Innovative recycling/composting program earns income for Poudre Canyon Group
By John Gascoyne
Poudre Canyon Group Executive Committee
You and your Sierra Club group would like to further the environmental
mission of the organization. However, for many reasons, lack of
sufficient funding is a huge roadblock in meeting your goals.
PCG Executive Committee member John Gascoyne.
You might consider creating a composting/recycling program patterned
after the one that my Poudre Canyon Group (PCG) has been successfully
engaged in for the past two years. Like our group, your group could get
the environmental message out while bringing money in.
a little background before I share the nuts and the bolts of our
program. In the spring of 2011, I ran into my former dentist, Ron Baker,
and his business colleague, Lisa Sinclair. We exchange pleasantries,
and then I asked them what was new. Wow, did I get an earful.
long-distance runners, Lisa and Ron are also committed
environmentalists. Last year they formed a company called Green Events,
which is dedicated to keeping footraces as clean and green as possible.
In the process they educate the public on the value of recycling and
composting. My friends asked me if PCG would be interested in
my answer was a conditional “yes.” However, what began as a casual
conversation soon morphed into a serious business discussion, and I
found myself sold on the idea. I learned there are three separate but
interdependent components to the program, as follows:
1. Green Events.
Ron and Lisa, as part of the local running community, know the various
promoters of foot races in their area. Their Green Events objective is
to enter into contracts with promoters to have the races as
environmentally sensitive as possible. This means that staff at the
starting line, along the route, and at the finish line practice the fine
arts of recycling and composting, while educating participants and
spectators on the desirability of both.
2. Gallegos Sanitation, Inc.
(GSI) This essential program player is a savvy and environmentally
aware trash company. A locally owned and operated family business, GSI
has pioneered efforts in Northern Colorado to promote both composting
and recycling. The company’s ambition is to reduce, as much as possible,
non-recyclable and non-compostable materials that are bound for rapidly
filling local landfills.
3. The Grunts.
These are the folks that turn the ambitions of Green Events and GSI
into reality, including PCG volunteers. Maybe “grunts” is not the best
word; more appropriately we are “freelance garbage sorters.” We are the
people who don't mind reaching into a compost bin and pulling out
something that should have been recycled─a sometimes yucky experience.
A typical event
typical event begins when we PCG volunteers arrive at the starting site
an hour before the race. When the first runners arrive; we are already
there, sporting our custom T-shirts that, on the front, identify us as
members of PCG and, on the back, state that we are Zero-Waste
Footrace participants learn a new way to recycle and compost at a local race.
trash company, GSI, will have already delivered a pre-determined number
of Zero-Waste stations─fancy sorting bins containing holes that direct
discarded matter into the proper containers for composting, recycling,
or landfill. We keep fairly close to the stations to ensure that folks
drop their discards in the right container (some well-meaning people
still need a bit of direction).
we have to make split-second decisions, such as where a half-eaten taco
wrapped in aluminum foil should be deposited. We decided to try to
separate the food from the foil and place each separately into the
appropriate composting or recycling container. This can be a bit trying
and time consuming when people are lined up, waiting to do the right
we hear the bang of the starting gun, the runners take off and things
quiet down considerably. Now we can do some catch-up sorting and
carefully police the starting area. For some races, PCG volunteers on
bikes trail the slowest runners and police the entire race course. More
PCG volunteers are waiting at the finish line by their Zero-Waste
stations. Here their work may be even more demanding in that many
spectators, in addition to the runners, congregate.
that day, GSI collects and distributes the three categories of
discards. Later on, Green Events sends a check to our PCG treasurer. The
amount of the check has been pre-determined through friendly
negotiations between PCG and Green Events.
Zero-Waste and your group
can this model work for your group? Perhaps not as precisely as it does
for us, but our experience should provide a good starting point for
you. Your first objective would be to find a trash company that is
capable of doing the collecting and sorting. If they can’t provide fancy
Zero-Waste stations, carefully marked collection bins will do just
fine. You should work closely with the company you choose, especially
at first, to ensure that collected matter will, in fact, be properly
measured and disposed of.
second job will be to look for your area’s equivalent of Green Events.
As an alternative a small committee from your group should be able to
make the necessary contacts and deal directly with race promoters,
creating written contracts with them. This program should be applicable
not only to foot-running events but also to other sporting events such
as bike races. The payoff for your group can be significant.
PCG, this has been a great group action. We’ve diverted large amounts
of material away from landfills, keeping them in the usable streams of
composting and recycling. We’ve done a great deal of education along the
way, not only for ourselves but for the general public as well.
only two years, we have gained much public appreciation, contributed
significantly to environmental awareness, and earned more income than we
probably would ever have from other sources. As we approach the end of
our second season of this activity, we look forward to next year.
more information, or to discuss your group’s potential for this type
activism, please contact John Gascoyne (970-221-4316).
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