Composting your Christmas tree and Recycling your Holiday lights options

The Pitkin County Landfill and the City of Aspen offer free drop off for residents’ Christmas trees and holiday lights.

Your BARE (naked, as in nude, as in no lights, decorations, tinsel or tree stands) natural (as in no artificial) Christmas trees are welcome  in the compost pile at the Pitkin county landfill.

We will compost them.  Compost is good for the environment because it reduces greenhouse gases and saves space in the landfill.

Here’s what you need to know!

From December 20 until Valentine’s Day, you may bring your BARE tree to the landfill during our hours of operation or drop it off at the Rio Grande Recycling Center in Aspen.

THIS IS FOR TREES ONLY.  No wreaths, garlands, or other boughs.  We will chip the natural trees into mulch and add them into compost.


Until Valentine’s Day we’ll also recycle your old holiday lights in our special recycling container at the Rio Grande Recycling Center.  Holiday lights have metal which is easily recycled and does not need to be buried with the trash.  Other locations include the landfill, 2nd floor Aspen City Hall and a box at Ace Hardware in Aspen.

For more information call Jack Johnson at 429-2885 or Liz Chapman at 429-1831.

Pitkin County Solid Waste Center Now Offering Textile Recycling

Thrift Shop and second hand store rejects are getting a second chance thanks to a new textile recycling program at the Pitkin County Solid Waste Center. Old worn out t-shirts, towels and blankets with holes, ill-fitting clothing, and running and hiking shoes that have lost their spring might have ended up in the landfill. Now they’re being collected at the Solid Waste Center and diverted back into the ‘reuse’ market.

“We’re partnering with USAgain out of Denver, a green for-profit enterprise committed to reducing textile waste by putting them back in the use cycle to not only preserve landfill space but conserve precious natural resources and prevent greenhouse gas emissions,” said Cathy Hall, Pitkin County Landfill Manager.
The US EPA estimates a whopping 12 million tons of textile waste goes into U.S. landfills each year. Approximately 1,600 tons of textiles end up in the Pitkin County Landfill annually.

“This equates to 4.3% of our total waste stream,” added Hall. “By diverting this waste we save landfill space, reduce carbon emissions, and find a beneficial second life for these items.”


The County’s textile recycling program will accept clothing, linens, blankets, towels, gloves and hats, purses, backpacks, belts, shoes and boots. Items in good, reusable condition will find their way to the secondary resale markets. Items that do not have a direct reuse will end up being recycled and converted into shop rags, insulation, or recycled into fiber to be made into new textiles.

“The intention of the program is not compete with the thrift stores in the Valley,” said Cathy Hall, “We want to provide an outlet to capture those textiles and shoes that are not suitable for resale in those outlets. We will work closely with thrift stores to provide a recycling option for them, and remove the burden of handling textile materials they cannot sell.” Hall added, “We can also help reduce their costs and further their mission by giving them a free, local option to recycle what they are currently paying to throw away.”

According to Nick Thompson, of USAgain Denver, “By putting textiles back in the use cycle we conserve precious natural resources, prevent greenhouse gas emissions and save landfill space. What’s more, the clothes are given a second life at affordable prices for people who can’t afford brand new clothes.”

Unwanted textiles and shoes can be taken, free of charge, to the Pitkin County Landfill during operating hours (Monday through Friday, 7:30am to 4:15pm and Saturday 9am to 11:45am). Shoes must be in pairs, and separate from the textiles. Textiles can be bagged in clear bags, or deposited loose in collection bins. Rugs and carpeting are not accepted.

For more information contact the Pitkin County Landfill at (970) 429-2880 or visit our webpage at


What can be accepted graphic

Wooly: Landfills Explained Teaches Kids About Landfills, Recycling, Composting and Hazardous Waste

Wooly: Landfills Explained is a 5-volume comic book series designed to educate school children in grades 3-5 about the relationship between waste and our everyday lives.  Using Colorado STEM standards, it is available to everyone, anywhere via mobile app technology. Students may go at their own pace or work with others in a classroom.

Composting and Our Community

What’s In Our Trash?

Where Does Our Trash Go?

Let’s Sort Our Trash!


Wooly includes embedded links, video lessons, hands on demonstrations of practical in-classroom experiments, a teacher’s handbook and “career cards” to educate children (and their families) about composting, recycling, household hazardous waste, e-waste and other landfill diversion programs. Most waste is a valuable resource so Wooly educates how to divert waste instead of burying it forever.

The program provides lessons on how landfills are properly managed to protect the environment when our waste actually must be buried instead of diverted and includes sections on how to reduce waste in the first place by refusing to make unnecessary purchases and reusing and repurposing items we would otherwise throw away. Wooly makes apparent our everyday activity, including children’s toys and gifts have a waste element associated with them.Wooly, Innoation Award Photo 3

Specifically, our program teaches children they are individually responsible for the waste they generate and how that waste is properly managed at their local landfills. Wooly promotes individual responsibility for the waste associated with children’s purchases, teaches the connection between individual action in waste generation and disposal, and how effective landfill management improves the quality of our lives, soil, water and air. Results are demonstrated with the embedded video lessons and the in classroom and at home experiments.

Wooly innovatively uses mobile app technology to reach school children with the actual program but also harnesses the ability of the mobile app technology to creatively deliver the embedded live links to outside organizations like the NOVA television program on the Public Broadcasting System and to the specific video demonstrations of the lessons.

The app can act as a mini-landfill tour taking the children out of their lesson and onto the site for an actual demonstration of how things work. The program also offers detailed examples of careers in the integrated solid waste field that include women characters interested in the field.

Through the experiments children are exposed to the STEM education behind the activities but encouraged to explore on their own. They are encouraged to learn how they can chose to modify their own actions and choices to make decisions that protect the environment.

Wooly, Innvotation Award Photo 1


Our hardy team of intrepid volunteers and our esteemed leader, Kim Doyle Wille, of Growing Empowerment built a “keyhole garden” on Saturday.

The “big idea” of a keyhole garden is to combine the planting and composting parts of a garden into one holding moisture and nutrients in place.  The idea originates in Africa is being adapted by many gardeners in hot, arid climates.  The Pitkin Couty landfill garden certainly qualifies!

Ours is made of materials diverted from the landfill and will use our compost (available for sale.)  Eventually the produce we raise will be donated to LIFT UP.


In progress!  We cut discarded lumber from a tear down to size and held it together with chicken wire and strapping tape.  The black “dirt” is our compost and the cardboard, diverted from our recycling, is here re-purposed into a weed barrier.

first image of key hole

The finished (nearly) keyhole garden.

half finished key hole


We held our 3rd Annual Mushroom Lecture and Foray on Saturday. You may have missed it but 13 others didn’t. We learned about the importance of fungi, microbes and other micro creatures in producing compost and their part in a healthy eco-system. We have bags of our “SCRAPS” brand of compost and potting soil are available for purchase at the landfill. Foray Hilary lecture right side up

Pitkin County’s Compost is US Composting Council STA Certified

Pitkin County’s compost program is US Composting Council Standard for Testing Assurance (STA) Certified. To learn more about what STA Certified compost means, view the video, hosted by PBS Channel’s Joe Lamp’l from Growing a Greener World.

For more information on our compost, pricing and and our related soil products, contact the Pitkin County Solid Waste Center at 970-429-2880.


Hats off to Edeltraud Lyons!

Edeltraud Lyons, 73, made two Self Wicking Raised Garden Beds after attending our Living Lab Workshop this spring.  Each is made from re-purposed pallets diverted from the landfill, and uses Pitco Products–Compost, Potting Soil and gravel.  Good work!

Edeltraud raised bed 2

Edeltraud raised bed 1

Pitkin County Kicks Off Media Campaign Aimed at Extending the Life of the Landfill

Extending the life of the Pitkin County Landfill is the goal of a multi-media public outreach campaign that got underway this week. Animated Television and print ads will circulate featuring styrofoam, cardboard, plastic and food waste characters chastising each other for being in the landfill when they should have been recycled, reused, refused or composted.

“It’s a creative approach to getting our community’s attention about the limited life of our landfill and how we can extend it by thinking twice about the products we use and throw away,” said Pitkin County Landfill Manager, Cathy Hall.

Estimates are that without a fairly drastic change in the community’s collective ‘trash behavior’ the landfill will reach capacity and have to be closed in under 15 years, according to Hall.

Several programs are already underway at the landfill that are succeeding in diverting waste including aggregate recovery which recycles and diverts rocks and dirt from construction waste into road bed, landscaping and gardening materials for sale, a composting program for yard and food waste, and a ‘Drop and Swap’ program designed to repurpose items that still have a useful life. These programs are in addition to recycling drop off locations where recyclables are collected and processed at a facility in Denver.

“It may surprise some to learn that approximately 37% of our waste stream at the landfill is comprised of food and other organic material. That’s why we developed ‘SCRAPS’, a food waste collection program that provides containers to collect food scraps for both residential and commercial operations,” Hall said. “That food waste and organic material is turned into compost for use in your yards and gardens.”

The ongoing public outreach campaign is designed to raise awareness about what is recyclable and what is not, when to refuse products like styrofoam and plastic straws because they are not recyclable, when to consider reusing otherwise throwaway items, and encouraging composting, among other landfill ‘diversion tactics.’

The campaign continues through the summer months and will be visible in local newspapers, on local radio and television, as well as social media.

Contact: Cathy Hall, Landfill Manager: 429-2882

Television spots may be viewed on the Pitkin County YouTube Channel: