Earth Week: Importance of recycling and composting in Mesa County

Recycling, composting and reducing food waste here in Mesa County are some environmentally friendly alternatives to throwing food scraps and yard waste in the trash.
Importance of Composting and Recycling in Mesa County
Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 12:33 AM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - April 18 through the 22 is the celebration of Earth Week. This annual event helps to shed light on environmental issues and honor our planet. Recycling, composting and reducing food waste here in Mesa County are some environmentally friendly alternatives to throwing food scraps and yard waste in the trash.

The City of Grand Junction does not offer composting pickup. But composting, whether you do it yourself at home or take it to a facility, is taking yard waste or food scraps, and mixing it with some other easy-to-find ingredients to make nutrient-rich soil.

“Although the City of Grand Junction doesn’t currently offer compost pickup, that’s one of city council’s strategic priorities and something we’re looking into in the future,” said City of Grand Junction General Services Manager Jerod Timothy.

“I think it’s really important to compost,” said Mesa County Organics Compost Facility Manager Shay Starr. “Not only does it keep materials out of the landfill and keep the length of life for our landfill longer, but it’s just a big circle of life.”

Currently, the facility just accepts yard waste. But they’re looking into possibly accepting food scraps in the future. It’s free for the public to drop off. But there will be a fee for commercial businesses starting in early May.

The facility is located at 3071 U.S. Highway 50 in Grand Junction. They are open Wednesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. They accept leaves, grass clippings, cull fruit, stall bedding, manure, hay, stray if the twine has been removed, and tree limbs less than six feet in length and less than 24 inches in diameter. Prohibited items include lumber, pallets, ply-wood, burnt or charred wood, sod, salt cedar, tamarisk, roots with dirt, rocks, root balls, any material longer than six feet in length or greater than 24 inches in diameter, and painted, treated, stained or glued wood.

“Composting is a really easy thing to do that any homeowner can do,” said WCCC Instructor of Sustainable Agriculture Bryan Reed. “It doesn’t take up a lot of space, it cycles nutrients that come in the form of food or lawn clippings so we can turn that into a wonderful soil amendment to help with gardening and growing more plants, and its a way of eliminating waste so it doesn’t go to the landfill and fill that up.”

WCCC composts food scraps and yard waste, but is not a public drop-off facility. However, they do offer classes on-at-home composting.

To compost at home, mix one-part green with two to three parts brown. Food waste and lawn clippings and manure or coffee grounds fall under green items. Dried leaves, straw, cardboard and sawdust fall under brown.

As it decomposes, moisture is needed by covering the bucket or pile with a wet towel, blanket, or carpet. And every three days, it is recommended to mix the ingredients.

“As you add moisture and that bacteria starts breaking it down it all starts turning brown and it gets smaller in size,” said Reed. “After about two to three months, you can’t recognize the parent material, it looks granular.”

Reed went on to explain it can take between three and six months to finish. He said by looking at it and seeing it’s granular in texture and by an earthy smell, that means it’s done.

Reed explains he adds all the different food scraps that come out of his kitchen. He keeps a little canister on his counter. He said all fruits and vegetables are accepted, even apple cores, orange and banana peels and potato skins.

“When I brush my dog I put the dog’s hair in,” said Reed. “Fingernail clippings, I take the container right out of the vacuum because most of its dirt that ended up in the house. You can do match sticks, q-tips, cotton balls, anything that’s organic in nature that came from a natural source can be composted.”

Reed explains the process does not smell or attract flies if done correctly. If it does carry an odor or attract bugs, it means too much of the green items were added and it needs more brown to even out.

Reed said even if you don’t have a yard or much space, it can even be done in a bucket under a sink in an apartment. However the smaller the amount, the longer it takes.

As far as recycling, the City of Grand Junction does offer recycling pickup for single-family homes. But they do not yet offer pickup for apartments or multi-family residences. There are drop-off locations in Grand Junction. Curbside Recycling Indefinitely is located at 333 West Ave. Unit G in Grand Junction. The hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. The other location is located at 3071 U.S. Highway 50 in Grand Junction. They are open Wednesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

However, it is important to recycle correctly and not put in contaminated items such as unwashed containers and blister plastic. Every little bit counts!

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