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Take action to save the planet and turn trash into treasure


Iowa City dumpster. — Photo by Paul Roeder

Worried about the future of the planet but not sure what to do about it? Head to the library Thursday in Iowa City and get some tips to lighten your carbon footprint.

An Evening Dedicated to Protecting Planet Earth

Meeting Room A, Iowa City Public Library — Thursday, March 23, 6 p.m.

Get ready for Earth day by learning to reduce, reuse and recycle at this film screening and workshop hosted by Landlocked Film Festival. This free event features the documentary Racing to Zero: In Pursuit of Zero Waste, which explores the city of San Francisco’s trailblazing attempt to reduce the city’s waste to zero by the year 2020. Key to their efforts is reimagining and repurposing discarded items as resources instead of garbage.

Attendees at the library event can enjoy refreshments from the New Pioneer Coop as they watch the film, peruse a display of upcycled projects and learn from Iowa City Landfill and Recycling Center Recycling Coordinator Jen Jordan.

Upcycling is different from recycling. While recycling breaks down materials like glass, metal and plastic and turns them into something entirely new, upcycling reuses the same items for a different purpose. It requires less energy than recycling, can be done with a broader range of materials, and reduces the need for new purchases, saving money and reducing waste.

For example: Plant flowers in an old tin can rather than taking the can to the recycling center and buying a flowerpot. Cheaper for you, less energy wasted to recycle the can and fewer new flowerpots in the world.

Jordan will lead an upcycling workshop, explain what the city of Iowa City is doing to reduce waste, including recycling and composting and educate attendees about the materials that make up the Iowa City landfill.

“Every community has different waste streams and different areas of focus. Food waste options are probably the most consistent need for most communities and we’re working hard to address that right now,” Jordan said in an email. “The biggest thing we can all do is reduce. It’s probably the hardest and least accepted answer societally, though. Waste reduction, i.e., buying less stuff and using fewer natural resources, means (at least for most of us!) changing our habits and making lifestyle changes.”

Iowa City introduced a new curbside composting program this spring. Participants get a sticker from the city to put on their own 35-gallon, lidded container, then place it on the curb with their regular trash and recycling. Stickers cost $12.50 and are good through the end of the calendar year. For those who want to go the extra mile, the city also provides a guide to backyard composting and a commercial composting program for local businesses.


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