It’s amazing what people will throw out, and nobody knows that better than workers at the landfill.
Montezuma County Landfill manager Shak Powers couldn’t stand watching his bulldozers crush and bury usable items anymore, so he worked for a year to obtain a permit from the Colorado Department of Health to salvage and sell items to the public.
The result is the landfill’s new Upcycle Store, which opens Monday. And it’s stocked to the brim.
“It’s part of our larger recycle program to save room at the landfill,” he said. “We’re glad to reduce waste and offer these things to the public at affordable prices.”
The store is in a large back room at the landfill office, 26100 Road F. Prices are negotiable – just make an offer, and the money goes toward landfill operations.
On a tour, Powers fires up a lawnmower in good working condition.
“We didn’t do anything to it,” he said.
There are circular saws, exercise machines, a washing machine – all in working order.
In an overflow hallway, two working pianos, wooden bed frames, bikes and a large barbecue grill are for sale. There is home furniture, chairs, a shelf of Christmas decorations in original boxes.
On a table are a stack of vinyl rock ’n’ roll records, including vintage Yes, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. On a another shelf are rows of artistic knickknacks. There’s a stack of custom wheel rims, office furniture, tool boxes, fishing gear, knives, new welding gloves, a tattoo gun.
The reason people throw out valuable items ranges from indifference to life circumstances, Powers says.
“A lot of it is a wasteful society, but it’s also often due to the life situations people deal with – having to move quickly, or someone dies and the family only has a weekend to clean out a house. It comes to the landfill because they don’t know what else to do with it,” he said.
Landfill staff keep an eye out for valuable items to set aside. And when customers come to unload, they are now asked if they have anything worth saving.
Another benefit of the program is it helps prevent banned chemicals like home-use herbicides and insecticides from contaminating the landfill. The items are now available for sale.
Powers and his staff will also start salvaging usable lumber to offer for sale.
“‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’ is the saying, but too often ‘reuse’ gets forgotten, so we’re trying to change that,” Powers said.
The Upcycle Store is open during regular business hours of the landfill, Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.