One man’s trash is another man’s treasure | AspenTimes.com
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One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

Landon Hartstein
Did You Know?
Landon Hartstein
Landon Hartstein

This week’s hidden gem isn’t a gem. It’s a gold mine. Last week, my friend Shawn told me he was up at the landfill disposing of some used motor oil. He said when he went to pay, he was given a coupon book that reduced the cost to dispose of his oil.

Now, I know most Aspen residents probably don’t have to change their own motor oil. You don’t exactly do that with a Bentley. However, a handful locals would do it even if they could afford to pay someone else. 

I drive a ’99 Toyota 4runner with 240,000 miles on it. It runs like a top. I change my own oil religiously every 5,000 miles and keep the motor oil receipts to prove it. A discount on disposing my motor oil in an environmentally-safe manner perked my ears right up. He asked me if I’d been out to the landfill before. In nearly 10 years living here, I had not.



Did you know that as a Pitkin County resident you are entitled to a free coupon book worth $100 off disposing your household waste? I didn’t. I didn’t know that as a Pitkin County resident I was entitled to anything except high rent and expensive food. 

The Pitkin County landfill is amazing and recognized statewide as one of the top facilities in Colorado. Consider yourself lucky we can just throw our trash away and it’s taken care of free of thought or consequence by such an amazing facility. India can’t say the same. I know — I’ve walked the streets of Varanasi, and let’s just say the trash is as bad as the cow dung, ankle high.  




Driving up the hill, I found there was way more traffic than I would have expected. I must have passed 15 vehicles coming down on my way up. At the top, there was a line of vehicles waiting to get onto a scale and talk with the person in the scale house. With no need to get on the scale, I pulled over and went inside, where I met Cathy Hall, the solid-waste director. 

I confided that I probably don’t recycle as efficiently as I could, and I don’t compost at all.

“It’s a shame more people don’t compost,” she said. “That’s more than 50% of the waste.”

In what I imagine as my small attempt at being the change I want to see in the world, I’m a fan of dumpster diving and re-using usable products in our throwaway society.

During our conversation, she educated me on how I could make an a greater contribution.

Did you know that 53% of material buried in the landfill could be diverted? This, despite Pitkin County having a 48% diversion rate, second best in the state, meaning “48% of the materials that go to the Aspen landfill are kept out of the trash,” she said.

Did you know that as a Pitkin County resident you are entitled to a free composting bucket? A variety of sizes are available. Did you know that many of the employee-housing complexes like Truscott and condo complexes around the town have composting “trash” cans, latched to prevent bears from getting into it? Did you know that you can bring the free compost bucket you are entitled to as a local up to the waste disposal facility — and, as a resident, and only as a resident, you are entitled to them disposing of it for free!

Neither did I.

Did you know that with your coupon book you are entitled to get $15-$20 off per visit disposing of household waste like motor oil, paint, and batteries?

That’s right — as an Aspen local, you certainly are entitled.

You’re also entitled to disposal of household waste, a free composting bucket, and free food disposal for said composting bucket.

All Aspen locals know where to go in town to get a bargain (Not gonna say it, but some gems need to stay hidden). Most locals don’t know you could head out to the solid-waste disposal facility for a deal. What used to be a free drop and shop has evolved into a very reasonably-priced consignment store, cutely named the Motherlode Mercantile.

The new consignment store boasts a wide array of items. Housed between an old office building and two shipping containers, you can’t believe the deals to be had. Skis, bikes, and sleds outside. Record players, records, dining tables, and mirrors. Lamps, lounge chairs, bed frames, and headboards. With prices like $5 for a chair, $3 for a sled, $1 for a record, and $5 for a bike, it’s worth popping by to see what treasures they may have.

At the waste disposal facility, one person’s trash really is another’s treasure.

If you have a suggestion or hidden gem you’d like Landon to highlight and share with the town, please email him at LandonLikeAPlaneWrites@gmail.com