Over the next three weeks, Sara Melnicoff, founder of Moab Solutions, and Abby Scott of Canyonlands Community Recycling (CCR) will show Salazar how to make her household more environmentally sustainable by incorporating some simple changes into her regular routine.
If she successfully implements Melnicoff and Scott’s suggestions, Salazar will be awarded a free year of curbside recycling from Green Solutions, as well as $500 in cash. She will also receive gift certificates from Moonflower Community Cooperative, WabiSabi and EklectiCafe.
Salazar said that once her kids moved out of the house it became increasingly obvious just how much trash she and her husband, Vincent, produced.
“It’s easy to see how much trash just my husband and I were using,” said Salazar. “It seemed suddenly controllable and when I saw the [Go Green Challenge] I thought it was perfect timing to see if I could get some help and support and learn about recycling.”
During their first meeting on Saturday, March 7, Melnicoff told Salazar that an individual’s “lifetime waste” is approximately 120,000 pounds — about four and a half pounds of waste per day.
“If you follow the things we recommend, your lifetime waste would go down to 18,000 pounds,” Melnicoff said. “That to me is a pretty compelling reason to practice the famous mantra of reduce, reuse, recycle.”
Melnicoff and Scott kicked off the challenge by assessing Salazar’s home and showing her exactly which household items can and cannot be recycled in Moab.
Salazar said that when she first moved to Moab from Portland almost seven years ago, she became confused about the different recycling system in Grand County.
She said she eventually fell into a pattern of simply throwing everything in the trash because she was too overwhelmed to begin recycling.
“Besides glass, I don’t even know where to start,” Salazar said. “I just want to know how it all works and where it goes in order to be educated about it instead of being ashamed or throwing it in the trash.”
But with a Green Solutions recycling bin set up at her home now, and three paper bags labeled for office paper, newspaper and paperboard, Salazar met her first challenge — correctly dividing recyclables.
With the help of CCR’s “Mixed Paper Recycling” sheet, Salazar learned that while glossy envelopes and toilet paper tubes can be recycled, a to-go coffee cup won’t make the cut.
“The coffee cup is one of the few paperboard items that we can’t recycle because it’s too waxy,” Scott said. “A good way to remember that is if it contains a liquid like ice cream, milk, coffee, then it’s too waxy. But if it’s a little bit waxy and contains a solid like an oatmeal canister, then it’s okay.”
“Another test is if you can rip it,” Melnicoff added. “If you can’t tear it, you can’t recycle it.”
Beyond recycling, Melnicoff and Scott also introduced Salazar to other sustainable practices such as reducing “vampire power” consumption by unplugging electronic equipment when it is not in use.
Scott suggested using power strips for electronic items — especially those with standby and idle modes — so they can be turned completely off when not in use.
“WabiSabi always has power strips, so we’ll plug things into those and then turn the strips off at night so it turns everything [off] that would usually be stuck in idle position,” Scott said.
Melnicoff and Scott also suggested composting yard leaf waste at the Youth Garden Project or local farms, as Moab city does not yet have a municipal composting facility.
“The leaves are the nourishment for the next trees and they just get hauled in trash bags to the landfill,” Melnicoff said. “We really need municipal leaf composting.”
Scott noted that the Youth Garden Project at 530 South 400 East accepts leaves throughout the year, although the facility sometimes reaches capacity.
At the close of the first Go Green Challenge assessment, Salazar said she was feeling positive about implementing green lifestyle practices into her household.
She said the Go Green Challenge will be part of a new start, which might also involve learning to play a new instrument — the ukulele.
“There’s going to have to be some changes and I’m ready for that,” said Salazar. “I’m excited — as well as learning to play the ukulele. Maybe I’ll even write a song about it,” she said, laughing.
Next week, Salazar will visit the Grand County Recycling Center with Melnicoff and Scott to see what happens once recyclables are collected.
For more information about the Go Green Challenge or to learn about greener living in Moab, visit Moab Solutions at the website: www.moab-solutions.org, and Canyonlands Community Recycling at: www.moabrecycles.org.