Thanks to a happy collaboration between the Rotary Club of Evergreen and the Evergreen Park and Recreation District, public recycling in the mountain area is finally getting a good workout.
In the first serious effort of its kind, tidy receptacles stationed at several EPRD properties are doing a brisk business turning potential landfill into net energy savings. With luck, says recycling sparkplug Mereth Meade, other groups and organizations will soon follow suit.
“It’s sort of a passion of mine,” says Meade, who’s also in her third year on the board of the Colorado Association for Recycling. “My dream of utopia for Evergreen would be for every trash barrel to have a recycling bin to go with it.”
Meade started promoting her Earth-friendly campaign to EPRD long ago, and for a very good reason.
“I use the recreation centers a lot, and I saw all these people with their water bottles just throwing them in the trash because there was no place to recycle them. The board paid lip service to the idea of a recycling program, but I had to wait five years until Kit Darrow got elected before anything happened. She and Allan Casey were very receptive to the idea.”
Not surprisingly, Meade heads Evergreen Rotary’s year-old environmental committee, which, among other things, corralled 9,000 pounds of shredded documents for recycling and, along with Evergreen Fire/Rescue, safely disposed of more than 15 tons of toxic debris by hosting the area’s first-ever Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day. In that spirit of leading by example, Meade’s Rotary committee scraped together $2,000 to purchase a pair of combination trash/recycling bins and donated them to EPRD last March — one for the Buchanan Recreation Center and one for the Evergreen Lake House.
“We just wanted to get them started,” Meade says, “and show them that a recycling program could work.”
It did, prompting the district to adopt a formal recycling policy and assemble its own fleet of recycling bins. There are currently four receptacles sprinkled around the Marshdale fields and four more at Stagecoach Park, not to mention several smaller indoor recycling barrels. Two more trash/recycling bins are destined for the Evergreen Recreation Center as soon as the remodel concludes, and the district now makes recycling barrels available for private events on request. Since March, the barrels in Buchanan alone have yielded well over 3,000 gallons of recycled plastic, paper and aluminum. The harvest from outdoor locations won’t be known until next summer’s sporting season swings into high gear.
“Evergreen Disposal Service has been really helpful in making this work,” says EPRD facilities manager Robbie Furler. “They supplied the containers, and they charge $45 a month to pick up the recycling from all of our locations and sort it out on their end. We hope we’ll make up that cost in reduced trash pick-up fees, but we won’t get those figures until January.”
From Furler’s perspective, EPRD’s recycling efforts are more than simply cost-effective and sound ecological policy. They’re the right thing to do.
“The district is the biggest employer in town, and it produces a lot of waste,” he says. “I think it’s important to do our part and set an example for the rest of Evergreen.”
Naturally delighted with the program’s early success, Meade has set her sights on other under-recycled areas.
“I’ve been talking to the Evergreen chamber about setting up bins downtown. They like the idea, but I guess it’s hard to get all of the merchants involved. That’s why I’m hoping other civic organizations will step up and contribute.”
Of course, a recycling bin works only if somebody puts something recyclable in it. For her part, Meade is confident that her mountain-area neighbors would like that chance.
“Most of the people in this community care about the environment,” she says. “Recycling saves resources, it saves energy, and then there’s the whole climate-change issue. How many more reasons do you need?”
Why recycle? Consider the following tidbits courtesy of the Colorado Association for Recycling and Earth 911.
- Colorado’s recycling rate of 12.5 percent ranks it 41st in the nation. The national average recycling rate is 28.5 percent.
- Paper accounts for almost 40 percent of the nation’s waste
- The average American uses almost 600 pounds of paper a year
- It takes 60-percent less energy to recycle paper than to make it from trees
- One box (5,000 sheets) of virgin copy paper requires more than half a tree to produce
- Almost 90 percent of all office paper is discarded
- Recycling 1 ton of office paper saves nearly 400 gallons of oil
- It takes 95 percent less energy to recycle an aluminum can that to make one from scratch
- The energy saved by recycling a single aluminum can could run a television set for 3 hours
- Aluminum can be recycled indefinitely, and a recycled container may be back on the store shelf within 60 days
- As opposed to virgin glass, recycled glass requires 25 percent less energy to make and creates 50 percent less water pollution and 20 percent less air pollution
- Americans drank about 50 billion bottles of water last year, but only recycled about 23 percent of them
- Manufacturing bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil per year, enough to fuel 100,000 cars
- Plastic bottles may lie intact in landfills for more than 700 years
- Among other things, recycled plastic bottles are in high demand as containers, carpet, jacket and sleeping bag insulation, tennis balls, furniture, shoes and auto parts.
Aah, the holidays! Lots of family, lots of friends, lots of food, and lots and lots and lots of trash. Below are some tips from the Colorado Association for Recycling on how to make this Christmas season jollier for both the pocketbook and the planet.
- Buy durable decorations that will last for many seasons
- If you don’t know what to get the finicky person on your list, a gift certificate should ensure their gift won’t end up in the garbage
- Buy holiday cards printed on recycled paper, or send less paper-intensive holiday postcards
- Give reusable gifts like coffee mugs, refillable pens, or canvas shopping bags
- Wrap gifts in the Sunday comics, or in a magazine article on a topic of interest to the receiver, or in durable products like bath towels, sheets or canvas bags
- Use festive cloth napkins when entertaining
- If a gift requires batteries, include rechargeable batteries and a charger to go with them
- For a New Year’s Resolution, resolve to recycle more and buy more recycled products