It has been so amazing to be a part of a growing green movement and it is not an exaggeration to say that it is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
Recently, Green Girl Recycling was written up in the Boulder County Business Report. The reporter, Beth Edwards, wrote a lovely and concise segment on how Green Girl got started. Reading it back through her eyes has given me a renewed perspective on just how far we’ve come.
Starting in high school I collected aluminum cans from the surrounding farms in upstate New York. Later, in college, I would go into the boys’ dorms and collect beer cans by the garbage bag full to help fund Spring Break. When I moved to Colorado, it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to continue on that path. I lived on Sugarloaf Mountain at the time where there was no regular recycling service. So, for the cost of gas money, I would pack up my Jeep with recyclables from the neighbors and then sneak the recycling into the drop-off at Eco-Cycle under the cover of night. I was worried that they would force me to pay to drop off so much at a time, so when Eric Lombardi caught me at it on a rare daytime drop-off, I just knew it was over. He walked over to me and eyed my huge load of recyclables.
“That’s an awful lot of recycling for one girl,” he said. “How often do you drop this stuff off?”
I gulped hard and explained to him what I was doing. To my surprise, he then offered to pay for the recyclables, and not the other way around.
Before long, I was picking up materials from 120 residences and commercial buildings. I had recruited Matt to work for me full-time by then (I made him give up his painting business to help me grow). He drove a black ‘93 Chevy diesel truck and I drove an old white 78′ Ford (I still have that one – “Ol’ Whitey”!). The year was 2003.
In 2004 we were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to purchase Green Mountain Recycling from Brad Landers who was looking to grow more into a bio-diesel fuel business. We tripled in size adding a large commercial recycling base to our business and it was then that we hired our first ‘real’ employee and also moved into our warehouse located down in Longmont.
Then in 2008 when the economy was just bottoming out, we were fortunate to again be in a good position to form alliances with Waste-Not Recycling (Anita Comer) and acquire over 400 accounts that Waste-Not was looking to redirect as their business plan had shifted.
I think you have to be part crazy and really good at dealing with stressful situations to own and run a recycling company (and remain in business after twelve years!). Thank God we have always charged a little for our convenient front-door recycling services because when the finance industry crashed and Boulder County (Eco-Cycle runs the facility) could no longer pay for any tipping fees for recyclables – we were able to just stay afloat and move a little more into areas like electronics recycling, hard-to-recycle items (such as wood pallets, scrap metals, etc.), and of course data destruction (shredding services of sensitive paper materials).
My father told me when I was little that it didn’t matter what I ‘did’ in life, as long as I liked it: “If you love what you do, the money will come.” I’m so glad he was right—although I believe you don’t get into recycling for money, it will eventually follow (ha ha –after LOTS of hard work). You get into it because it feels so right. I love that when I wake up each day, I am making a difference.
So, at this time of Thanksgiving, I want to thank all of YOU who have helped foster this amazing movement by choosing Green Girl Recycling. Together we are working toward the greater purpose of keeping our world green and healthy for the generations to come.