By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – The Big Sky Recycling Center announced in June a new “Adopt a Month” initiative to help keep the center clean.
Following a spring-cleaning effort on May 14, Kali Quick, director of the recycling center, said she talked with a few volunteers, which sparked the idea to emulate the national Adopt-a-Highway program and ask local businesses and individuals to pitch in and help keep the center clean.
The center is looking for volunteers to share the responsibility of clearing the center of trash and other debris that inevitably collects there.
“The expectation is that they will clean and pick up around the first of their month and around the fifteenth of their month,” Quick said. “It would be two site visits to the recycling center per month.”
She added that it would likely be about an hour of work for each site visit.
According to Quick, four organizations have already adopted a month at the center. Right now, the American Legion, the Big Sky Sustainability Network Organization, Republic Services and Haas Builders have all committed to keeping the center clean.
“It’s not an overwhelming commitment,” Quick said. “It’s something to be proud of and get your name recognized and on our list and keep everything moving forward positively for the recycling center.”
Peter Harned, owner of Full Circle Recycling, part of We Recycle Montana, said that the cleanliness of the site is important. When he spoke with EBS on June 9, he said he had a mat, dog life vest and cooler in his truck that he had collected after visiting the Big Sky site.
“There was a recycling site in the Meadow [Village], which was not taken care of very well and residents didn’t want it,” Harned said. “So, in order to keep these sites, we have to keep them clean. The fact that John Haas donated this extremely valuable piece of land for recycling is amazing.”
He also cautioned against “wishful recycling” saying that if residents are unsure if an item can be recycled, just leaving it loose at the site is not a good solution.
In addition to the Adopt a Month initiative, Quick said the recycling center has been working with Big Sky SNO, an organization dedicated to encouraging sustainable practices, to bring awareness to the center and get the Big Sky community more involved. As Big Sky grows, Quick cited Big Sky SNO as a valuable ally that can help with funding and community outreach.
“As we grow there might be some additional grants and funding that can help aid in improving [the center] or increasing that space as Big Sky continues to produce more items that need to be recycled,” Quick said.
She noted that the center collected almost 100,000 additional pounds of recycling from 2019 to 2020 and the growth is anticipated to continue. Currently there are three pickup days a week at the center on Monday, Thursday and Saturday through the summer and Quick said on most of those days the bins are already overflowing.
“We’re working with We Recycle and Republic Services, and Gallatin County taxpayers are paying for this service, we want to do everything that we can to be able to continue to bring awareness to it so that we can anticipate growth and funding and different needs to make sure that Big Sky doesn’t lose this service or it doesn’t get out of control and we’re able to keep stepping up year after year,” Quick said.
Looking to the future, both Quick and Harned expressed the hope that recycling in Big Sky can expand, ideally to a bigger space. Harned said that a second residential recycling site would be very helpful.
Quick added that along with the Adopt a Month initiative, the center is looking to beautify the space by planting trees and grasses to make it a welcoming space for the Big Sky community.