Recycling with Green Girl

by Bridget Johnson



I recently drove across the country on a road trip to the East coast with my kids to spend summer time with family.  It’s amazing to watch the landscape so drastically change and with that geographic transition, I always pay attention to how recycling also changes and is handled in other areas of the Country.  Can I just say as a Country we NEED to improve availability to recycle at gas stations!  (I’m working on a plan to get that going at some point, but until that happens I haul everything with me as I travel).

Our first stop on our road trip was to Ames, Iowa.  We stayed with one of my oldest and dearest girl friends who used to live outside of Nederland years ago and who I recently found out is working for a very cool recycling program all run via Bicycles!  Check out  - an all human-powered program where bikers go out and collect recycling in tubs they haul around on a small trailer pulled by their bicycle.   The advantages to the environment are obvious; no fuel requirements, insurance and fees as well as maintenance to a fleet or pollutants.  The downside is the area they can cover and/or houses they can service per bike and trailer each day. My friend showed us the shed they sort recycling at and park the bikes – she has helped them riding a route and recycling with them for over three years.. I was so impressed!  Great idea for densely populated areas that do not have City or County recycling programs providing service.

Our next stop on our trip was to New York where my parents live in the finger lakes region.  NY is a bottle bill State where if you purchase plastic water bottles or aluminum cans you pay a 5-cent fee per can and are allowed to ‘redeem’ this fee when you return your used bottle at a redemption center.  There are many redemption centers all over the State – my favorite is at any Wegman’s stores, however there are many individually run facilities you can choose to utilize.  When in Canisteo, I had the opportunity to learn all about pre-sorting of bottles and cans by manufacturer when I noticed employees collecting cans and then sorting them by brand.  Coke cans by themselves with other Coke products, Pepsi cans with Pepsi brand bottles and the even same with bottled water sorted out by manufacturer! Impressive.  It turns out that distributors pay more to get their own bottles back.  Wow.  Aluminum cans may be recycled endlessly but plastics bottles only a few times before needing extra polymers added into the process.  Regardless, EVERYONE recycles cans and plastic bottles – they are that huge carrot driving that program along at quite a fast clip.

When we visited PA, there were three areas we visited and all had recycling programs but the one I paid most attention to was in Phoenixville because the poly carts they used for recycling were exactly the same color and size as the trash cans!  The only difference in the program were the lids to each poly cart.  Recycling carts had a green color lid vs. the dark grey all other cans displayed.  I wondered if there was a higher degree of contamination in bins but was unable to gather that information in just the short half of a day I was there.  My gut feel is that they pull trash out of recycling more from that area, but that is just a guess.

In Myrtle Beach where we vacation with all my siblings each year – they have a good program at each residence (same trash and recycling sized cans with separate trucks running weekly for service) however they have a hard time educating tourists about the exact recycling materials one may recycle and also when trucks haul items away.  I could also see that certain beaches really needed extra signage and containers near trash bins to divert on a larger scale.  Seems if you have an option for trash – there should also be a place to do the right thing and recycle.  (I do realize I live in my own green bubble though, at least there is recycling in all the areas I visited).

It’s always great to come back to our amazing State of Colorado and be thankful we live in an area so dedicated to recycling so much more than just a few items.  We have access to hard-to-recycle programs, hazardous waste recycling, electronics, mattress recycling, composting and so much more.  My favorite resource for recycling programs in Boulder County is through Eco-Cycle at or boulder county at  For a list of recycling programs or centers throughout Colorado  We here at Green Girl Recycling also provide an elaborate list of services like single-stream, composting, electronics, paper shredding and so much more at – check us out or call anytime with questions.





Green Girl Recycling is committed to making recycling in Boulder, Larimer and Weld Counties simple, effective and affordable for all types of customers (residential, commercial, institutional, office, restaurant, and government). We work directly with each customer on an individual level to help reduce waste, lower trash costs, and set up an efficient recycling program that everyone can easily participate in and understand. See what we can do for you!


Road Trips and Recycling

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