Approximately 60% of our trash thrown away today could be recycled. A survey was done and 9 out of 10 people surveyed said they would recycle more if it was easier. – Environment-Green
Judging by the number of committees, groups and businesses in Pueblo that are trying to help provide and support recycling in Pueblo, it is obvious that Pueblo’s inability to get comprehensive recycling is not due to lack of interested individuals and organizations. In fact it becomes very tiring and confusing trying to understand what they all do and keeping them all straight. Below are a few of the recycling groups that are dedicated to increasing recycling awareness and convenience in Pueblo.
The Pueblo Recycling Coalition – A new organization led by Mary Oreskovich and Renae Moreschini with the intent “to take existing knowledge and programs and combine them with community support and feedback to implement a citywide recycling program.” Meetings are held every 2 weeks with different speakers at each meeting. They are also very focused on setting goals and acting toward accomplishing them at each meeting. Contact: Renae 369-9495, Mary 542-4467, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join the group on facebook, on which they have a contact list of city/county officials and a form letter to send them about the urgency of a recycling program in Pueblo.
The City Recycle Committee is a group of individuals in the community that were selected by the City Council to help come up with and set into action a recycling program. From what I can tell, their main focus at the moment is working with Waste Connections. Their desire is to require an ordinance by the City Council that will mandate curbside recycling for the residential community. This payment could be assessed through the property tax and collected with the water bill. The dollar amount that would be imposed on the residence is around $7 per month, the ordinance would require that everyone pay this fee whether they choose to recycle or not. This would not be assessed on commercial accounts, as that is not allowable by law. Apartment complexes fall in the commercial business structure, so they would not be included either. The two problems that I see with this plan are: making things mandatory, especially without education scares people away and the other concern is it would allow Waste Connection to gain further customers resulting in more local trash haulers going out of business. The company claims that they would not be competing with other trash haulers because people could use their recycling but still use a separate trash service.
They also state they would allow the other trash companies to use their recycling center. However, Waste Connections would be bringing in a company called Recycle Bank which would provide coupons and money for their customers to recycle. If the other trash companies cannot offer a comparable incentive then they would most likely lose customers to Waste Connections. Contact: Alicia Archibald, President, BETTR Recycling, Inc., email@example.com
We Recycle – Owned by Justin and Giana Parker; this a privately owned and operated co-op intending to offer curbside single-stream recycling to all of Pueblo. They will be working with Recycle America which has a transfer station in Colorado Springs and can track everything that you recycle so that you can be confident that it is not simply being transferred to another landfill, third world country or ocean somewhere. Woohoo right?!! This organization had great hopes of being the answer to many of our requests (and still has that potential eventually) but has been thwarted by zoning issues, legalities and resistance from certain “higher ups”. They will be opening a Pueblo West drop off location in July to start off with. At the location members can drop off co-mingled recyclables including paper products, plastics, glass and aluminum. Members pay a small monthly fee to use the facility. As the business grows they hope to expand to other locations, offer curbside pickup and possibly also offer trash collection. www.werecyclecoop.com
The Happy Worm Herders and Gaia Health Institute – Local non-profit organization providing composting, vermicomposting and recycling. The Worm Herders will be able collect grass clippings, leaves and tree waste, agricultural waste, source-separated food and paper waste, coffee grounds, organic cloth, and other organic waste. These ingredients are mixed with biosolids, commonly known as sewer sludge, and inorganic materials, such as sifted street sweeping material and create a wonderful gourmet diet for worms. Once the worms have done their work, the final product, known as castings, will be dried, tested, and sold or distributed through programming. Worm castings, another name for worm manure, are considered to be nature’s superior single-ingredient fertilizer and soil amendment. The castings provide naturally time released nutrients and trace minerals, help soils retain moisture, and enhance root production and root strength thereby helping prevent soil erosion. Contact: 719-320-5080
Pueblo City-County Health Department – Offer occasional, always crowded, one day recycling drop-off events, usually at the State Fair Grounds and offering recycling of things such as: old electronics, paint, tires, hazardous waste, Christmas trees, etc. The Health Department also has 3 recycling drop off sites in Pueblo West and one in Bessemer. These drop off centers have bins for different colored glass, aluminum/tin and newspaper. It is nice to have the locations but is certainly not the best way to get the majority of Pueblo convinced to start recycling, simply not convenient enough and still nowhere to take plastic. Contact: www.pueblohealthdept.org, Recycling Hotline 583-4924
Green Drinks – This is a local chapter of a national organization dedicated to getting folks out of the house of the last Tuesday of every month to talk “Sustainability”. This group is currently meeting at the Cock N’ Bull tavern in Pueblo, at 5:30 – the May meeting is on the 26th and the June meeting is on the 30th. To attend or speak, call Dena Stevens for more information: 719-369-9087.
Heck, I’m just a veterinarian and by no means an expert on politics or starting a city/county wide recycling program but seems like too many cooks in the kitchen to me. It’s uplifting and hopeful to see that so many different people are excited about recycling but can this many recycling committees, organizations and programs actually work at the same time? We need something or someone to unite our efforts, which is what the intention of the Pueblo Recycling Coalition is… but it appears that it may not be enough. As with any change there is always resistance and always a ton of politics and bureaucracy which are very hard for grass roots organizations to break through.
We need someone within the Pueblo government to step up and make everyone work together. Perhaps what we need is a non-bias mayor position which would focus the City Council, County Council, Health Department and all of these smaller grass roots groups to come to one collective solution instead of competing against each other.
Going to all of these meetings and trying to figure out the tangled web of Pueblo Recycling efforts and groups is very exhausting, especially while having a 50 hour + work week. As passionate as I am about this issue I, along with several other frustrated recyclers are near breaking point and on the verge of throwing in the towel or raging against the machine if some forward progress is not made soon. If the Pueblo government is not going to step up then it is going to be up to the citizens of Pueblo to pull together, show respect and pride for our community and get involved. As you can see there are several groups with which you can become involved and help bring change to our community.
Recycling is not about the over marketed “going green” movement, hippies, tree/bunny huggers or over-the-top activists, it is about survival and being able to manage our waste in a way that is healthy for us and generations to follow.
Tiffany Barr is a graduate from Colorado State University and currently a Veterinarian at Mesa Vet Clinic in Pueblo County. She is dedicated to Southern Colorado’s sustainable development and can be found hiking, biking, boarding and climbing throughout the beautiful landscapes
that she seeks to preserve.