Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cowboy boots making smaller carbon footprint

I was glad to see recycling bins on the grounds of Cheyenne Frontier Days events this week. Cheyenne's 10-day summer event must generate tens of thousands of plastic bottles and cans. So many thirsty parade-goers and rodeo fans and music-lovers. Not all the containers find their way into the recycling bins, but installing one next to every trash can helps a lot.

The greening of the CFD may have been caused, in part, by similar efforts at the Greeley Stampede that takes place early in July in Greeley, about 45 minutes south of here. Cheyenne Frontier Days is the older and bigger event, but Stampede P.R. people inundated regional media this year with their "going green" promos. Here's how it was described in the June 18 Greeley Tribune:

The annual event, scheduled for June 25-July 5, has partnered with Waste Management, Coors Brewing Co. and the city of Greeley to initiate a multi-phase, environmentally friendly program. The endeavor aims to reduce waste, save energy and leave a lighter carbon footprint during this year's celebration.

Guests will be able to ride their bikes to the Stampede and park them for free. Bike racks will be available by the 14th Avenue entrance, near the Splash Park and by the Poudre River Trail entrance. Guests are not able to ride bicycles through the park during the event, but will now have a place to secure their bikes.

Visitors also can enjoy Coors products served in Greenware disposable cups. Greenware is a line of premium cups made of natural materials that are fully compostable — made entirely from an renewable resource, corn. Once used and disposed of, the cups will be completely composted in about 50 days.

Specially marked blue containers will be available where visitors can place empty plastic bottles and cans. The city of Greeley will collect plastic bottles and aluminum cans for Waste Management to collect and transport to recycling centers.

That's a pretty good start. No word yet on how they plan to cut down on ozone-depleting steer farts.

On a similar note, the CFD recycling plan includes carting thousands of tons of manure to Laramie County's composting facility. That's a dirty job but I'm glad they're doing it. Local gardners make use of that composting facility which in turn leads to tasty veggies and pretty flowers and healthy trees. Conservative cowpokes and hippie-dippy veggie wranglers are more intertwined than either camp will admit.

Here's more green news from the CFD web site:

Cheyenne Frontier Days, Trihydro Corporation (a Laramie-based engineering and environmental consulting firm), Swire Coca Cola and the City of Cheyenne have agreed to partner again in a major recycling program at Frontier Park. According to Concessions Chairman Matt Jones, the recycling program that was started last year was a great success. "We recycled 5 tons of plastic last year, and we hope to beat that amount this year," said Jones. "We encourage all of our guests to use the recycling cans, located with trash cans, on the park."

Trihydro provides engineering and environmental services to industrial, commercial, and government clients. The firm, founded in 1984, has grown strategically to employ approximately 260 professionals and support staff, of which 160 are based in the firm’s Wyoming offices (Cheyenne, Casper, Lander, and Laramie).

CFD has recycled all the manure collected during the ten day event at a local composting facility for many years. "We have also separated and collected our cardboard for recycling for a few years now," said Jones. "This year we will also be recycling aluminum cans along with the plastic bottles." Jones and CFD officials met with Swire Coca Cola, Dennis Pino (City Sanitation), Trihydro, and others earlier this year to discuss the continuation of collecting plastic during CFD for recycling. Working with the City of Cheyenne, CFD will collect as much plastic and aluminum on the park during the celebration as possible, separate these items from the general waste, and send the plastic and aluminum for recycling, thereby keeping it out of the landfill.

In addition to separating plastic bottles and aluminum cans from the trash during show time, CFD will also recycle these items from committee buildings around the park and the headquarters building. Last year, CFD officials made an effort to replace old bathroom fixtures with newer more water efficient models where appropriate. Parking lot lights were replaced with updated fixtures which provide more light while decreasing power usage. In addition, every year, the CFD grounds crew winterizes the park to shut down buildings with only seasonal usage, thereby decreasing energy and water usage. They also pull weeds by hand rather than using chemical pesticides while maintaining the park.

There is a bandwagon effect here that people who put on parades know very well. It's patriotic to fly the green flag, and cowboys are all about being patriotic.

Here at home, my family and our visitors from afar are going through hundreds of plastic water bottles, aluminum soda cans and craft brew bottles. My son Kevin has hauled many containers of recyclables to the Big Blue Bins at the K-Mart parking lot. We're also cutting down on water usage by taking only one shower per week. Just kidding -- that's just me. Hey, I'm on vacation!

The City of Cheyenne has made great strides the past few years toward cutting down on water use. It's expanding its curbside recycling program. The greenway is terrific and it prods residents to get out and walk and run and ride bikes to work. On the negative side, our public transportation system is laughable and sprawl continues to the north and east. Laramie County has no wise-growth plan. Cheyenne needs to support downtown residential efforts, such as those promoted in Sheridan this summer at "Living Upstairs in Wyoming."

We're getting there -- but still playing catch-up to some of Colorado's communities, such as our neighbor Fort Collins and our bigger neighbor, Denver. Read about some of their efforts at

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