While many people may not be aware, Trinidad does have curbside recycling. Since last March, three entrepreneurs have been operating Future Generations Recycling, which picks up on Tuesdays, then sorts and hauls the material to a facility in Pueblo.
“It took a little bit of time to get the word out there and what was going on and now we’re booming,” said Jessica DeVolin, who along with her sister Haley Lucero and friend Kelly Eckhoff founded the company.
The idea came out of a conversation between DeVolin and Eckhoff. “Kelly mentioned that we needed curbside in this town,” recalls DeVolin. “And maybe two weeks after that I told her I can’t stop thinking about it, we need to do something with this.”
So in June 2018, they officially started the company, but it took time to get everything in place, including deciding which bags and bins to provide customers, getting a business license, building the website and signing up initial customers. The philosophy behind the company is two fold. The obvious reason, according to Eckhoff, is to keep recycling from going into the landfill.
“But also, I moved here about three and a half years ago,” she said, “and I saw a need for part time work for moms. We’re able to do this as a family, Jessica and Haley’s kids go with them to Pueblo and help dump and sort the recycling, so I think it’s a way to keep our families close and still earn a living.”
The working capital, about $5,000, came from Eckhoff and the company just started turning a profit, with more than 50 residential customers and several commercial accounts.
DeVolin and Lucero make the weekly pickups and haul the sorted material to Roots Recycling in Pueblo, while also handling billing and administrative duties. They recently hired their first employee, Tresley Hensley, who sorts the material in a garage east of Trinidad packed full of recycling bags, cardboard and plastic. The four women are passionate about the work, and full of energy and laughter when describing what they do. “It’s quite the ordeal to go out, pick it up, put it in the trailer, come here, unload it, sort it, put it back in the truck, go to Pueblo, unload it again,” said DeVolin.
To keep the sorting reasonable and efficient, customers must wash all recyclables before putting them out for pickup. “We can’t have a ketchup bottle full of leftover ketchup,” said DeVolin. “They can’t take that in Pueblo, we can’t take it here. But our customers are doing a fantastic job of making sure that everything’s been cleaned.”
Greg Harder, who with his wife recently moved to Trinidad, became a customer as soon as he heard about the company. “We just couldn’t get used to throwing all the things we had formerly recycled into the trash,” he said. “It was disturbing, so we’re just very grateful to Future Generations.”
The company got an immediate boost with the closing of Terra Firma in Trinidad, which was a recycling drop off location. “We were already operating but when they closed, we started booming,” DeVolin said. “So now it’s a little bit tougher on us because we have to haul to Pueblo, but we’ve gained a lot of customers and we’re grateful for that.” They also say community support has been wonderful. One example is local business Faragosi Farms, which gave a financial contribution last week. “We were thrilled,” said Eckhoff.
She also stressed that Trinidad’s recyclables are not shipped overseas, but are instead processed in the U.S. “Our cardboard is going to Oklahoma and being recycled there, our plastics are going to Canon City to a sorting facility and glass is going to Denver, a lot is going to beer companies,” Eckhoff said.
With their company growing faster than anticipated, more customers require the addition of more employees to help with the workload. “So we’re really hoping for that,” said DeVolin, “that gives us the opportunity to continue to be stay at home moms with our kids. And also help other people out who are in need of a job.”
And they say the men in their lives are learning. “We’ve had to train them how to recycle,” said a smiling Haley Lucero. “They throw stuff away, we take it out and show them how to clean it and where it goes, so we’re teaching them.”
For more information on Future Generations Recycling, with prices ranging from $10 to $40 per month, depending on amount and frequency of pickup, go to www.futuregenrecycling.com