Before I start on this week’s subject, I want to thank all the Estes Valley lodging properties who offer recycling, whether in-room or in the lobby. We evacuated to a hotel in Greeley who does not – so we are bagging the recycling to deal with at a later date, just like our grandson insisted on – back in 2010.
In order to STOP the progressive warming of the Earth, we must ALL participate. And, because some people will refuse, the rest of us must do an even better job. This means no possibility is too small to consider. While “zero waste” was designed for the disposal system, eliminating the sacrifice of physical resources which still have value: furniture, electronics, food, all the way down the list to paper. However, zero waste can also apply to energy resources. These are undeniably linked.
For example, using petroleum to produce plastic for insignificant uses such as single use packaging reduces the resource available to future generations. Oil lasts in the ground, but once we use it is irreplaceable. According to Energy Education, a Canadian website, the oil available today was created a minimum of 65 million years ago (Mesozoic Era), some more then 252 million years ago (Paleozoic Era). Over the last 100 years or so, our use of petroleum products has exploded and more than half of this buried resource has been expended. With the oil industry investing so much energy into packaging, we humans must find other, more renewable, sources to heat our homes and power our transportation. These will be reliably available for future generations. Locating oil is not the same as production. The reduced level of plankton, the necessary lack of oxygen, and the, now nonexistent, 90-160 degree temperature of the ancient seas mean we do not MAKE petroleum. Reference www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/petroleum for more information.
While much of the above information must be addressed by our national leaders, we, as individuals, can consider solar energy, windmills, or hydro-electric systems … electric (or even hybrid) cars, or walking, bicycling, and taking the bus. With the current mix of fires and blizzard, we have experienced some hiccups in alternative energy. These will need to be resolved as the world progresses. Backup systems? Battery storage? ???
As far as the waste system goes, the optimal approach is not much different from my grandmother’s approach to life. “Waste not, want not!” She never gave up a half-used teabag (carried a small container in her purse).Yes, of course she saved wrapping paper and ribbon for reuse. I remember her keeping furniture, clothing, dishes, and other items until she found someone who wanted them. While recycling did not yet exist, she would repurpose packaging. I still have various kitchen glasses, converted from jelly jars (and, in those days, designed that way as a marketing approach).
Disposal rules to live by (after the fire is out and the Town is safe):
1. Today we are lucky to have Village Thrift Shop and the Elizabeth Guild (including Lizzie’s) to conduct that “reusables” search for us. Cliffhanger will do the same for used books. Ed’s Cantina collects cloth napkins. The Enchanted Florist can use vases. Uncle Benny’s (in Loveland) is a great resource for remodeling supplies of all types. The UPS Store can reuse your castoff shipping supplies.
2. Make use of local and not so local recycling yards. Basic recycling is handled by the Residential Recycling Center (for household use) and the Transfer Station (for businesses), We also have access to recycling venues in Loveland, Fort Collins and throughout Boulder County (Eco-cycle) for items unacceptable here in the Estes Valley.
3. Our Planet Partners accept certain “hard to recycle” items: Contact Bestway Painting for left-over paint products. Clear Intentions, of course, handles glass. County Market takes plastic shopping bags and Safeway adds to that all plastic film from Ziplocs to Saran Wrap. Empty printer / toner cartridges go to Healing Waters. Have an old mattress (Springback Colorado), vehicle (EPNRC) or refrigerator (Estes Park Power and Communication)?
4. When purchasing – look for used and still useful items first: Definitely more ecological, usually less expensive, and often more durable than the more modern but planned obsolescent approach. Check out Village Thrift Shop, Elizabeth Guild, and Cliffhanger. Need cardboard boxes? Estes Park Brewery and Snowy Peaks give them away. And, should you need free art supplies or sticky label material, contact Smith Sign Studio.
5. Most of all, we need public composting options. While we can take such refuse down the mountain to the other collection yards, it means each household must transport and the material does not keep well. The alternative is for each household to create a backyard (or interior) compost station. In bear country, that too has drawbacks.
Agree? Disagree? Great solutions? RRRcyc@signsandwishes.com