MAY 20, 2019 BY 

Article adapted from Steamboat Pilot & Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — One hundred-eighty pairs of skis, 440 wine corks, 114 pairs of shoes, 120 gallons of motor oil and 1,875 books: those were among the items collected during last weekend’s recycling drop-off day, organized by the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.

The bi-annual event offers a more convenient way for people to dispose of hard-to-recycle items like batteries, scrap metal and household appliances.

For the first time, last weekend’s event took place at the Steamboat Springs middle school and high school parking lots instead of the Meadows lot at Steamboat Resort.

A steady stream of vehicles passed through both locations. At the high school, where people could only drop off electronics, vehicles were organized into three lines to manage the traffic.

Cameron Hawkins, the Sustainability Council’s waste diversion director who spearheads the drop-off events, said the efficiency was an improvement from previous years.

“In the past, we’ve seen more traffic jams,” she said. “This year, it felt like the cars were flowing much more easily and naturally.”

By the end of the weekend, residents and businesses had dropped off 1.5 semitrailer loads of electronics, according to Anne Mudgett, communications and development director for the Sustainability Council.

At the middle school, groups of volunteers waited under tarp canopies and beside large, metal dumpsters, each accepting particular types of items like scrap metal or lightbulbs.

One man, grey-bearded and with a few buttons undone on his shirt, stood outside a pickup truck where people could bring by their worn-out bikes. By 11 a.m. last Saturday, he had about 15 of them strewn on the pavement and tied to wooden panels on the truck bed.

His name is Lannie Pickering, a Walden resident who collected 35 bicycles during the event.

He will fix up the kids bikes and donate them to Realities for Children, which distributes the bikes to children in Northern Colorado who have been abused, neglected or are at risk.

“It’s a good cause,” he said. “I donate to them all the time.”

The rest he restores and sells second-hand, sometimes traveling to Denver to bring them to special expositions.

“A lot of these older bikes, people don’t really want to work on them,” he said.

A woman approached, careful not to trip over any handlebars or bike tires.

“Do you take golf clubs?” she asked.

He gave a cursory glance at the clubs and the cart bag holding them.

“Sure,” he said, adding them to his growing collection.

What surprised Hawkins was the amount of clothing — 103 bags of it — people brought last weekend, which surpassed numbers at previous events.

The drop-off program has become increasingly popular over the years. Last year was the first time the Sustainability Council offered it twice in one year, instead of a single, annual drop-off in the fall. For many, it is a more convenient option than traveling to various places that can only accept particular items.

“Our community is definitely relying on this,” Hawkins said. “People like having one location where they can drop off their materials all at once.”

She wants to see the program continue to grow. Part of the Sustainability Council’s waste diversion strategic plan aims to develop a transfer station in Routt County, which would offer a more permanent drop-off service for hard-to-recycle items.

The plan, recently adopted by the Routt County Board of Commissioners and the Steamboat Springs City Council, includes other goals to reduce waste and offer composting services in the area.

With the success of the drop-off events, Hawkins hopes adding similar services will keep more items out of the landfill and offer them a chance to be used again — and again.

A digital version of the strategic plan is available online.

To reach Derek Maiolo, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @derek_maiolo.