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SALT LAKE CITY — Taylorsville Mayor Larry Johnson says he is a textbook example of how anyone can be taught to recycle their household waste.
"I was one of, probably, the worst. I would put just about anything in the garbage can. My wife, and you know how women are, she said, 'You know what, you've got to start doing a little bit better,'" Johnson said.
The family now has dedicated garbage and recycling receptacles in their house, which makes it easier to dump into the appropriate blue recycling and black trash containers outside their home.
After a little prodding by his wife, Debra, he now seeks out recycling containers at community events.
"We can all do a better job and our percentage (of waste recycled) will increase," he said.
That's the aim of the challenge Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams issued county residents a year ago, to increase their household recycling by 20 percent in two years.
On Wednesday, the mayor reported the county's progress and renewed his challenge.
"Overall, we've increased recycling by 8 percent. We have one year left to raise that amount and reach the 20 percent goal," McAdams said Wednesday.
Did you know that every ton of paper that's recycled saves 17 trees? If we were to recycle half of our trash, that would save the taxpayers $65,000 a day.
–Ben McAdams, Salt Lake County mayor
He noted that half of all the trash Americans throw away could be recycled.
"Did you know that every ton of paper that's recycled saves 17 trees?" McAdams said. "If we were to recycle half of our trash, that would save the taxpayers $65,000 a day."
Moreover, recycling creates four jobs for every one job created in waste management, he said.
"So we can help the environment, save taxpayers' dollars and create jobs. Sounds like a win to me," McAdams said.
Information about the county's recycling program is available at slco.org/recycle/HTML/byItem.html.
McAdams said Taylorsville and Holladay are "neck and neck" in meeting the challenge he issued a year ago.
Holladay, in fact, has already met the benchmark, said Mayor Robert Dahle.
"I would extend the challenge to our citizens in Holladay to try to get from 20 percent to 25 percent. That's just a 5 percent increase over the course of the next year and that will help us contribute to the countywide effort," Dahle said.
Taylorsville, meanwhile, plans to enhance its education efforts, informing residents what they should recycle and nearby sites that accept e-waste, glass, car seats and prescription medication. The city sends that information to residents in its newsletter and other communications.
"I really believe the important thing we need to increase our recycling is educate our people," Johnson said.