The ‘Day without a Bag’ event aims to lessen the amount of plastic bags that end up in landfills every year. It’s an event in the Fargo-Moorhead area that reminds citizens that they can bring their plastic bags back to the stores and the stores will manage the recycling on the bags.
Jen Pickett, who started her recycling career collecting it from the curbside of homes, is now the recycling coordinator for the city of Fargo, is in charge of the event and works to educate the public.
She doesn’t want unnecessary materials in the landfill as plastic bags take a long time to decompose.
According to earth-policy.org, plastic bags take about 1,000 years to decompose and over a trillion disposable plastic bags are used each year. Pickett aims to communicate to the FM community that they can make a difference and help reduce these numbers.
Her job involves a lot of public outreach, at the end of the month she will be visiting nine elementary aged classrooms to talk about recycling.
While public outreach is important, there’s more to recycling than just talking about it. Although Fargo has now moved onto single stream recycling, meaning people no longer need to sort out their recyclables, there are still problems to be faced.
For one, there are plenty of apartment buildings that don’t recycle. Pickett said that some reasons why apartment recycling is so difficult is because some of the planners that design these buildings don’t plan for both a place for trash and one for recycling. As a result there’s no room for a truck to get through if they were to put in a recycling receptacle.
Another challenge apartment complexes face is how their tenants recycle. After an amount of recycling is over half non-recyclables or other materials it can no longer be considered recycling and apartment complexes must send it to a landfill. It’s hard to control this within an apartment complex because it’s hard to hold certain tenants accountable when they all share one large receptacle.
Cost can also be a factor, some apartment complexes would rather pay less for a private trash service than for both a trash and recycling service from the city of Fargo, “I can’t judge that” said Pickett. Approximately 15 percent of Fargo apartment complexes recycle.
As for homeowners, Pickett reminds them to bring their yard clipping to the city compost center, located near the landfill, but to not bring their food waste as that’s not what they compost.
Pickett reminds the North Dakota State community to bring your plastic bags back to your grocery stores to recycle them.