Summer is full of fun events. You could go to a different parade, fair or festival every week if you wanted to! While we all love having a good time, events and parties create a lot of waste. Everything thrown away was once a natural resource, so reducing waste will help conserve natural resources. From water bottles and paper plates to beer cans and décor, read on for info on event recycling and reducing your waste!

Event recycling: Hosting a reunion or planning a town festival or fair? The Otter Tail County Recycling Center has collapsible event recycling bins you can check out for free! Simply reserve the number of bins you need for your event, pick them up at the recycling center, then return them after your event along with your recycling! These bins have been used at weddings, reunions, graduation parties, concerts, the county fairs, and more! For more information, or to reserve bins, call the Otter Tail County Solid Waste Office at 218-998-4898.

Summer recycling tips: With the influx of summer visitors to our area, recycling drop-off locations can get full. While we are working hard to get to all of our sites in a timely manner, there are times when you might visit a site that is very full. Even for households with access to single-stream recycling in Fergus Falls and Perham, recycling can really add up! To help fit more materials into the recycling containers, please use the following tips:

• Flatten all cardboard. More cardboard will fit in the collection containers if it is put in flat.

• Don’t bag your recycling. More material will fit into the containers if it is loose. Bags cause problems at our facility, so recycling should never be bagged.

• Avoid common recycling mistakes: avoid putting paper plates and other soiled paper products in your recycling, don’t try to recycle Styrofoam, and don’t try to recycle plastic bags in your recycling bin (drop them off at a retailer for recycling).

Choose to reuse: More waste is created when we increase our use of disposable items. Whenever possible, choose reusable utensils, plates, napkins and water bottles. Mismatched plates and cups from thrift stores can add a touch of whimsy without breaking the bank. Serve water or other beverages with a large thermal dispenser. If you are using disposable cups or bottled beverages, put out a permanent marker so guests can label their cup or bottle. This eliminates confusion and the need to grab another cup or bottle when you lose track of which one is yours!

Waste-free décor: Plastic tablecloths may not seem like a big deal, but every disposable item we use adds up! While we want to be festive, we shouldn’t need to make more trash to have a great time! Skip the plastic balloons and cheap decorations from the store and opt for simple and elegant decorations that don’t need to be thrown away:

• Real tablecloths are simple to care for and dress up even the most casual event!

• Use candles or LED lights to add some ambiance.

• Hang up fabric party banners – kids will enjoy helping you make them too!

• Cut some natural greenery, flowers or grasses for simple decorations in thrifted or repurposed containers such as clean jars.

For more information about recycling or reducing your waste please visit ottertailcountymn.us/recycling or call 218-998-4898.

Cedar Walters is the public information and education officer for the Otter Tail County Solid Waste Department.

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