Freecycle zone more than just a dump | AspenTimes.com

Freecycle zone more than just a dump

Joel Stonington

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

As dump trucks rumble into the landfill, throwing dust in the air, they pass a small space set off to one side – Pitkin County’s budding “freecycle” zone. It’s a treasure seeker’s dream, containing reusable items, from furniture to skis to bikes, that are dropped off and picked up free of charge at the landfill.

In the last few days, an Aspen rental shop dumped between 200 and 300 pairs of used snowboard boots and bindings in the zone as it got rid of its old fleet. People have been stopping by to grab a pair for boarding or for just thrashing around on a snowmobile. “This is the third time they’ve come up to drop off gear,” said Dylan Hoffman, outreach coordinator for Pitkin County solid waste, of the rental shop. “We were told they tried to get rid of it on eBay, but because there are so many different styles and sizes they decided it would be easier to give them to us.”Currently, the landfill accepts things for the free area that are usable without being fixed. It rarely takes upholstered furniture, unless an item is really nice and apt to be grabbed right away. Generally, everything gets picked up quickly or, if it sits there long enough, taken to the dump .

“What people think is trash in our community is different from what people think is trash in a less affluent community,” Hoffman said. “People upgrade for the sake of upgrading. Instead of saying my couch is worn out, they say my couch is not as hip as it once was.”The freecycle zone at the landfill has become so popular that it attracts a dedicated following of folks who check in for goodies every week. Hoffman himself, in fact, takes part in the bonanza. “All of the furniture at my house is from the landfill: my couch, coffee table, my bed. I have a futon that came out of it, outside lawn furniture,” Hoffman said. “I’m in a unique position, because we see it come in every day.”

So much comes in that discussions are under way to build a permanent structure for reusable items. “Eventually down the line we want to look at the campus here and put in a covered structure where we can have shelving in order to have a reuse shopping area,” Hoffman said. He added, “Whenever stuff finds a new home, I love that.” Joel Stonington’s e-mail is jstonington@aspentimes.com