Letters

Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

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RECYCLING: It’s All in the Details

Recycling used to be so black and white … literally.

Kristi Kates - July 21st, 2014  


Going green just meant recycling newspapers, with glass and aluminum a close second and third.

With practically everything recyclable now, being a responsible recycler can be a bit of a buzz kill on your Up North getaway.

To help clarify, a few of Northern Michigan’s biggest recyclers gave us the lowdown on what to throw down those bins.

SO MANY QUESTIONS

Paper, metal, glass … so easy to sort, most of us recycle these automatically.

Plastic, on the other hand, throws a wrench in what’s obvious and what’s not.

Different recycling facilities take various types of plastics, numbers 1-7 plastics being the most common.

Grocery bags? Bread wrappers? Egg cartons? Drink boxes? Shrink wrap? It’s all up to the recycler.

And that’s only the beginning.

If there’s an item in question, the easiest way to find out what to do is to call the local facility and ask. Some of them even have hotlines.

ROLLING RECYCLING

Jayna Steffel works at the Emmet County Recycling Center in Harbor Springs, which also serves Petoskey and the surrounding area.

Those without curbside recycling service can still recycle, she said.

“We and other companies have what’s called ‘roll-offs’ - they’re like an enclosed dumpster - at lots of locations that are open to the public,” she said. “In Harbor Springs, ours are by the IGA; in Petoskey, they’re by D&W Market north, and Bed Bath and Beyond south. These are more than okay for the public to bring their recycling to.”

The most recycled item at the facility is corrugated cardboard.

“So many people are getting things shipped directly to their homes now,” Steffel said.

Electronics, though not obvious, can also be recycled. “Computers, old cell phones, appliances, and TVs … these are all recyclable, too,” she said.

CHANGING WASTE

Styrofoam, which often arrives right along with that overload of corrugated cardboard boxes, is another tricky material as far as recycling goes.

“Styrofoam is a raw form of plastic called polystyrene, and to truly recycle it, it has to be melted down into plastic beads,” said Steffel. “We don’t have the capabilities to do that, and we don’t accept Styrofoam because the place we would have to send it away to incinerates it, and that’s not recycling.”

The best thing to do with Styrofoam, Steffel said, is to contact a shipping company to see if they will take if off of your hands.

“From what I understand, Styrofoam packing peanuts are expensive, so it makes sense to see if they can be reused,” she said.

Before doing anything, check to see if the packing peanuts are made out of cornstarch, a biodegradable substance, Steffel said.

“[Run] a few of the peanuts under water,” Steffel said. “If they’re cornstarch, they should dissolve immediately, and you can just run them down your drain.”

DOS AND DON’TS

Traverse City’s American Waste takes care of recycling needs in the Grand Traverse region, east to Gaylord, north to the Charlevoix area, and west to Suttons Bay.

American Waste’s general manager, Mark Bevelhymer, said that he thinks better recycling awareness has to start with better recycling education.

“With all of our customers, we always send them a marketing piece that outlines recycling procedures,” he said. “People just need to be really aware of what they can and cannot do as far as recycling.”

That, he said, will enable them to be more efficient recyclers.

Once the “dos” are figured out, though, potential recyclers are left with the “don’ts,” of which there’s yet another lengthy list.

Bevelhymer said there are some major don’ts as far as American Waste is concerned.

“We can’t recycle rubber products such as tires, any household paints, or light bulbs,” he said. “These are considered hazardous, and must be recycled at a household hazardous materials center.”

COMPUTERS TO BICYCLES

In addition to local recycling centers, Goodwill locations are another great place to bring computers, as they offer free recycling.

Goodwill is also well known as the perfect destination for unused clothing, furnishings, and kitchen items.

But if it’s a bicycle you’re not sure what to do with, Traverse City’s Don Cunkle can help.

Cunkle is the director of TC’s Recyclea-Bicycle, which, in cooperation with the Traverse Area Recreational Trails program, saves bikes and helps people in the process.

Recycle-a-Bicycle will take “any bicycle that’s brought through the door,” Cunkle said.

If they can’t fix the bicycle back to working order, they’ll use parts from it to repair other bikes.

“It can take anywhere from one to 10 hours to refurbish a bicycle,” Cunkle said. “If it’s unfixable, we’ll take anything good from it – the chain, seat, pedals – and use it for parts, sending the leftover metals, such as steel or aluminum, to a metals recycler.”

The effort’s worth it, he said, because Recycle-a-Bicycle’s work can actually change lives. The organization give away 150 bikes or more each year, for free, to the homeless or financially disadvantaged.

 
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