Where It All Started:

In 2011, Corey and her husband purchased a new truck. Shortly after the began making payments, her husband was laid off. She told him “Well, if we are going to keep this truck, we need to find a way for it to pay for itself. . . and I have an idea.”

Her kids had been watching the movie “Robots” and a quote from the movie stuck in her mind: “See a need, fill a need.” She saw a need. Delta had no pick-up service for recycling.

But a recycling pick-up service alone wasn’t all that Corey wanted to create. She wanted to make a business that helped people learn to reduce their impact on the earth. She would not only focus on helping them recycle more, but also to make better purchasing choices all around.

In order to help her clients reduce their carbon footprint, she knew she needed to start with her own business. She needed to make sure that she created routes to provide services to people far from town in the most efficient way possible. Luckily, she knew how. As a young adult living in Albuquerque, NM, her roommate ran a curbside painting business. She worked with him, learning to build routes with the lowest possible carbon footprint.

Using her knowledge of recycling and creating pick up-routes, Corey started her business: Rice Recycling.  In business since 2011, Corey has learned a lot about recycling.

“Recycling is a last resort,” Corey says “Rice Recycling isn’t about helping you recycle more. It is about helping you reduce your carbon footprint. And we don’t recycle rice. I was called once, no joke, about 5 tons of basmati rice.”

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For Corey, her business is less about making money and more about a passion for the environment and global change through local action. “Recycling is a global issue. It’s all about your carbon footprint. Carbon footprint is tied to population growth, white supremacy, and privilege. And plastic is the worst offender. It is made from oil. American soldiers have died for plastic consumption because it is tied to oil consumption.”

The general population’s need for cheaper and more convenient products has fed an environment and economy devastating monster. Fuel is burned to make items and their packaging. It is used to transport items. Giant corporations like Wal-Mart and Amazon ship items all over the world. Fuel is also used when those items are taken to a landfill or recycled. This practice of purchasing cheaper items made overseas comes at a great cost.

Plastic takes a long time to degrade. Chances are, every piece of plastic you have purchased, used for a moment, and then thrown out still exists somewhere. And yet, according to the EPA, a whopping 91.6% of all plastics go un-recycled.

What can we do? How do we make any impact on this global issue?

Corey’s answer “Love first, and make good choices. Focus on local change. Start with the purchase. Ignore all the marketing. Is it from a local source? Or at least the US? Can you repurpose it? Compost it? Recycle it? Understand what recycles in your area and where it goes afterward. Here, recycling goes from your home to the sorting center in Grand Junction. Then it is shipped by rail to Denver. So, reduce your need and reuse as much as you can.”

“Recycling centers only accept what they can sell. The most recyclable and valuable items are 1 and 2 plastics, and aluminum. Try to use more environmentally friendly materials like cotton. Cotton cleaning rags, clothing, shopping bags etc. Reusable shopping bags and microfiber towels are made with new plastics and are not recyclable.”

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Corey adds: “Another point that may not be understood is that Styrofoam is not recyclable in most areas. Styrofoam recycling is limited to coastal cities.” Corey says “Boycott companies that use Styrofoam. Write them a letter to ask them not to use it. You would be surprised how much impact a well-written letter can have.”

Corey has a few tips for effective recycling on the Western Slope:

  1. Wash out all your recycling items. Use your dishwasher to reduce your water usage. (Yes, dishwashers use far less water than washing dishes by hand)
  2. Unwashed items are not recyclable. They are trash.
  3. Items must be at least the size of the palm of your hand or they cannot be recycled.
  4. Sort your items properly. (especially if you are taking your items to the recycling center or using Rice Recycling). Items that are not sorted well waste time, money, and energy.
  5. Is getting all the peanut butter out of the jar making you crazy? Grind your own! Save time and money. Plus, you can get grinders made here in the USA!
  6. Crush water bottles and jugs. Bottles that are not crushed take up a lot more space.
  7. Know what items are not recyclable. Common items that people mistake as recyclable are:
    1. Bubble wrap and paper envelopes with bubble wrap liners.
    2. Cling Wrap
    3. Rubber Gloves
    4. Syringes
    5. Paper towels
    6. Plastic soda bottle lids
    7. Items smaller than your palm
    8. Broken glass
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