*Americans recycle more plastic than ever these days, but there are still plenty of items that are not accepted by municipalities, including many hard plastic items like ski boots.
—From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine
Dear EarthTalk: Where do I recycle old ski boots (hard plastic)? My recycling center does not take hard plastic. —Beth Fitzpatrick, Stamford, CT
Americans recycle more plastic than ever these days, but there are still plenty of items that are not accepted by municipalities, including many hard plastic items like ski boots.
If such items are still usable, consider donating them to a local Goodwill or Salvation Army store, which can sell them and put the money earned toward housing and feeding those less fortunate. Another option would be to sell or give them to a second-hand sporting goods store, which might even give you trade-in credit toward an upgrade. If you can’t find somewhere local, you can ship them to Colorado-based Boulder Ski Deals. The company accepts ski boots (along with skis, bindings, poles, and snowboards) for recycling, donating usable equipment to charitable programs and shredding the rest for re-use in making new products.
The fact that it is so difficult to recycle hard plastic items is a growing issue as we all try to minimize our impact on the environment. Everyone involved with the lifecycle of a given item—from manufacturer to retailer to consumer—can share the blame when something ends up taking up precious space in a landfill instead of being recycled in one way or another. Concerned consumers should make sure that a given item is easy to recycle when its usefulness runs its course before buying it in the first place. It also can’t hurt to let a manufacturer know that you didn’t purchase a given product because it didn’t meet your recyclability standards. Manufacturers want to make products that people will buy and such feedback can go a long way toward getting them to rethink their practices.
Likewise, municipalities need to hear from residents if there is a need to expand the types of items accepted for recycling. If enough people are willing to recycle a certain type of item, it may be worthwhile for the municipality to expand capacity and move into new markets.
The good news is that there are plenty of firms that are happy to take back otherwise difficult-to-recycle stuff. The non-profit Earth911 offers up a free searchable online database of different types of recyclers keyed to the user’s zip code anywhere across the United States. If no local provider comes up, the site will refer users to a place that accepts shipped items. Another good resource is the consulting firm Eco-Officiency’s concise yet comprehensive online list of companies around the country that accept different types of hard plastic and other hard-to-recycle items.
Consumers should keep in mind that they may have to pay for the privilege of recycling certain items, as well as shipping costs. If you can swing it, think of it as a tax for buying something less friendly to the environment. Maybe next time you’ll look for one made out of easier-to-recycle materials.
For more information, contact: Boulder Ski Deals at boulderskideals.com; Earth911 at earth911.org; Eco-Officiency’s Recycling and Donation Resources at www.eco-officiency.com/resources_recycling.html.
Send your environmental questions to: EarthTalk®, PO Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; email@example.com. Read past columns at www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/archives.php. EarthTalk® is now a book! Details and order information at www.emagazine.com/earthtalkbook.
Placitas Recycling Center reduced landfill use in 2009 by more than 127 tons
The Placitas Recycling Association (PRA) reported recycling 127.13 tons of material in 2009, including over eighty-three tons of paper, thirty-three tons of cardboard, eight tons of plastic, and two and a half tons of aluminum. This is material that did not end up in the Sandoval County landfill, prolonging the life of the existing landfill and postponing the need to develop new landfills. Recycling also saves energy and raw materials.
Credit for this accomplishment goes to the Placitas community for its environmental conscientiousness and to the volunteers who generously donate their time working at the center on Saturday mornings, as well as other times to help manage the recycled materials. The PRA and its volunteers are especially grateful to residents who take time to separate their materials before coming to the center and bring the materials in suitable form for recycling.
Now, users of the Placitas Recycling Center can contribute in a new way. The PRA has established an account with GoodSearch.com, a new Internet search engine that makes donation to charities on behalf of people who use their service. A donation is made each time someone uses the GoodSearch service or makes GoodSearch his or her home page. In addition, many vendors will donate a percentage of their proceeds from online purchases made through GoodSearch. Using GoodSearch is simple: to participate, go to GoodSearch.com and type “Placitas Recycling Center” in the box under “Who do you GoodSearch for?” Then click the “Verify” button and begin your search. Proceeds will be used to continue improving the recycling center and its services.
Last year was a big year for the Placitas Recycling Center. A generous state grant through Sandoval County enabled the PRA to acquire a new vehicle and trailers, and improvements were made at the yard to make recycling safer and more efficient for both volunteers and users. Challenges the PRA continues to face include:
• Separated materials. PRA’s vendors require the materials brought to them be source-separated and free of contaminants. This includes separating No. 1 and No. 2 plastics, as well as keeping the solid color No.2s separate from the translucent, milky-white containers, and removing all bottle tops. In particular, white and pastel office paper (including shredded office paper) needs to be free of contaminants such as colored and lower quality paper in order to bring higher prices than mixed paper.
• Clean materials. The PRA requests that plastic containers brought to the center be rinsed out and cardboard and paper be free of food residue. Food and drink residue attracts pests, and other liquids, like bleach, can spill on volunteers and damage clothing or cause injury.
• Flattened cardboard. Cardboard represents the largest volume of material brought to the center each week. Two volunteers are assigned to the cardboard trailer every Saturday to ensure that it is stacked as efficiently as possible in order to maximize the limited storage capacity. Their job is made much easier when users bring their cardboard already broken down and flattened.
In other news, the PRA welcomed new members to its board of directors and elected new officers at its quarterly meeting in January. Christine DiGregory replaces John Richardson as president, and Chris Anderson has assumed the duties of vice president. Julie Denison and Robin Brandin were reelected to serve as treasurer and secretary, respectively. John Richardson was recognized for his dedication to the PRA and significant contributions as President over the last four years, including obtaining a major grant, expanding the yard, updating the equipment, and improving the operation’s efficiency.
The all-volunteer Placitas Recycling Center is located on Highway 165 one-half mile east of I-25. It is open Saturday mornings between 8:00 and 11:00 a.m., except on posted holidays. The center recycles cardboard, office paper, newspaper and mixed paper, aluminum, No. 1 (PETE) and No. 2 (HDPE) plastics, bagged polystyrene peanuts, and inkjet printer cartridges. At this time, it does not accept glass or non-aluminum metals. More information about the center and the materials it accepts can be found at placitasrecycling.com.
The PRA needs more volunteers to continue providing this valuable service to the Placitas community. Volunteers are needed both to work during Saturday operating hours and to assist with recycling activities during the week. Volunteers may work as little as two three-hour shifts a year. Interested persons can sign up at the recycling center on Saturday mornings or call Chris Anderson at 554-1951.
New Mexico fishing report
This fishing report, provided by Department of Game and Fish area offices in Albuquerque, Raton, Roswell and Las Cruces, has been generated from the best information available from officers and anglers. Conditions may vary as stream, lake and weather conditions alter fish and angler activities.
ABIQUIU LAKE: 35 percent of the lake is iced over making it difficult to fish. A person could fish from the shore in shallow areas, but still no reports from anglers
ALBUQUERQUE DRAINS: Trout fishing in the Albuquerque, Corrales, Belen and Bernalillo continues to be good using power bait, fireballs, and panther martins. There hasn’t been much of a change since last week.
JACKSON LAKE: Closed to fishing due to unsafe ice conditions.
BLUEWATER LAKE: Closed until spring of 2010.The main area of the park is scheduled to open March 1.
CHAMA RIVER: Fishing is fair below El Vado Lake and Abiquiu Lake, anglers reporting that big nymphs with flash and sparkle along with streamers below El Vado and baetis nymphs, midges and crane fly larvae below Abiquiu Lake. No reports from anglers this week near the village of Chama.
COCHITI LAKE: Closed to fishing due to unsafe ice conditions.
EL VADO LAKE: The lake is iced over and ice fishing is allowed. Park Rangers ask that you stop by the ranger station and check in prior to ice fishing. No reports this week.
NAVAJO LAKE: Fishing is slow at this time with people fishing from the banks near the main marina with little luck.
SAN JUAN RIVER: Fishing is good on the upper part of the stream with the exception of some floating moss. Fish are being caught on Johnny Flashes, Flashback Pheasant Tails, Brown or Orange San Juan Worms, Amazon Ants, No. 20-22 Parachute Adams and midge patterns with red in them. Yellow and rainbow powerbait have been doing the trick below the quality waters.
FENTON LAKE: The lake has been closed to fishing and will re-open in the spring of 2010.
CIMARRON RIVER: Frozen.
CHARETTE LAKES: Closed until March 1, 2010.
CLAYTON LAKE: Closed until March 1, 2010.
CONCHAS LAKE: Very slow.
EAGLE NEST LAKE: Fishing is fair for trout using jigs, power bait, and roe sacks. Fishing is good for perch using worms. Ice thickness is 20". Fishing pressure is light due to recent snows.
LAKE MALOYA/ LAKE ALICE: Lake Alice is closed due to thin ice. Ice fishing is fair to good at Lake Maloya using jigs with salmon eggs, and dough bait, at about 12'-15' of water. Ice thickness at Maloya is 16".
McALLISTER LAKE: Closed indefinitely.
MONASTERY LAKE: Closed to ice fishing.
PECOS RIVER: The upper Pecos is iced over in most places. The only fishable stretch is all the way down at Villanueva State Park and reports are slow to poor.
RED RIVER: Fair to good near the warm water springs below the hatchery, but slow on the rest of the upper Red River. Very few anglers but they report good fishing near the hatchery.
RIO GRANDE: No report
SHUREE PONDS: Closed until July 1, 2010.
SPRINGER LAKE: Closed to ice fishing.
STORRIE LAKE: Closed due to thin ice.
UTE LAKE: Fishing is slow due to snowy weather, but a few walleye have been caught on jerk bait at about 30'.
WINTER TROUT WATERS (Carlsbad Municipal, Bataan, Higby Hole, lower Pecos River, Lake Van, Green Acres, Oasis, Roswell Kids Pond, Green Meadows, Chaparral, Jal, Bottomless Lakes, Carrizozo Pond): Fishing has been good on Power Bait and salmon eggs.
GRINDSTONE LAKE: Trout fishing has been good on Power Bait and salmon eggs.
BONITO LAKE: Closed until April 1.
PECOS RIVER BELOW BRANTLEY LAKE: Anglers have been catching a few catfish on worms, chicken liver and shrimp.
CORONA POND: Closed due to ice.
SANTA ROSA AND SUMNER LAKES: Fishing has been slow due to cold weather. Anglers will have best results deep jigging on outside main channel bends for walleye at Santa Rosa and near the spillway at Sumner. Use silver jigging spoons or minnow tipped jig heads.
BEAR CANYON: Fishing has been fair for trout using powerbait, salmon eggs and worms.
BILL EVANS LAKE: Fishing has been fair for trout using powerbait, salmon eggs and worms.
BURN LAKE: Fishing has been good for trout using powerbait and salmon eggs.
CABALLO: Fishing has been slow for all species. Walleye are expected to start spawning in March and April making fishing at night in shallow water and in the river more productive.
ELEPHANT BUTTE: Fishing has been slow for all species.
ESCONDIDA LAKE: Fishing has been good for trout using powerbait, salmon eggs and corn.
GILA FORKS: Slow for all species.
GLENWOOD POND: Fishing has been slow for trout using powerbait and salmon eggs.
LAKE ROBERTS: Fishing has been fair for trout using powerbait, salmon eggs and worms.
QUEMADO LAKE: Frozen.
SNOW LAKE: Frozen.
YOUNG POND (kids pond): Fishing has been good for trout using powerbait and salmon eggs.
It’s no fun being a criminal
—Mark Squillace, Writers on the Range
I have a confession to make. I am a trespasser. A serial, criminal trespasser. I have floated a boat on more than one Colorado river or stream that passed through more than one stretch of private land and in doing so, I have touched the streambed, hit some rocks and occasionally bumped into the bank.
Under Colorado law, that makes me a criminal. In virtually every other state in the country, and under the laws of most of the developed world since at least the time of the Roman Empire, my acts would be legal. But not in Colorado. Under a 1979 decision from the state’s Supreme Court, I am criminally liable for trespass.
The problem with Colorado law has come to a head on the Western Slope’s Taylor River, where a wealthy private landowner has decided to block a commercial rafting company’s access. Due to a low bridge constructed by the prior landowner, the rafting company’s clients are forced to get out of their raft and portage around it. They’d rather not. They’d rather stay on the water and float through.
But during certain times of the year, the water is too high to pass safely under the bridge. So, they get out and walk around it. Now a new landowner claims a property right to deny these people the right to get around the obstacle that his predecessor created. Moreover, this property owner believes that he can keep them off “his” section of the river. And he has threatened to sue if boaters continue to raft through his property.
Rep. Kathleen Curry has a legislative fix for this problem and deserves credit for tackling an issue that should have been addressed long ago. Unfortunately, her solution is narrowly tailored to protect only commercial rafters, and then only on rivers where commercial companies currently operate. So the effect of her legislation -- which passed the House Feb. 12 — is to throw the rest of us private boaters and fisherman under the bus.
To their credit, the commercial rafters have argued for broader legislation that would protect the public’s right of access. There’s precedent: The Colorado Constitution provides that “the water of every natural stream … is …the property of the public…dedicated to the use of the people….” A plain reading of this language suggests a broad public right of access to Colorado’s rivers and streams.
Indeed, broad public access to waterways is the norm throughout the United States. Nonetheless, the Colorado Supreme Court has been reluctant to find public access rights without some direction from the Legislature. Until now, the Legislature has shown little interest in taking the bait. Curry’s House Bill 1188 changes that, but far from expanding public rights, it would likely narrow them.
If, like me, you find yourself outside the class of people protected by the proposed legislation, it will set you up as a target. You will be a target for all of those frustrated landowners who will no longer be able to stop commercial rafters from floating through their property. But landowners will understand that private boaters and fishers have been relegated to second-class, indeed to criminal status.
If the Colorado Constitution, which dedicates the waters of all natural streams to public use, protects the public’s right of access, as I believe it does, then surely it protects those rights for all water users, not merely those who can afford to pay a commercial rafting company. Those who support the current proposal, which now goes to the senate, argue that this is just a first step, and the law will eventually be expanded. Maybe so. But if this legislation becomes law in its current form, the commercial rafting community will hold a monopoly on the lawful recreational use of our rivers, and it is hard to see how it will be in their economic interest to promote access rights for the rest of us.
It is long past time for the Colorado Legislature to give all Colorado residents the rights that are guaranteed under our Constitution and enjoyed by the residents of virtually every other state in this country. As for me, I’m tired of being a criminal; we need to provide stream access for everybody.
Mark Squillace is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News (hcn.org). He is a professor of law and the director of the Natural Resources Law Center at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder. The views expressed here are his own.