Archived Story

Why pay more for extra bells and whistles?

Published 9:31am Thursday, October 3, 2013

Column: Solid Waste Officer, by Randy Tuchtenhagen

There are many places where you can obtain information about reducing waste, recycling, composting and properly disposing of odd or special items.

However, some of those websites or magazine ads are too general in nature and the suggestions do not apply to services offered in our area. However, I have found a few good examples.

Randy Tuchtenhagen
Randy Tuchtenhagen

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency maintains a number of great websites that are very informative and provide ideas about waste that are easy, inexpensive and legal.

By using the website, you will find a lengthy list of specific areas for waste reduction, composting and recycling. The topics include at school, at the office, composting, when shopping, traveling, at home and many other places where waste can be reduced and we can save money.

For many of us it is not just an environmental issue; it is about not purchasing garbage and then hiring a garbage company to haul it away and bury in a hole in the ground. That may sound crazy to some, but it’s what is happening.

We are often misled by advertising, shiny packaging and good smells that encourage us to purchase items we believe are needed. If soap doesn’t smell good and look beautiful or have a pretty wrapper, the consumer would not purchase it. All we need is a soap that will clean our hands and not perfumed chemical doses with a pretty wrapper.

Why does tissue paper and toilet paper come in white? Would you purchase a roll of paper towels if they came in brown? Wood pulp is naturally brown or a dark color so that means that bleaching agents and chemicals were added to make it look nice and feel clean.

Do these chemicals improve or benefit to the use of the product? I think not. But you pay for it when you purchase items in beautiful packaging and pleasant fragrances. In many instances the product is no more effective than the bland, dull looking product next to it.

According to an article I read recently in a trade magazine, some shampoo products may contain as many as 20 ingredients. Only three of them clean your hair. People often purchase bottled water because they were led to believe it was better, cleaner or a safer way to consume water.

Not so. Every source I research shows that there are no rules or oversight for companies that bottle water, but your public drinking supply is highly regulated.

Sure it may not have the best flavor or may show a little discolor, but public drinking water in the United States is safe, safe, safe. Purchasing bottled water means you are supporting the plastic bottling industry, the trucking and transportation system (including highway maintenance and repairs) and added expense to your grocery bill.

Check out the websites offered by the MPCA for more information about living green. There is also information about handling asbestos or mercury and guidelines for managing mud and used sandbags after a flood. They are contaminated with flood waste and should be dealt with as hazardous.


Randy Tuchtenhagen is the solid waste officer for Freeborn County.