It’s that time of year when locals transition from their winter identities to their summer identities. A time when garages and attics are cleaned out, and the clothes, attitudes and gear change.
Today and tomorrow at Carhenge parking lot (700 West Pacific Ave.), EcoAction Partners, the Telluride Mountain Club (TMtC), San Miguel County and the Town of Telluride are holding a collaborative “Spring Cleaning” event. Dump stations for electronic waste recycling, household waste and household hazardous waste material will be set up in Carhenge today (Friday) and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Outside of waste material, this weekend is the first year TMtC will host a donation station for used outdoor equipment still in good condition.
“We’re excited to take everything that is in good working condition and has life left in it,” TMtC Director Heidi Lauterbach said.
Additional waste locations have been planned for Mountain Village today at the Gondola Parking Garage Bridge from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and in Norwood tomorrow at the San Miguel County Fairgrounds.
Cathy Knight, town administrative analyst, explained the event began years ago as a way for locals to get rid of hard to dispose of items. The closest landfill and dumps near Telluride are in Montrose and Naturita.
“They are not convenient or accessible for a lot of people, especially if you have furniture and bigger stuff that you want to get rid of like tires, or something that is hard to dispose of like scrap metal and things of that nature,” Knight said.
The town charges a small fee for items like refrigerators and freezers that contain freon and a compound used for heat transfer to keep appliances. When exposed, the liquid is harmful to the environment and dangerous for people to handle.
Knight explained the fee covers the cost the appliance location in Montrose charges when they remove the toxic liquid.
Safely recycling electronics is also a considerable portion of the weekend’s event, organized by EcoAction Partners. Tyler Simmons, EcoAction’s zero waste coordinator, said the electronics portion was added to the event five years ago due to an increase in demand.
“Electronics recyclers make the majority of their profits by refurbishing items. They can sell refurbished items for more money than if they were to fractionate those items and sell scrap components. Other items that we accept at the Spring Clean Up that may be recycled/reused include scrap metal, usable household items like bikes and furniture, etc.,” Simmons said.
Simmons explained that electronics and other hazardous waste could release dangerous and harmful pollutants when dumped in a landfill. Electronics also contain rare metals and earth elements, reducing the demand for mining those materials. The fees associated with specific items cover the costs of unwanted material.
“Recycling unwanted electronics helps support small businesses, boosts local and domestic economies, and creates more demand for their services in the future,” Simmons added.
Then, instead of overcrowding the town’s precious Free Box on Pine Street, bring your used gear to TMtC’s station at Carhenge.
Becky Boehm, the official Free Box crew leader, said while skis are welcome in the Freebox in small quantities, the best place to drop them off this weekend is at Carhenge.
“Skis are difficult because they don’t fit inside the Free Box. My whole goal is to keep stuff off the sidewalk – once items get left outside the box, other people start leaving items outside,” Boehm said.
She emphasized that the Free Box should not be a drop-off location for unwearable, ripped and stained clothes or broken items that belong in a dumpster or in a recycling bin.
Outdoor gear can be expensive, and in a mountain town where the outdoors is a huge part of the community, making the activities accessible to all members is part of TMtC’s mission. The club will take all outdoor gear for any season like bikes, skis, helmets, hiking backpacks and shoes. Lauterbach highlighted the station accepts both kid and adult gear.
Items donated at Carhenge this weekend will be redistributed throughout the community on June 5 at Town Park. All remaining items will be distributed on June 6, possibly at Carhenge, but Lauterbach said a set plan is still in the works.
For updates, follow Telluride Mountain Club on Instagram or visit telluridemountainclub.org. Then, visit ecoactionpartners.org for a complete list of times and locations of spring clean-up events throughout the region, as well as an electronics collection list and associated costs for the electronics waste station.