We have found that waste reduction and recycling has been the fastest and easiest way to minimize our impact on the environment. Taking steps to ensure that the majority of the waste product in our shops, warehouses and on our tours makes it into a recycling program has been a fun and educational process.
We have done the following to improve our recycling system:
- One of our biggest challenges has been to initiate a program for recycling the rubber that comes through the bike shops. After some research it became clear that we need a program at the national level to take care of this reusable product. Tour director Jared Fisher has been working with Specialized and a national tire company to create a program for bike shops across the country. In the future, shop owners will be able to order a special container from Las Vegas for their rubber waste. In the meantime, contact your local tire dealership. Often, they will take your rubber for free.
- At each of our shops we have installed recycling bins for paper, aluminum, plastic, glass, cardboard and rubber. Neither Moab nor Las Vegas offers a curbside pick-up for recycling (yet), but if trash is separated initially it makes it easier to deliver.
- We buy as much recycled product as possible for our offices and tours.
- We have developed specific recycling containers for use on our multi-day tours, and have researched recycling programs in each of our tour locations.
- We also encourage our employees to be conscientious about their waste and to stop buying products that come with excessive packaging. Additionally, when we shop for a trip, our guides never use bags from the store. Instead, everything from the cart goes straight into the coolers and crates.
- Our remaining non-recyclable waste is offset with green tags for the purchase of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
Some encouraging facts about recycling*:
In 1999, recycling and composting activities prevented about 64 million tons of material from ending up in landfills and incinerators. Today, this country recycles 32 percent of its waste, a rate that has almost doubled during the past 15 years.
While recycling has grown in general, recycling of specific materials has grown even more drastically: 50 percent of all paper, 34 percent of all plastic soft drink bottles, 45 percent of all aluminum beer and soft drink cans, 63 percent of all steel packaging, and 67 percent of all major appliances are now recycled.
Twenty years ago, only one curbside recycling program existed in the United States, which collected several materials at the curb. By 2005, almost 9,000 curbside programs had sprouted up across the nation. As of 2005, about 500 materials recovery facilities had been established to process the collected materials.
Sources: *Environmental Protection Agency