In The Zone

News from Carlton County Zoning & Environmental Services

Jun 02

Recycle Well at Home

Posted on June 2, 2021 at 8:51 AM by Karola Dalen

single stream recycling bin

It’s Earth Week 2020, and many of us are spending more time in our homes than ever before. 
If the kids are home too, then more garbage and more recycling is being generated every week.  Is your home recycling system working as efficiently as it could be?  Here are some tips to help your entire family recycle well at home. 

1. Keep it simple and convenient.

If you want your family and especially your children to start recycling or recycle better, you'll have more success if it’s easy for them. Set your family recycling cans in a high-traffic area, preferably near the garbage can. If it cannot go next to the garbage, consider placing it where the least amount of steps are required. If you need to separate your recyclables, make sure each container is clearly marked. Or collect them mixed then distribute into larger containers in the porch or garage during chore time. 

2. Does everyone know the rules?

Communication is important to make sure everybody is on the same page. Consider a family meeting to go over the rules of recycling in your house.  A list of what can and cannot be recycled should be provided by your curbside collection company.  If using a recycling center in Carlton County visit

3. A Recycling Guide

Consider making a “Recycling Guide” poster for your home or have the kids create one.  You can also email and we can help you out with an example. Post it on or near the recycling area or other common place in the house where it can be referenced with ease.

Johnson Family Recycling Guide 2

Here are some common tips to recycling well:

  • Never put plastic shopping bags in your curbside recycling or at a county recycling center. 
  • No liquids. 
  • Food should be scraped or washed out of containers.
  • Recycle plastics by shape: bottles, jars, jugs, and tubs. No plastic toys, plastic bins or buckets.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. If your not sure if something is recyclable its better to place it in the trash than the recycling bin.

4. Talk about conserving and preventing waste.

In the three R’s, Reduce and Reuse come before Recycling.  Preventing trash by making intentional choices not to create it has a tremendous environmental benefit.  So it’s worth the conversation. How can your family prevent items from going into the recycling bin or the trash bin in the first place? You might be surprised on what ideas your family members come up with!

Here is a list of recycling facts to help motivate recycling well at home.

  • Every time a ton of paper is recycled it saves 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4,000 kilowatts of energy and 7,000 gallons of water. (Source:
  • Recycling one aluminum beverage can save enough energy to run a 14 watt CFL bulb (60 watt incandescent equivalent) for 20 hours, a computer for 3 hours, or a TV for 2 hours. (Source: Environmental Factoids EPA)
  • There are over 80 billion aluminum cans used each and every year around the world. You can recycle aluminum over and over again. (Source:
  • Making new paper from recycled materials uses less energy than producing paper from virgin tree products and leaves more trees to absorb excess carbon dioxide. 
  • There will be 1.5 million new jobs generated in the U.S. when U.S. recycling levels reach 75 percent. (Source: Recycle Across America)
  • Also, when U.S. recycling levels reach 75 percent, it will be the environmental and CO2 equivalent of removing 55 million cars from U.S. roads each year. (Source: Recycle Across America)
  • Making recycled paper instead of new paper uses 64 percent less energy and uses 58 percent less water. (Source:
  • Americans use more than 67 million tons of paper per year, or about 580 pounds per person. (Source:
  • You can make 20 new aluminum cans from recycled material using the same amount of energy that it takes to make 1 brand new aluminum can. 

Aug 20

The Future of Recycling and Doing Our Part

Posted on August 20, 2020 at 2:23 PM by Karola Dalen

Sharing this excellent article by Chris Gass which was first published in the January 30, 2020, issue of the Moose Lake Star Gazette.

Continue Reading...

Jul 24

Taking Care of your Septic System

Posted on July 24, 2020 at 11:21 AM by Karola Dalen

Most septic system owners are aware of the basic maintenance required to keep your septic system operating smoothly:  have your tank(s) pumped at least every 3 years. However, there are a few other easy things you can do to help extend the life of your system.

If you have an effluent filter at the outlet of your septic tank, or between your septic tank and pump tank, be sure to clean in regularly.  Remove the maintenance hole cover, pull the filter out, and spray the filter clean with a garden hose, ensuring that the spray is directed back into the tank through the maintenance hole.  Do this at least every spring and fall when you take your garden hose out of storage and again before you put it away for the winter. This will prevent unwanted sewage backup. If you’re not sure if you have a filter, ask your maintainer the next time you have your tank pumped.

effluent filter

Second, there is no need to add additives.  These products, designed to aid in the breakdown of solids in the septic tank, do more harm than good.  These additives can liquefy solids allowing them to flow into and plug your drainfield. 

Next, maintain a mowed lawn over your drainfield or mound.  Woody plants have root systems that can damage the soil treatment system - this applies to the septic tank area too.  Short grass helps with rainwater runoff and evaporation of any excess water. It is ok to let the grass grow longer in the fall to provide some extra insulation for under the snow.  Speaking of snow, avoid compacting snow over the soil treatment system from snowmobiles or other means.

septic system mound

Finally, a reminder to secure your maintenance hole covers. If you have newer plastic lids, make sure they are securely screwed down with stainless steel screws.  One or two screws are not enough - please use all available screw holes to provide the maximum safety benefit. Heavy concrete lids work well too.

If you ever have questions about your septic system, feel free to contact us at the Carlton County Zoning & Environmental Services Office.