What can I do with THAT? – Estes Park


June generally means a swelling population for the Estes Valley. Both millions of visitors and part-time residents arrive to
spend time in the green (as in trees and flowers) community, hiking, fishing, boating or just having coffee on the deck.
The air in Estes is still clearer than most of the USA; our temperature is still cooler than the heat across the Front Range;
the drought is not as punishing here as Arizona’s lack of water; and we do not face insistent and constant wildfires.
(Evacuation every nine years would seem like a vacation to some Californians!)

Still, to preserve that green, we must all be mindful of the changing conditions of life on Earth. Even though we are
better off than many South American cities and farms, our own climate is warmer; mosquitos more prevalent;
grasshoppers now resident in most Estes gardens. As the temperature rises, the too well-insulated pica are finding
summer harder and harder to survive – even here. It is necessary for Estes residents and visitors to pay attention to fire
codes and ecological recommendations that slow that progression.

Air pollution knows no bounds, but floats everywhere. Even in Estes, we are experiencing days when the air is not as
clear as we would like. Today, as I write this, we have an Air Quality Index of “8” in Estes Park. My windows are open as
we air out the house, preceding tomorrow’s predicted AQI level of “20”. One way to support not only the pica, but our
own future, is to, whenever possible, redirect all forms of “waste” away from the landfill. Abusing our landfills leads to
investing more land in storing “trash”, even when much of that discarded material could be recovered and recycled to
provide a continuing resource.

The first rule of thumb in preventing waste from contributing to greenhouse gases (ghg): Keeping organics OUT of the
trashcan will accomplish three things: One: We eliminate 30% of what is filling our landfill – so the life of the landfill will be
significantly longer. Two: The household trash without organic material does not smell. This makes fixing breakfast more
pleasant. Three: Because there is no odor, instead of weekly, trash runs can be done once a month, saving about $540 per year ($15 per trip). What could YOU do with that savings?

Our rapidly changing information technology results in computers and other electronics reaching the point of replacement faster that the expiration of the many parts that comprise the equipment. The manufacture of computers, like any other product requires processes that increase greenhouse gases, like the generation of heat in the building. Computers use metals which must be mined, but can be recycled innumerous times. They require plastic, made from petroleum. Perhaps unsure of what to do with them, people were discarding computers into the landfill trash. Sometimes they were adding them to the recycling bucket, but, because they are not all alike, these items cannot be single streamed.

So, under Governor John Hickenlooper, Colorado passed a law forbidding electronics in the landfill OR in the recycling
bucket. They created a class of certified (trained) electronic recyclers who would dismantle and sort the electronic ingredients for recycle and reuse. This kept them out of the landfill, recycled the materials, and saved the resources that
would be needed to manufacture replacements from scratch. This is still true today. In Colorado, electronic equipment
may not be thrown “out” in recycling or landfill trash. Disposal must be handled by a Certified Electronic Recycler. Of
course, the recycler must charge a fee to pay the employees who do the dismantling.

Today, people use electronics in all facets of life: computers, printers, scanners, routers, phones, televisions, remotes, etc. There are several Certified Electronic Recyclers down Highway 34. Just type “Certified Electronic Recycler” into your browser along with the City or County you prefer. However, bear in mind, that it costs to drive down-valley. This year’s
IRS calculation is 65 cents per mile including all the costs of operating and repairing the vehicle plus eventual replacement.

On the other highway, (US36) Eco-cycle is qualified also. They accept “anything with a cord or a battery”. If it is electronic there are fees. If they consider it scrap metal, it is free – except the $3 entry fee. If it is a plastic electric appliance, they also accept that.

OR – if you prefer to do it the easy way and you have some space where you can store your discards for the summer, the
League of Women Voters, Community Recycling Committee (CRC), along with the Town of Estes Park, Eco-cycle, and the Estes Park Rotary Club, are hosting Estes Recycles Day on August 12. Eco-cycle will be here to accept electronics, and (thanks to grants from The Village Thrift Shop, the Estes Valley Rotary Club and the Premiere Member Credit Union) the electronic fees will be significantly reduced this year, so if you have been “stocking up” this is a great year to clean out
the closet. We will also be recycling scrap metal, microwaves, CFL lightbulbs, smoke detectors, plus bicycle tires and
tubes. And, of course, the EP (noon) Rotary will be offering paper shredding. Come and join the fun – and get rid of some
hard-to-recycle material while you are there.

Agree? Disagree? Comments?

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