Environmental Group Educating Public About Plastic Cup Displays

Oct 31, 2018, 7:03 PM | Updated: Nov 1, 2018, 8:49 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A local environmental group has been getting the word out that there are better and more sustainable ways to welcome someone home than by sticking non-recyclable cups in overpass fences.

California native Liz Vowles said she commutes to work on the State Street pedestrian bridge over Interstate 15 in Farmington.

On multiple occasions, she’s had to pick up red, plastic cups on the ground from discarded and abandoned signs made by jamming the cups through the open spaces on the chain link.

“Yeah, none of this is recyclable plastic, unfortunately,” Vowles said as she picked up plastic cups rolling around the bridge in the wind.

At one point, the cups were stuck in the overpass fence to create some sort of sign – a tradition common in Utah to welcome back folks from missions, military service, or even to ask someone to prom.

“I think it’s very disappointing that people would take time to put these single-use plastic cups in a fence and never even think about what happens to them afterwards,” she said.

Vowles said she ends up picking most of them up often on her way home.

“It doesn’t take very much time for the wind to pick up and scatter the cups,” she said.

Frustrated, she brought the issue up to an environmental group in Utah.

“Honestly, even once we had already started ‘Zero Waste Ogden,’ I drove by many times, saw the cups and it didn’t even click in my mind until Liz brought it up,” said Adriana Van Vliet, a creator of the organization.

Vowles and Van Vliet hoped to make other Utahns aware of the waste, not to mention the practice is illegal.

“They’re lovely messages, but we do need to be aware of what it means when we’re using these cups,” said Van Vliet.

“This is all going into our closest landfill, very sadly. None of this is recyclable,” said Vowles, holding up a huge bag full of cups.

They have had conversations with the Utah Department of Transportation and the Farmington Police Department, who admitted that this just hasn’t been their top priority.

UDOT spokesperson John Gleason told KSL the same thing. He said there is a policy against signs in the right of way, but generally they let them stand unless it becomes a safety concern.

KSL has reached out to Farmington officials for their thoughts, as well.

The women planned to continue educating the public to help make a more positive impact on our communities.

“There are so many other alternatives that you could be doing to spread a positive message. You could, you know, do a flashmob to welcome somebody home. You could make a sign out of something that is biodegradable, like cardboard or paper,” Vowles said.

“There’s no reason why our state can’t be leading in environmental sustainability,” said Van Vliet.

For more information about recycling, check out this report put together by KSL’s Consumer team this summer: https://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=46360305

To connect with Van Vliet and Vowles, visit their website, zerowasteogden.com, or Instagram page.

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Environmental Group Educating Public About Plastic Cup Displays