This Is The Only Home We Have

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Featured

Published on September 01, 2021 with No Comments

Paper is one of the best items to recycle, whether it’s newspapers, magazines, or brown paper bags.

The end of summer is rapidly approaching and so are those Labor Day parties and gatherings.

Recycling is one approach for reducing landfill waste, but replacing single-use items with reusable alternatives is another way to tackle a growing environmental problem.

Plastic accounts for a significant share of landfill waste each year. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 91% of plastic does not get recycled. Plastics are among the top solid waste materials (behind paper, paperboard and food), and single-use items like bags, sacks and bottles, represent the largest segment of plastic waste.

These environmentally friendly solutions for swapping single-use plastics are steps that can help reduce landfill waste:

Plastic Bags and Containers

In virtually every retail setting, plastic bags are the norm for transporting purchased food and other goods. However, these bags, which are used just minutes or, at best, hours, take as long as 500 years to degrade in a landfill. 

When shopping, fabric, canvas and woven totes are effective ways to bundle your purchases. Some even offer internal cubbies and sleeves to help keep items organized during your commute. When it comes to sandwich and other storage bags, washable silicone options give you the same convenience for packing in lunchboxes and saving leftovers.

Plastic Water Bottles

A study by the Beverage Marketing Corporation found that, excluding 2008 and 2009, bottled water volume has increased every year from 1977-2019. Each person who chooses an alternative such as Brita water pitchers, faucet filters and reusable bottles over single-use plastic water bottles can remove up to 1,800 plastic water bottles from circulation each year. 

“Unlike companies whose sole focus is to sell consumers bottled water, which is incredibly detrimental to the environment, costly and unnecessary, Brita has been focused on bettering our planet,” said Eric Schwartz, Brita general manager. “Recycling is simply not enough.”

Ultimately, the multi-use filter manufacturer is on track to eliminate 15 billion single-use plastic water bottles this year, working toward a 2030 goal of replacing 20 billion bottles a year. 

Making the switch from single-use plastic water bottles provides other environmental benefits, as well, including preventing ozone depletion and eutrophication, which occurs when excessive rich nutrients in water negatively impact plants and animals. 


With some of the nation’s biggest cities issuing bans and major food chains halting their use, it’s a good indication that plastic straws are an environmental concern. While many experts acknowledge straws account for a large overall percentage of the garbage that makes it into landfills or the ocean, environmental advocates point out few straws ever make it to a recycling bin, and those that do are often so small they are filtered out of recycling machinery. 

With multiple alternatives such as recyclable paper, reusable silicone or stainless steel readily available, it’s a simple step toward making a difference.

For more ideas to live a more sustainable lifestyle and make choices that benefit the planet, visit

Time to rethink use of plastic cups for parties and gatherings

Solo cups, those red or blue disposable plastic cups you use for parties and barbecues to make cleanup a snap, are not recyclable curbside or at drop-off sites anywhere in Northwest Indiana. Even worse, once thrown in the garbage, it is estimated that each cup will take hundreds of years to break down in a landfill.

If you are looking for an alternative to Solo cups at your event, try offering reusable cups or serve drinks in their original containers: bottles and cans that are recyclable.

In the case of Solo cups, a company called TerraCycle will accept and recycle Solo cups. Participants can even turn Solo cup recycling into a fundraising opportunity. Visit for details.

If you already recycle, what else can you do to help the planet? 

Resolve to do one or more of these, as many of them are simple but have a substantial impact on the environment.

1.  Bring cloth reusable bags with you when you are shopping. Reducing your consumption of plastic bags means fewer bags will end up in our landfills. Don’t forget to take reusable bags with you to the malls when you go clothes shopping. 

2.  Stop buying bottled water. Buy a reusable bottle, fill it up at your tap and carry it with you wherever you go. Use jugs if you need to bring more than a personal supply. Think of how much money you will save from not buying bottled water and how much plastic you won’t consume.

3.  Reduce your usage of paper towels and napkins. Use cloth towels and napkins instead of paper ones and simply launder and reuse them. You’ll reduce the amount of paper that winds up in landfills and save money by buying less. 

4.  In fact, as noted by the previous three points, reduce your overall consumption of disposable items. What items do you use once then throw away? For example, do you use paper plates because you hate washing dishes? Paper plates cannot be recycled because of food residue. You’ll save money and resources when you stop buying them. Do you use dryer sheets? Nix them. You won’t miss them.

5.  Replace your light bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs that last longer and can cut your energy use by as much as 85 percent.  

6.  Take advantage of special recycling programs that are offered in your area. For example, if you have never attended a household hazardous waste collection event, make this the year you attend these events. 

7.  Switch to using only cold water when washing clothes, as most of the money you spend doing laundry goes toward heating the water. 

8.  Resolve to conserve water and install rain barrels on your downspouts. Save and store some of the water Mother Nature provides and use it to water your flowers and gardens. 

9.  Commit to buying used products or renting before you buy anything new. You can find everything from secondhand clothes to accessories to cars and furniture. You’ll save money and reduce the demand to create new items, saving resources. 

10.  Buy items made of recycled materials whenever possible to help increase the demand for recycling. The reason why recycling works is because companies buy the materials you throw in your bins to make their products. If no one is purchasing these products, there’s no need for them to use recycled materials. Recycling is market-driven supply and demand. Let’s help increase the demand for recycled materials by purchasing products made from them. 

DID you KNOW? Need an ATM?
Did you know ATM Receipts aren’t recyclable? Receipts are printed and processed with thermal paper and BPA. BPA stands for bisphenol-A. It’s a chemical that typically helps to harden plastics. Receipt paper resists decomposition as it’s comprised of multiple layers. With ATM transactions opt for email receipts instead of paper.
Got Plastic Bags?
Plastic bags can be recycled at the Valparaiso Compost Site located at 2150 W. Lincolnway. Hwy. 130 – 1 mile west of intersection with Joliet. Plastic bags should not be placed in recycling bins as they jam and damage the machines at local sorting facilities. Helpful Tip: If the plastic material in question can be wrapped around your finger, it doesn’t belong in your recycle bin.
Need to Shred?
Did you know paper shreds shouldn’t be placed in regular curbside recycling? As recyclables are processed at local sorting facilities, shredded paper can become tangled with machine lines or fall through screens. Crews at sorting facilities are often unable to retrieve paper shreds. Try to shred only necessary documents and utilize area collection programs for high volume amounts.
Old Electronics?


If you received new electronics and are looking for a place to dispose of your old ones, there are plenty of recycling drop-off sites around you. Contact your solid waste district to locate the nearest facility.

Accepted items include computers, tablets, cell phones, monitors, televisions, typewriters, copiers, PDAs, VCRs, fax machines, microwaves, scanners, gaming machines and anything with an electrical cord or run by batteries. 

You’ll reduce your impact on the environment by diverting materials away from landfills and helping to save our precious natural resources. 

Porter County: 219-465-3694, visit, or email,

Lake County: 219-769-3820, visit, or email,

LaPorte County: 219-326-0014, visit, or email,

Special Event Recycling?

We offer special event coordinators in Porter County a free service to help collect the large amounts of recyclables their events can create. We loan out ClearStream and Recycle Clear collection containers to anyone planning special events in Porter County: churches, schools, towns, families, businesses, non-profits. 

Guests want to recycle, and you can help them! No event too small! Collecting recyclables at events is simple and easy.   Download and print “Guidelines for Successful Recycling at Your Event” for reference.

For more helpful information, visit or call Dawn at the District at 219-465-3695.

Saturday, Oct 9     

9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.         

Porter County Expo

215 E. Division, Valparaiso

Use Gate 3

Tires will be collected at this event, for Porter County Residents only

Find a convenient location near you:

  • Boone Grove, just east of Boone Grove Fire Department, 319 W. 550 South 
    • Burns Harbor Street Department, 310 Navajo Trail
    • Chesterton, 1600 Pioneer Trail (Strack & VanTil)
    • Hebron Municipal Building, 125 N. Main St.
    • Kouts Town Garage, 406 S. Kouts. St.
    • Valparaiso, 2150 W. Lincolnway (Hwy. 130 – 1 mile west of intersection with Joliet)

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