If there’s one thing you can say about Montanans, it’s that we love our land and care about keeping the state wild, clean, and beautiful. A great way to be involved in the efforts to maintain a pristine Montana is to help reduce the amount of waste that goes into our state’s landfills each year. Today, the United States is generating more municipal solid waste than ever before. The good news is, there are plenty of ways for you to decrease your solid waste footprint right here in Billings.
The best way to minimize what you’re throwing out at home or on the job is to employ “The Three R’s,” and the order is important.
REDUCE: Using less is the best way to keep waste out of our landfills.
REUSE: Get the most out of items by using them more than once or re-purposing them.
RECYCLE: This should be the last option. Recycling transforms your trash into a raw material.
Reducing and reusing are easy practices to implement at home and can have significant impacts on our environment and community. Once you get to the recycling stage, there are numerous options in Billings to assist in your efforts.
Curbside recycling programs are a seamless way to integrate recycling into your family’s lifestyle or business culture. There are two options for Billings residents: Earth First Aid and Republic Services, and both are unique in their collection services.
Earth First Aid is a local business, started by Billings native Scott Berens. Scott and a team of six other employees offer residential and commercial curbside “source-separated” recycling. This means that customers do basic sorting in their bins at their home or business, then Earth First Aid hand sorts at the curb before bringing your waste back to their facility in Billings. This method of recycling greatly decreases contamination, which is the biggest issue facing the recycling industry and the largest contributor to recycled items ending up in a landfill. Though Earth First Aid is a small, local business, they are making big impacts in the number of materials kept out of our Montana landfills. All collected steel and aluminum is processed locally, and all micro-brew bottles go to Missoula-based Bayern Brewing Inc., who wash the bottles, strip the labels, and refill them with Montana-brewed German beer. Earth First Aid also offers donation bins across town.
Republic Services provides customers with one recycling bin and an “all-in-one” approach to home recycling. If you are new to recycling or feel like you may be too busy to put effort into sorting, Republic might be a great option for you. They work to make recycling effortless for the customer, and with over 60 recycling centers and 30,000 employees nationwide, they are well-equipped to handle the nearly 5-million tons of recyclable materials that they collect from Billings and other communities each year.
When we think of recycling, most of us probably think paper, plastics, metals, and glass. But the Billings community also offers ways to dispose of waste that is a little more outside the “bin.” From food waste to automobile fluids to electronics, there are plenty of resources available.
Recycling yard waste and food waste can be an easy way to give back to our community and our land. For yard waste, the city of Billings offers a free-of-charge recycling bin with a weekly pick-up for most residents from April to November. For food waste, if you enjoy gardening or know someone who does, try composting at home. Another local option for recycling yard and food waste is Rocky Mountain Compost, a Billings-based manufacturer of compost, mulch, amended soil, and other landscaping products. All of their products utilize recycled materials.
The need for recycling electronic waste has become significant in our digital age. Yellowstone E-Waste Solutions is a Billings company that has found a niche for doing just that and has partnered with the Billings Solid Waste Division to provide free residential electronic waste recycling for residents of Yellowstone and neighboring counties. This can be done at their drop-off locations and includes a wide array of electronics – computers, small kitchen appliances, cell phones, power tools, rechargeable batteries, and some TVs, to name a few.
The true key to success in reducing waste is education. Recycle Montana is an organization whose goal is to provide Montanans with the knowledge and local resources that they need. The organization has also started an initiative to get informative recycling “Education Trunks” into every public school in Montana. Their informative website offers tips on reducing and reusing, decreasing contamination in recycling, and even recycling craft ideas.
With all these resources right at your fingertips, we hope you’re feeling energized to implement some new practices into your lifestyle to start reducing waste through recycling!
- Educational Resource: recyclemontana.org
- Curbside Recycling: earthfirstaid.com, republicservices.com
- Yard and Food Waste: rockymountaincompost.com
- Electronic Recycling: yellowstoneewaste.com
- City of Billings, Recycling Programs: ci.billings.mt.us/2555/City-Recycling-Programs
about the author…Anna Rogers is a transplant from the Carolinas with a background in marketing and graphic communications. She is a wife and mother who loves to garden, cook, and practice yoga. Anna is passionate about travel, which at its core is really a passion for people, as she believes people and community are what truly bring life and beauty into a place.
Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s April 2018 issue.
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