Archive for the ‘Recycling’ Category

Menlo for Hard Core Recyclers

April 30, 2012

Menlo Recycling pays top dollar

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Every time that I took a turn in my Honda, the cans and bottles made a musical sound in my trunk. But when I hit the brakes, I realized that all of those cans likely toppled everywhere, and it was time to recycle.

But the only day that I can run errands is on Mondays, and EarthWize in Valle Vista and San Jacinto are closed that day.

The clerk at PIP Printing in Hemet steered me to Menlo Recycling, just a couple of blocks away on Buena Vista and Menlo. Let me just say one thing: Menlo Recycling is a serious recycling place, located in a warehouse with guys driving forklifts, so you probably don’t want to go there if you’re prissy or feint of heart.

It’s not like EarthWize Recycling which boast clean, metal trailers, with helpful clerks and are conveniently located next to Stater Bros. grocery stores. The problem with that arrangement is that I always spend all of my recycling money in Stater Bros. and generally only get about $8 for my trunkload.

When you drive up to Menlo Recycling, go directly to the back and get in line. (It’s kind of like the traffic flow at Strawberry Creek Shopping). Don’t do as I did and go in through the open exit. People get pretty excited when you do that–even if you’re a newcomer!

Once inside, grab your own large bins and start filling them, separating your plastic bottles, aluminum cans and glass bottles. Nobody waits on you, so you help yourself. All around me were people busying themselves with their recycling. It wasn’t a social gathering at all!

I filled my bins and looked around to see if they had left their caps on. I heard before that at some recycling centers, they make you take off the caps. I didn’t want to do that since I had more than 100 plastic bottles.

Cash and receipt

“No, honey, you keep the lids on,” said the woman ahead of me in line. “They weigh a little bit more, and every bit counts!”

She was sort of talking to me like I had never recycled before. Maybe because my bag broke and I had to chase down a couple of loose bottles. She also informed me that I didn’t need to crush every bottle, which was a relief.

But, behind me to my right was a guy putting auto parts into his bin, which was a metal bin instead of a plastic one. He was taking his time about it, sorting through boxes and dumping what looked like chunky pieces into this huge bin. Where was all of his cans and bottles, I wondered!

Then it occurred to me that he was recycling scrap metal!

So what the heck is considered scrap metal?  The first I heard of it was a sign past the bridge in Valle Vista that reads: “No-No Scrap Metal!” I imagined that, in the dark of night, people were stealing bumpers from his rusty old cars and getting top dollar. Scrap metal referred to big chunks of metal like you’d find in junk yards. It’s not those tiny nuts and bolts that the guy behind me in line was putting into his cart.

The same lady was a wellspring of recycling information.

“First of all,” she told me, “EarthWize doesn’t pay top dollar, and Menlo Recycling will honor any PennySaver or other recycling coupons–as long as they’re local. I once got $2 for one coupon.”

“It’s hard to say what scrap metal they’ll take,” she continued. “Sometimes, you just have to bring it in and see. But for some metal, they only pay 2 cents a pound! I once got only $2 for a light metal ladder!”

The guys ahead of us were weighing metal strips that cover the bottom of doorways. Another guy had what looked like rusty brake drums. His total came to 75 pounds. In metal recycling, the heavier the piece, the better.

She said that she’s recycled her pots and pans because the finish was gone.

Maybe this metal cart will fetch some money at Menlo

“Copper wire pays great, but it’s hard to find,” she said. “There’s copper in refrigerators, but you have to take them apart first, and that’s a lot of work!”

She said that ladders, wheelbarrows, computer parts, tools and even bags of screws are some things she’s recycled.

Maybe I should add metal to my recycling repertoire. I do a lot of walking and have come across metal bumpers and parts that would likely fetch a pretty penny!

When it came to my turn, I put the bins onto a huge scale, while the guy with the laptop was calculating the amounts. I ended up with a grand total of $18.98! That’s more than I’ve ever gotten before!

I had cash in hand and felt a little giddy about my scrap metal prospects! Maybe I could recycle that shopping cart that my sister gave me that’s rusting on my deck! And what about some of the bags of nuts and bolts that I never use?

Have places like Menlo Recycling always been around, or have just sprouted up during these hard economic times? It reminded me of the 2001 economic crisis in Argentina (when I lived in Chile) where folks were stealing metal from public sculptures. At first, it was the gold, then the copper, and then finally, the entire bronze statues!

Menlo receipt

This prospect of metal recycling appealed to me not just to clean out my shed, but to help clean up the Idyllwild environment.  I’ll start with the shopping  cart, the screws and the bumper that I saw in the bushes.  If they take those, and give me a good price, then I’ll be hooked!

I wonder what kind of music my trunk will make when I add heavy metal to the mix?

Menlo Recycling is located at 445 E. Menlo in Hemet. Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Sundays and holidays.

Posted signs list prices and limitations of scrap metal recycling, including the need for a valid driver’s license.

For more information, call (951) 766-8520 or visit

EarthWize Recycling is conveniently located in Valle Vista and San Jacinto next to Stater Bros. groceries. On their web site, there’s lots of fun facts about recycling. Visit

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Student ‘Green Team’ Focuses on Recycling, Growth

March 30, 2012

Devin worked on a garlic farm for a week

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“It’s not easy being green,” sang Kermit the frog from The Muppets.

Students from the ‘Green Team’ at Idyllwild Arts can identify. The ideas they plan to propose for their school will take time and effort, but the payoff will be well worth it.

Four of them, including Devin, Alex, Michelle and Katherine, recently attended the ‘Green Schools National Conference’ in Denver with faculty member Shannon Jacobs. They wanted to help their school become more eco-friendly.

During their All-School meeting on Friday, March 9, the group presented a 5-minute video they had created about the experience.

Devin, an Interdisciplinary Arts (IM) major, was the one who interviewed many attendees on camera. They didn’t just interview students, but families and older people as well.

“Why is the environment important to you?” Devin asked.

“Because we live in it,” one student said.

“It’s the only thing that we have left,” quipped another.

An older woman said that it was an important for her to hand over the earth in a good state to her children.

“We need to give a beautiful gift to them,” she said.

The video also showed B-roll of the breakout sessions, lectures, and some new environmental products.

“They also shot about five minutes of Michelle eating french fries,” teased Isaac, a friend of Michelle’s, a dance major.

She said that she enjoyed the conference because of all of the ideas presented there. The Green Team is currently looking over many of them, including growing a garden.

The Green Team hopes to grow garlic and sell to local merchants, such as Cafe Aroma

Devin said they’re considering growing garlic, and maybe selling it to Idyllwild merchants, such as Cafe Aroma at a reduced price.

“I worked on a garlic farm for a week, and its surprisingly easy to grow,” Devin said.

The Green Team is also looking into hosting a guest lecture series to learn more about recycling and the environment. They’ve heard there are groups in town, such as Sustainable Idyllwild, that perhaps they can collaborate with.

Although most of these ideas are still in the planning stages, the Green Team actively searches out new ideas from other students and the faculty. Brian D. Cohen, the school’s headmaster, is a strong proponent of recycling and saving energy.

Just this year, the academy’s cafeteria saw a big change. Signs went up about food waste, and they even weighed the garbage cans to prove it.

Then there was an effort to help save water and energy by not using food trays, but carrying your dishes to the table. Once finished, everyone was encouraged to scrape their plates and separate them into bins.

Just the act of standing over a trash can and scraping away your leftovers made students aware of what was being wasted.

“I started gaining more weight because I didn’t want to throw any food away,” said one van driver.

Everyone is encouraged to ask for less portions, and those who want more must go through the line a second time.

Besides the cafeteria, the offices got a change with energy efficient lighting. They’re the kind of lights that come on automatically, and shut off after you leave. That way, no one is walking into a dark bathroom or hallway.

(from L) Michelle, who attended the Denver conference, and her friend, Becky

“They detect motion, so they’re not going to shut off after a few minutes,” explained Angela, the school’s receptionist.

She said she likes the new improvements, and its nice to know they’re saving energy.

Another idea the Green Team are considering is healthy vending, which means healthy alternatives in the vending machines and in the school’s bookstore.

He encouraged everyone to check out their Facebook page called, “Idyllwild Greenies.”

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.



New CRV Policy for Recycling Center

January 18, 2012

Andrew from Earthwize had to announce the company's new policy on milk jugs

By Marcia E. Gawecki

On Monday, Jan. 16, Earthwize, the recycling center near the Stater Bros. in Hemet, announced a new policy.

They are no longer taking non-CA CRV plastic milk jugs or 100% juice containers.

“We just got an email this morning saying that it’s our new policy,” said Andrew, who has worked at Earthwize for four months. “It’s got to say ‘California CRV’ on it, or we can’t take it.”

Before Monday, Earthwize would allow recyclers to intermingle their non-CRV milk and juice jugs with their other CA-CRV plastic bottles. For example, empty milk jugs would be mixed and weighed with Coke and Pepsi containers.

You can tell what is recyclable and what isn’t by looking for the ‘CA CRV’ redemption symbol printed on the bottles.

“The milk jugs would add more weight and give them a little bit more, but not much,” said Andrew.

According to Earthwize’s overhead sign, the company would pay $1.43 a pound for mixed plastic bottles (including CA CRV and non-CRV) or $1.54 a pound for pure CA CRV plastic containers. That is, until Monday.

Taking these recyclables without California CRV was more of a courtesy for our company, Andrew said. He would just store them in a separate container the back and someone would pick them up and dispose of them.

Andrew explains the new policy to a customer

“We’d get about 100 of those plastic jugs a day,” he said. “They were taking up a lot of space.”

Andrew thinks the new policy may be a space saver for the company, but more than likely, it was the State of California that determined the new recycling policy.

“The state evaluates all of the recycling centers, from time to time,” Andrew explained. “Then they take into account all that is recyclable and what isn’t.”

The State of California sets the policy, our company doesn’t, he added.

The state must’ve determined that penny glass (wine bottles) weren’t cost-effective either. Most recycling places won’t take them now, but the Transfer Station in Idyllwild will.

Each person who came up to the Earthwize recycling center in Hemet that morning got the verbal announcement about the new policy from Andrew. Most of them took it in stride, but one guy got angry.

“What am I supposed to do with all of them now?” he asked Andrew.

“They are supposed to take them back with them, but a few people dropped them into my trash bins when I wasn’t looking,” Andrew said.

Hopefully, Earthwize will revise their sign soon, so Andrew won’t have to make their new policy announcement 100 times a day.

Andrew points to the former Earthwize price for mixed plastic bottles

He didn’t seem to mind, however.

For more information about Earthwize and their recycling policies, call (909) 605-5770 or visit

Earthwize is based out of Ontario, California, but has recycling centers all over the state. The closest one to Idyllwild is at the bottom of the hill, next to the Stater Bros.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Follow-up: Illegal Dumping Near Idyllwild

April 14, 2010

An illegal dump site along Hwy. 74 will be cleaned up soon

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By Marcia E. Gawecki

The operator at Riverside County Code Enforcement said that she’d contact a police officer about the massive dumpsite along Highway 74 near Idyllwild. (See blog article posted on March 30, 2010). There was a front-load washer, two armchairs, a mattress, an old TV and several tires among the debris there.

“Since it’s not a residence with a parcel number, we have to contact a code enforcement officer,” she said. She would have Officer Carol Foray call back.

She was quick about it. Officer Foray asked about the contents of the site, the general area and the mile marker, which was no. 52.

“I’ll take a GPS device and try and figure out the coordinates of that parcel,” she said. “Someone owns it.”

The next step, she said, would be to send a cleanup notice to the owners, and they’d have 30 days to clean it up.

“The owners may live out of the area, and more than likely, they don’t know about the dump site. We have to give them time to send someone to clean it up. They are entitled to due process,” Officer Foray said.

Ordinance 541.5, which was enacted recently, gives Code Enforcement officers an expedited way of dealing with illegal dumping, she said, without having to get permission from the County Board of Supervisors.

“Idyllwild is unusual because it is an unincorporated area in Riverside County. There is no mayor, so the County Board of Supervisors acts as the governing body,” she said. “With this ordinance, we don’t have to contact them every time we find an illegal dump site.”

Mile Marker 52/83 pinpoints the exact dump location

Two days later, Officer Foray called back requesting more detailed information on the location.

“I’ve been up and down that highway, and cannot find the illegal dumping location,” she said. “Mile marker 52 stretches an entire mile, which is a long way with many pullouts.”

She requested the tenth of a mile numbers located on the same mile marker. It would help her pinpoint the exact location.

The Idyllwild resident who first reported finding the illegal dumpsite said that it was mile marker 52/83.

“It’s at the widest part of the pullout at mile marker 52/83,” she said. “If you stand at that point, you can see it immediately over the edge. But if the officer goes to mile marker 52/97, she’s gone too far.”

When asked what the fine would be for a site of that magnitude, Officer Foray wouldn’t speculate. She referred all further media questions to Hector, her supervisor.

To report illegal dumping in the Idyllwild area, contact (951) 600-6140.

To help eliminate your household hazardous waste, visit the Idyllwild Area Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event on May 15 at the County Road Yard located at 25780 Johnson Road. There, you can bring computers, old cans of paint, and other household hazardous materials to donate, without having to go to Lamb Canyon and pay a disposal fee. For more information, visit

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Illegal Dumping Near Idyllwild

March 30, 2010

Illegal dumping mars the scenery near Idyllwild

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The Idyllwild Arts van was parked outside a large Asian supermarket in Los Angeles. It was Spring Break, and several home-stay students were inside buying groceries. A couple of them were waiting in the van, when a man walked up to his car with a cartful of groceries. He opened up the trunk, took out a white bathroom sink and laid it on the parking lot pavement, then put in several bags of groceries.

“I was waiting for him to put the sink back in his car,” said Chia-Ti “Fion” Chen, an Interdisciplinary Arts major. “But he just smiled at me, left it there and drove away.”

A couple of small children had to step over the deserted sink on their way to their SUV.

“Look, Dad!” There’s a sink on the ground!” they exclaimed in Spanish.

Illegal dumping doesn’t just happen on the streets of LA, but along the scenic hillsides of Idyllwild. Not only is it unsightly, but also it’s considered a crime that comes with a hefty $1,000 fine, if convicted. The trouble is, unlike the Asian market scenario, the dumping perpetrators are rarely caught in the act.

Recently, an Idyllwild resident found a massive illegal dumping site along Hwy. 74 towards Idyllwild from Hemet. The woman had just stopped in the pullout by mile marker number 52 to stretch and take pictures of the panoramic view. However, when she looked down, she saw an unsightly pile of refuse. Scattered down the hillside was a washer, a queen-sized mattress, two armchairs, and a roll of carpeting, screens, an old-fashioned TV, a child’s car seat and several old tires.

“It looked like the person just drove a truck up to the edge, and chucked the items overboard,” she said. “The front-loaded washer, looked brand new and could have been sold or donated to a thrift store. Even our local dump would have taken those items.”

“It’s really sad that they prefer to deface our beautiful countryside and endanger birds and animals for their convenience,” she added.

“Sure, we’ll take an old mattress,” said Ramon, one of the guys who works for Waste Management at the Idyllwild Transfer Station. He pointed to a section set aside for large, bulky items such as mattresses, furniture and carpeting. He would have taken the washer too, he said. None of them had to be working or in good condition.

“Tires and refrigerators are the only things that I cannot take,” added Ramon. “But if they have an approved sticker on the refrigerators, they’re OK.”

He explained that refrigerators have a liquid inside that reacts to sunlight and can emit toxic chemicals. However, if a professional removes the liquid, then he can accept the refrigerator. David Sandlin in Idyllwild can perform this type of service for refrigerators, he said. Call him at (951) 659-2954.

“Some guys have taken the doors off of refrigerators, and even cut the cords, but as long as they have the chemical inside them, I cannot take them,” Ramon added.

On May 15, there will be another Idyllwild Area Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event at the County Road Yard located at 25780 Johnson Road. There, you can bring computers, old cans of paint, and other household hazardous materials to donate, without having to go to Lamb Canyon and pay a disposal fee. For more information, visit

“I would have taken the chairs, the TV and washer, but only if they were working,” said Karen, one of the owners of Earth Angels, a popular thrift store off Hwy. 243. For a small charge, they’ll even pick up those bulky items from your house in Idyllwild or Pine Cove. Call (951) 663-9044.

Riverside County has taken a stance against illegal dumping, and Code Enforcement patrols are en force everywhere, including Idyllwild. According to the Riverside County Waste Management web site,, illegal dumping can carry a fine up to $5,000 for individuals and up to $10,000 for commercial cases. They can even impound your vehicle for up to 30 days.

Illegally dumped mattress is close to Hwy. 74 up to Idyllwild

“Once people see items along the road, then they dump more there, and then it becomes a nuisance,” said the operator from the Riverside County Trash Task Force. She couldn’t cite a dollar amount for most illegal dumping cases here, because it depends upon the CHP officer’s hours.

To report illegal dumping in the Idyllwild area, call (951) 600-6140.

For proper disposal of your items, go to the Idyllwild Transfer Station located at 28100 Saunders Meadow Road. Daily operating hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It’s closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays and most holidays. Lamb Canyon is located at 16411 Lamb Canyon Road in Beaumont. It’s open from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and closed Sundays. However, it’s open on the first Sunday of the month.

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When Recycling Isn’t

February 1, 2010

By Marcia E. Gawecki

By all appearances, Idyllwild has the perfect set-up for recycling. Just down the street on Saunders Meadow, our transfer station offers recycling of bottles, cans, glass and even organic materials, such as leaves, twigs and branches. All you have to do is follow the signs and dump the organic recycling in the back. Yet, one local artist and activist recently discovered that not everything is recyclable.

“I called Waste Management, the company that runs our transfer station, and they told me that they’re not recycling our organic waste,” said Jessica Shiffman, an illustrator and activist living in Idyllwild. Originally, she had called to find out if she could use some of the organic material to help grow her own vegetables. Like other residents, she assumed it would be broken down, as compost, and returned to the earth, perhaps as mulch. The Waste Management representative told her that the organic materials are just dumped into the landfill along with rubber tires and everything else.

“So why have the appearances of a separate organic dumpsite in the back?” she asked them. “People think something is being done about that, being turned into compost or fertilizer or chipping material. It’s a real shame.”

That’s not the only local recycling disappointment. Jessica also found out that the Idyllwild Post Office doesn’t recycle papers that are put into the bins by residents.

“They can’t recycle letters and other mail because there’s legal and personal information on it,” she said. “To recycle it, they’d have to shred all the paper first. They don’t have the manpower or time for all that.”

So for those resident who stand in front of the bins at the post office every day to sort and toss mail, know that all that stuff is not being recycled. It will be thrown into the trash along with everything else.

“If people prefer to have their mail and other personal papers recycled, they should take it to the transfer station themselves,” Jessica suggested. “It’s up to them if they want to shred it first.”

On the upside, Jessica found out that certain plastic recycling, like those wrappers that cover meats and cheeses, are recyclable. “They told me that it doesn’t matter much if there’s a little foodstuff left on it,” Jessica said. “They prefer everything to be clean, but it’s OK to have a little residue on the plastic wrappers.”

Another surprise was that the black plastic containers that contain plants and trees are not recyclable. “It’s a different kind of plastic,” she said. “Apparently, it’s the wrong kind, and Waste Management said they can’t recycle it.”

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.