By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer
Last month Watford City residents, businesses, and students participated in a variety of earth-friendly projects including planting trees, picking up trash, and stocking the fish pond as part of Earth Day. And it’s only fitting that recycling would be added to that list.
“About this time every year, I really get into the events and projects that surround Earth Day,” stated Katie Walters, owner and manager of Homestead Management, who is organizing the new recycling program in Watford City. “I think about what and how I can do my part to make our environment and our community better,”
Well, this year she’s stepped it up a notch! Instead of just making her own laundry soap, using cloth napkins at dinner instead of paper napkins or paper towels, or collecting her own business papers, this year she’s decided to organize a recycling station right in Watford City.
“Last year in February, I approached Chamley Pipe and Salvage out of Williston,” explained Walters. “They do the recycling for Williston. When I spoke to them about the idea of partnering with them to establish a recycling system in Watford City, they were super excited.”
Well, of course big ideas like that are exciting, but life happens and ideas get pushed to the back-burner. So, a year later, Walters didn’t just want her idea sitting on the shelf for another year. Instead, she approached city and county officials to make her case. And make her case she did.
“My pitch to the city was that this recycling program would save them $938 a month in landfill/garbage fees,” said Walters. “It will cost $450 to pick up, so if they even come twice in a month, we’re golden!”
Walters explained to city and county officials the plan for the recycling pilot program. It would start with collecting cardboard and office/school papers. This would allow the city to see what kind of demands there were, how often their residents would be utilizing the recycling program, and if the program was successful or not.
“The plan is to collect cardboard and office/school papers to start,” Walters said. “I thought those were pretty good products to start out with, especially with so many people ordering things from Amazon. With those two items, it looks like it’s going to remove 28 tons of trash per month from the landfill. That’s a lot - more than you’d think!”
“With that much trash not actually going to the landfill each month, it will save the landfill 63 cubic yards per month in space,” added Walters. “That’s pretty substantial.”
Walters also added that when she spoke with Watford City Mayor Brent Sanford, he had shared with her the fact that most of the third grade students who wrote essays last month in the ‘Mayor for the Day’ contest had shared about wanting some sort of recycling in Watford City.
For Walters, that just validated why she was pursuing this project.
The program, according to Walters, will be kicking off in the next couple of weeks. Chamley Pipe and Salvage will be dropping off a 20-yard roll-off container with lids for the cardboard. Users will need to flatten their cardboard before dumping them into the container. Chamley will also be chaining three 90-gallon tubs on to the front of the roll-off container for the paper. Users won’t be able to drop off magazines or newspapers at this point, but if the demand is there, it’s something that could be added at a later date.
“It really is a pilot program and I feel like once it gets going, it will really spin off!” exclaimed Walters. “The city and county is supportive. And right now, my idea is to find a very visible spot for people to be able to drop off their cardboard and papers. We have a location in mind, but I am still finalizing everything. The idea is to have a place people can come by and easily drop off their stuff.”
Walters explained that the drop-off location will hopefully be somewhere near Cash Wise. It’s a location that is highly-accessible, very visible, and a no-excuse location for people to bring their recyclables. She adds that she is trying to make it as simple as possible in the beginning and in a location that people don’t have to drive way out of the way to get there.
So why is Walters so passionate about bringing recycling to Watford City? Because it’s her background, it’s what she studied in school, and it’s been her passion for many, many years.
“It really is my passion,” said Walters. “I know the value of recycling and this is really my thing. For me, this is my background. I know how much we throw out - just the stack of papers we get from our kids’ school. I see it. It’s crazy.”
Walters says to be looking for more information as details are finalized and a location is set in stone. As soon as everything is in place, she will post on Facebook, as well as pass information flyers around so everyone knows where the dropoff will be, and what items can and cannot be accepted.
“It’s going to be a learning process,” explained Walters. “People will have to get used to that sorting mentality - to sort their recyclable items and then get into the habit of dropping it off. I think it’s going to be a very cooperative thing. I’m really excited!”