With not much effort, you can recycle


 believe more people would recycle if they knew how easy it can be. I have written some short articles that will be published in the paper in the next few weeks that will tell what and how to recycle, where recyclable items can be taken, what new items can be recycled now (including some changes the borough has made recently), and some practical tips for making the process easier.  

These tips also will help correct misinformation that is out there about recycling — some of which was addressed in Jack Maryott’s recent article, “Recycle Myths.”  

These short articles, each on specific materials, will appear in the Town Crier section of this paper — beginning this week. To find them, look for the familiar recycling symbol.  Everything will be fact-checked by the borough so the information will be correct and up to date. 

My first goal is to increase the number of different things people recycle. The more types of items recycled, the more volume is recycled.

For example, do you know that almost all paper can be recycled as mixed paper? This means that envelopes, catalogs, magazines, phone books, soft-cover books, paper rolls (like the inside of a T.P. roll), office paper, file folders, food/beverage boxes (not corrugated), paper egg cartons — almost any paper that does not have plastic or foil on it is OK to recycle as mixed paper. 

Also, big news is that now newspaper and mixed paper can be put in the same bins around town and at the dump. That makes recycling all paper much, much easier.

Which leads to my second goal: to make recycling easier for people. The easier it is, the more you are likely to recycle, and increased volume is what we want to work for.  

The articles will provide some tips on how to organize your efforts, but how much time you need to spend on these different items is also very important. The quicker it is the more likely you are to recycle that type of material.  

For example, many people wonder if metal cans like soup cans — some call these “tin cans” (those that a magnet will stick to) need to be washed out before recycling? The answer is “no,” they just need to be empty or at most, scraped out with a rubber spatula. 

Do tin cans need the labels taken off or flattened? No, you can leave the labels on and the cans do not need to be flattened. These cans can be quickly and easily recycled. They can only be recycled at the dump, however

A couple more things to get started — recycling locations. In August 2013, Homer’s landfill  became a transfer station because the Homer landfill is full. Trash is now baled and transported to the Soldotna landfill.  Officially, we have the Homer Transfer Facility, which is a mouthful.  Worse yet is when some publication casually refers to it as “HTF” — too many acronyms in the world today. 

I will call it the “dump” – though technically not correct, it’s one syllable instead of eight syllables. In addition to the dump, there are other locations in town with bins where you can recycle glass, cardboard, paper and aluminum: in the parking lot at Save-U-More, at McNeil Canyon and in Anchor Point.

In these days of limited budgets at every level of government, recycling  also can be fiscal issue. Did you know that solid waste is the second largest expense for the Kenai Peninsula Borough? Right behind education, which is the largest. The more of our trash that we can recycle here the less the borough has to haul to Soldotna, saving money. Another good reason to recycle.

These articles are part of a project by the Kachemak Advocates of Recycling (KARe), a recycling group that began way back in 1999, was dormant for a while and has recently become active again. We have meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies.  Anyone interested in helping is welcome to attend.  The contact number is 399-9477.  

To contact the borough’s Solid Waste Department, call 907-262-9667.

Lani Raymond is a retired teacher and longtime Alaskan who has lived in Homer since 2002.  She is a member of the Kachemak Advocates of Recycling (KARe) group and have been a resolute recycler for decades.