Getting ready for Earth Day in Aspen |

Getting ready for Earth Day in Aspen

Trash being diverted from J1 employees moving out after the winter reason.
Jimena Baldino/Courtesy photo

Isn’t every day Earth Day in the Roaring Fork Valley? Thanks to the city of Aspen’s new sustainable initiative, this spring, over 1,000 additional pounds of household appliances and goods will void the landfill. 

Jimena Baldino, the city’s waste diversion and recycling specialist, had an idea last fall and decided to test it out. 
Courtesy photo

Aspen is one of the most progressively sustainable cities in America. That’s not enough. The city always seems to find a nuance or niche that can be improved upon, and one city employee’s hunch turned into a mountain of unnecessary waste diverted from the landfill. 

Jimena Baldino, the city’s waste diversion and recycling specialist, had an idea last fall and decided to test it out. 

“I started coming here as a J1 back in 2015, and I remember not having anywhere to take all the stuff I couldn’t bring back to Argentina, so I would have to throw it in the trash,” she said.

A garbage truck dumps a load of trash at the Pitkin County Landfill off of Highway 82 in 2022.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Each winter (aside from COVID), over 500 J1 individuals, plus all the seasonal employees who only stay for season, come and work in the Roaring Fork Valley.

“Most of J1s go through the same situation as I did,” said Baldino. 

Employee housing usually doesn’t come with kitchen utensils, sheets, blankets, towels, and doesn’t have all the appliances needed. Many times when J1s arrive, they end up buying stuff that’ll be used in Aspen and, at the end of the season, given away.   

“We talked with Skico, APCHA, and Aspen Businesses Services back in December, as we needed their permission to put the bins in the laundry rooms. Then we created signs (both in English and Spanish) and shared a flier with all the managers so they could share it with the residents,” she said.

Her debut program is called Sustainable Move-Out. There are four designated locations (Marolt, Burlingame, Holiday House, and Snoweagle) where her team has put bins in laundry rooms to collect materials. 

“This year, we’re collecting clothes, unopened nonperishable food, cleaning products, small appliances and kitchen utensils, and random items for the house (like small shelves, books, decoration items),” said Baldino. “We go through everything before we donate it/recycle it.”

How many pounds of waste have you diverted thus far?

“So far, we’ve collected 746 pounds of clothes, 95 pounds of food, 228 pounds of utensils/hangers/random items, 17 pounds of cleaning products, three hot plates, four coffee makers, one TV, one electric razor, one rice cooker, one lamp, one toaster, one electric kettle, two metal bunk beds, and one metal shelf,” she said.

Her team takes these items that can be reused to the thrift store in town.

“Stuff that’s broken or in bad condition is recycled at the Recycle Center,” she said. “All the clothes go in the recycle bin we have at the recycle center in town; clothes are donated to communities in need. The food will go to a food bank. Some sheets, blankets, and towels will go to the Aspen Animal Shelter. We will also offer the cleaning products to them.”

There are three more weeks until the program wraps up.