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Patagonia funds recycling

Jeremy Heiman
Carbondale Correspondent

CARBONDALE “Recycling bottles, cans and newspapers is about to get a little easier in Carbondale.

New recycling stations will be placed at 15 locations throughout town, thanks to a $20,000 grant from Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company.

Carbondale Public Works Director Larry Ballenger said the stations, called “clusters,” have been ordered and will be arriving any day. Each station will have three barrels ” one for co-mingled containers, one for newspaper and one for trash.



The stations will be located in all town parks and at other areas where people congregate, including bus stops, trailheads and other popular places, Ballenger said.

The discussions that led to the grant originated three or four weeks before the 5 Point Film Festival sponsored by Patagonia, which was held in Carbondale in May.



Festival founder and director Julie Kennedy, a longtime Valley resident, was having dinner with Patagonia’s chief executive officer, Casey Sheahan, a Carbondale resident, and the company’s chief financial officer, when the two asked her what she thought the company could do for the town of Carbondale.

“It was all very casual,” Kennedy said. “They just asked me, ‘What does Carbondale need?'”

Kennedy, who lives just outside of town, said the town needs a recycling center for people who don’t have access to curbside recycling. Sheahan and his chief financial officder told Kennedy she had 48 hours to go to the town government and find out what the town needs in the way of recycling facilities, she said.



“This was a gracious donation that Patagonia made to Carbondale,” Kennedy said.

Patagonia is noted for its commitment to environmental activism. According to the company’s Web site, Patagonia’s Environmental Grants Program has contributed more than $22 million to grassroots environmental activists since the program began in 1985.

Kennedy was at Town Hall the next morning, waiting for the building to open. When it did, she met Recreation Director Jeff Jackel, with whom she had been working to coordinate showings of festival films in the new Carbondale Recreation Center, and the two of them marched into Ballenger’s office, she said.

Kennedy announced that Patagonia had offered to donate $20,000 toward a recycling center for Carbondale. Ballenger said he replied that the town, which has discussed recycling options for many years, appreciated the offer. But he had to point out that Carbondale can’t afford to support a recycling center.

“For one thing, we don’t have the land resources for a full-sized recycling center,” Ballenger said. Recent estimates indicate that the full cost of starting up a recycling center would be in the neighborhood of $271,000, he said, excluding the cost of land, and operating costs could be expected to run around $70,000 annually.

“It’s just tough for a little town like Carbondale to get involved in recycling at that scale,” Ballenger said.

Instead, Ballenger suggested the recycling stations to Kennedy. He said they decided on 15 stations simply because that’s the number of recycling stations that $20,000 will buy, when installation and other costs are considered.


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