only 25 percent of plastic produced in the U.S. is recycled. Plastic takes up to a thousand years to degrade in a landfill. Walk down the sidewalk in SLC and you’ll see garbage all over the place. This makes our home unappealing to visitors and ourselves and makes it look appealing to rodents.

My hometown doesn’t even have a recycling center, let alone special blue trash cans meant for recycling. The tap water isn’t the best for drinking so my parents stock up on water bottles that end up in the trash anyway.

I currently can’t afford a Brita filter and I don’t have one of those fancy fridges where clean water can come out of the freezer, so I’m back to water bottles; it’s almost like I’m being forced to contribute to destroying the planet because of how difficult it is to find recycling and afford sustainable products. If I had a car that ran on solar power or didn’t emit gas then I would literally drive to the nearest recycling center — either Park City or West Valley — and recycle. But driving that distance three times a week is as bad as not recycling. Even if I sorted my trash, once I took it to the dumpster, it wouldn’t matter because the trash collector wouldn’t know it was meant to be recycled.

I would like one of three things to happen: 1) either a trash collector should specifically pick up recyclables from each apartment complex in the city just like regular trash collectors, as they do in other Utah cities; 2) buses whose destinations happen to be near the few recycling centers in the county should collect recyclables at each stop, like school buses for papers and plastics; or 3) there should be recycling center every square mile, like churches. I do not at all feel like that would be excessive, because I’m alarmed by the amount of trash my household alone produces, so I think it’s safe to assume that not a single one of those extra recycling centers would be empty. Families can literally walk to church every Sunday because of how close churches are to their homes. I would like to be able to walk my recyclables to their proper home each week.

Until a solution arises, I will do my best by cutting back on water bottles and drinking tap water, but if I happen to get poisoned, I hope my ghost comes back to seek revenge on those who refuse to take action. People think that little things like recycling or carpooling can’t make a difference, but in cities as populated as Salt Lake, anything helps.

a.patience@dailyutahchronicle.com

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