VALPARAISO | Though Valparaiso may recycle more than any other Indiana community, the city is eager to find ways to further reduce the waste that ends up in landfills. A new campaign, “Think Before You Throw” is designed to encourage all of us to think of ways to reduce, and reuse as well as recycle.
“We want to encourage people to think about all items we throw in the trash and hopefully reduce the amount of landfill-bound trash we generate, by promoting reusable products, and composting, as well as recycling,” said Ann Brugos of Public Works who is leading the campaign. “We want our garbage trucks to be the last resort.”
• Americans produce the most waste in the world. The average American throws away 4.6 pounds of trash every day!
• Americans use 2,500,000 plastic water bottles every hour. For something that is available virtually free, that packaging costs a lot of money—and produces a lot of waste!
• 1 trillion plastic shopping bags are used worldwide every minute. They eventually break down, but the toxins remain in the environment.
Think Before You Throw encourages people to think these things before throwing “trash” away:
• Is it harmful to the environment? Discarded medicines, batteries, smoke alarms, and many household chemicals can be hazardous if not disposed of properly. The next Household Hazardous Waste collection event will be May 18 (9 AM-2 PM) at the Porter County Expo Center, sponsored by the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County www.itmeanstheworld.org)
• Fluorescent bulbs should never go in the trash! Please bring them to Valparaiso Public Works (406 Don Hovey Dr), the Valparaiso Compost Site (2150 W Lincolnway), or Home Depot for proper disposal.
• Packaging has to get paid for somehow, so don’t throw your money away on over-packaged products (think single-serving portioned foods and beverages.) Pay less for larger quantities and place in reusable containers for lunches.
• Can it be composted? Each year, the average American throws out 1,200 pounds of organic garbage (food scraps and yard waste) that can be composted.
• Can it be recycled? Valparaiso has been a leader in residential recycling in Indiana, but there is still room for improvement.
• Can it be repaired, reused, repurposed or donated?
To promote the Think Before You Throw campaign, Public Works introduced a poster contest at Valparaiso High School. Mayor Costas recognized the winning posters by Nathan Biancardi and Mayra Valle, which are featured on Public Works garbage trucks. Winners were chosen from entries submitted by students of Marilyn Hanson’s IB/AP Art Class.