Boulder is known for many more things these days than just being the town where Mork and Mindy was filmed. Two of the most recent changes that have affected the city greatly have been the legalization of cannabis, and the new Google campus. The massive influx of people means way more waste for the city to deal with. Fortunately, in 2015, Boulder began implementing a new zero-waste initiative in an effort to keep non-reusable waste to a minimum.
The plan aims to expand recycling and composting to all its residents, businesses, employees, and visitors. The city will be upgrading their recycling and composting facility to accommodate reusable material being brought in.
Boulder also passed a disposable bag fee ordinance, which requires a 10-cent fee for all paper and plastic bags used at the checkout in grocery stores. If you bring your own bag, you get a 10-cent credit. The city has seen a reduction in non-reusable bag use of 68 percent since the ordinance went into effect in 2012.
The city has made dealing with these changes a smooth transition for its residents and businesses. Compost bins were placed right outside our apartments, making it easy to throw away our compostable matter. At Le Peep, the little breakfast restaurant that I work at in town, we’ve downsized our non-recyclable trash bin to a five-gallon bucket and upgraded all bins in the restaurant to composting bins. Our manager also personally takes any hard plastics to the Center for Hard to Recycle Plastics (CHaRM), an awesome facility in town that will recycle anything from TVs and computers, to old mattresses and box springs—how cool is that?
I’ve also noticed that the city is working on educating the youth on how to properly recycle. My daughter is a 3rd grader at an amazing elementary school here in Boulder, and she is always coming home thrilled about learning new ways to recycle and compost. Eco-Cycle, our local recycling and composting business, comes to their school and discusses proper technique with the kids on a regular basis. They have also challenged the kids to bring zero-waste lunches to school and have supplied them with reusable snack containers.
If that isn’t enough, Boulder has made the plan virtually dummy proof by posting signs above bins around the city with pictures showing which items belong in which bin. They also hand out little guides describing where and how the plastics are recycled and how much water and energy we are saving by doing so. The plan seems to be working for Boulder, and we are hoping to lead by example for other parts of the world.
Do you know of any facilities near you where you can take your hard to recycle materials?
What changes can you make on a daily basis in your own life that can reduce the waste you produce?
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