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NON-PROFIT HAPPENINGS - September 2003

Recycling is Plain and Simply the Right Thing To Do
By Carrie Switzer

It’s easier to recycle in Moab than one might think, and almost unconscionable, because of this ease, not to do so. That’s the impression an hour with the very upbeat Sara Melnicoff left me. An avid recycler from California who had all but given up on the practice in Moab, only to find out I have no good reason for doing so, I am reformed.

Canyonlands Recycling Center is open six days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Sunday.) Two employees run a clean and welcoming operation with easy to access bins for newspaper, colored paper, white paper, aluminum, tin, cardboard and every color glass. Only one type of plastic is accepted, the #1 PETE, or soda plastics, which, ironically, is the lame excuse I used for not recycling everything else. There’s no place for plastic milk containers here.

“We hope to start accepting plastic milk containers in the near future,” Sara explains.

The nature of the recycling market, and a fact of life that hits Canyonlands recycling especially hard, is the fluctuating market of recyclables. Milk carton and thick plastics are subsidized in most communities by the volume of the more profitable #1 plastics, aluminum, and currently, cardboard. Sara estimates that less than 3 percent of this area’s waste stream is recycled, and as those numbers rise, the Center’s ability to take more items increases.

Places where you can recycle in
Grand County

Provided by the Grand County Clean Up Task Force

  • WabiSabi: Used clothes, books, jewelry, sporting equipment, hardware, housewares & furniture.
  • Memory Lane Thrift Store: See list above.
  • Big O tires and Chip’s Grand Tire: Used tires.
  • Lube-It Express: Motor oil.
  • Radio Shack: Rechargeable batteries.
  • City Market: Paper and plastic bags.
  • Canyonlands Copy Center & Coldwell Banker: Shipping peanuts.
  • Bob’ Sanitation Transfer Station: All metals and appliances.

Sara’s main role as a board member of Canyonlands Recycling is public education and outreach. She is passionate about what she does and her passion is contagious. She points to a row of good, sturdy, plastic barrels available at no cost to area businesses willing to recycle. She picks up recyclable material for five families every week at no cost. She coordinates a number of programs and inspires countless more. Sara is not one of the paid employees; she does this as a labor of love to keep something going she sees as vital to the health of the community and its residents.

“The person who got this started and keeps it going is Penny Jones,” Sara notes. “She is the reason we have recycling in Moab.”

Penny, who is still an active board member but prefers to stay out of the media ring, performs all of the Center’s administrative work, even though she holds down a very demanding full time job. Sara said a hard working board of only four members operates Canyonlands Recycling. She’d like to invite others to participate.
Originally, Canyonlands Recycling was owned by Grand County. Now the non-profit organization leases a building from the county and receives $3,000 a year from the City of Moab to help cover operational costs. The annual budget is approximately $36,000 a year, and proceeds from recycling cover about 80 percent of the cost. The rest is made up through donations.

Moab residents help contribute to covering recycling costs in a variety of ways. A donation box is located at the drop-off center, percentages of purchases at Moonflower Market and WabiSabi Thrift Store can be earmarked for the Recycling Center, and City water customers can check a box on their utility bill to contribute $3 a month to the center.
“Some businesses are already recycling,” Sara notes, “and we’d like to get more doing it. Bob’s Sanitation will provide a designated dumpster to businesses for cardboard only, which makes it very convenient for those businesses that unload lots of boxes every week.”

The same is true for trailer parks and apartment complexes. Although perhaps not taken seriously, the Powerhouse Road community has a very effective recycling drop off at the end of the road that a volunteer trailers to the Center a couple of times a month. Sara said she is willing to help others create their own recycling mini centers at business parks and housing complexes around town.

Sara also hopes Grand County Schools will get on the recycling bandwagon this year, and she is actively enlisting the help of parents to do so. Advocating for the Recycling Center is another way the general public can help, but first Sara hopes to get the word out that recycling in Moab is a pleasant experience.

Yet another venue for immense returns on glass and aluminum in particular is the Moab tourist crowd, which would require a certain amount of effort on the part of the community to make it easier for visitors to keep it clean and separate their recyclables from other garbage. Several people in the community bring in large hauls, Sara said, after a holiday weekend just by picking out a specific area to clean up. Sara herself had a front yard full of separated garbage on an average weekend; all of it collected from the streets and trails surrounding one Moab neighborhood.

While advocating for clean garbage may not sound like a lot of fun, Sara, and other staff members at the Recycling Center, almost glow with enthusiasm and positive energy. Sara hopes this will become evident when Moonflower Market exhibits a show titled “The Art of Recycling,” which will open October 11.

“It’s a ‘no waste’ art show,” she says, “and it ought to be a lot of fun.”

Meanwhile, Canyonlands Recycling recently awarded the Grand County Council for its partnership is helping the recycling center get through some tough years of no air conditioning, scarce equipment and a devastating fire. The center is in good shape this year, in comparison, and is set to embark on advances that will make recycling a friendly household word and a growing way of life in Moab.

For more information on how to recycle in Moab, or how to get involved as a volunteer, call 259-8640 or 259-4454. In addition, the Grand County Clean Up Task Force has published a list of places to recycle items not accepted at the Recycling Center. For information call Mary Hofine at 259-1343.

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