Sustainability

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In June 2018, the Sustainable Wheat Ridge (SWR) Committee published recommendations to enhance the environmental sustainability of Wheat Ridge, provide strong financial returns, and bring substantial benefits to public health, community cohesion, and livability.

Our goal of this page is to provide a platform for residents to engage with the Sustainable Wheat Ridge resident advisory committee and city staff regarding sustainability topics in Wheat Ridge. We will be updating this page regularly with new topics, resources and programs and will utilize resident feedback to inform the development of future sustainability program offerings. We look forward to hearing from the community!

The six focus areas of Sustainable Wheat Ridge are:

Green Building and Energy Efficiency

Renewable Energy

Solid Waste and Recycling

Transportation

Water

Communications and Engagement

Join the conversation by engaging with the tools below!

In June 2018, the Sustainable Wheat Ridge (SWR) Committee published recommendations to enhance the environmental sustainability of Wheat Ridge, provide strong financial returns, and bring substantial benefits to public health, community cohesion, and livability.

Our goal of this page is to provide a platform for residents to engage with the Sustainable Wheat Ridge resident advisory committee and city staff regarding sustainability topics in Wheat Ridge. We will be updating this page regularly with new topics, resources and programs and will utilize resident feedback to inform the development of future sustainability program offerings. We look forward to hearing from the community!

The six focus areas of Sustainable Wheat Ridge are:

Green Building and Energy Efficiency

Renewable Energy

Solid Waste and Recycling

Transportation

Water

Communications and Engagement

Join the conversation by engaging with the tools below!

  • Sustainability Spotlight - September 2022 - Leave Your Leaves!

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    According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, leaves and other yard debris account for more than 13 percent of the nation’s solid waste. Without enough oxygen to decompose, this organic matter releases methane, a very harmful greenhouse gas.

    One of the most valuable things you can do to reduce the effects of methane emissions from yard waste as well as to support pollinators and other invertebrates, is to leave your fall yard waste in place.

    One of the next most valuable things you can do to support pollinators and other invertebrates is to provide them with the winter cover they need in the form of fall leaves and standing dead plant material. It may be habitual, a matter of social conditioning, or a holdover of outdated gardening practices from yesteryear—but for whatever reason, we just can’t seem to help ourselves from wanting to tidy up the garden at the end of the season—raking, mowing, and blowing away a bit of nature that is essential to the survival of moths, butterflies, snails, spiders, and dozens of arthropods.

    The vast majority of butterflies and moths overwinter in the landscape as an egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, or adult. These butterflies use leaf litter for winter cover. Great spangled fritillary and wooly bear caterpillars tuck themselves into a pile of leaves for protection from cold weather and predators. Red-banded hairstreaks lay their eggs on fallen oak leaves, which become the first food of the caterpillars when they emerge. Luna moths and swallowtail butterflies disguise their cocoons and chrysalises as dried leaves, blending in with the “real” leaves. Examples go on and on!


    National Wildlife Federation has this advice to help the planet, your soil, as well as our pollinators:

    • Let leaves stay where they fall. They won't hurt your lawn if you chop them with a mulching mower.

    • Rake leaves off the lawn to use as mulch in garden beds. For finer-textured mulch, shred them first.

    • Let leaf piles decompose; the resulting leaf mold can be used as a soil amendment to improve structure and water retention.

    • Make compost: Combine fallen leaves (“brown material”) with grass clippings and other “green material” and keep moist and well mixed. You’ll have nutrient-rich compost to add to your garden next spring.

    • Build a brush shelter. Along with branches, sticks and stems, leaves can be used to make brush piles that shelter native wildlife.

    • Still too many leaves? Share them with neighbors, friends, schools and others. Some communities will pick up leaves and make compost to sell or give away. Many neighborhoods in Wheat Ridge are offering a compost yard waste pick up service, so watch for those announcements!

  • Sustainability Spotlight - August 2022 - Make Your Next Vehicle an Electric Vehicle

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    Have you thought about making your next vehicle purchase an electric vehicle (EV)? Choosing an EV lowers your carbon footprint now and will lower it even more so in the future. Today when you charge an EV, you are probably using electricity partially produced with coal and natural gas. In the future as utilities move away from carbon-producing generation, your car will more likely be charged with power generated from renewable resources such as wind and solar.

    How can you improve your carbon footprint today? Choose to charge your car when renewable energy is more available. In Colorado that is frequently in the middle of the night when wind generation is high and power usage is low. If your car doesn’t need a full charge, you may be able to schedule your car to start charging after everyone has gone to bed, power usage is low, and renewable power is more abundant.

    Are you concerned that your new vehicle’s battery will run out when you are on the road? Range anxiety is a common concern. Newer EVs have larger batteries which allow for more road miles before requiring to be recharged, lessening range anxiety. Most people will do 90% of their charging at home, because it is easy, convenient, and likely the cheapest way to charge. After purchasing an EV, owners quickly learn to adjust their thinking from filling up once every couple of weeks to simply plugging in when they arrive home several times a week or maybe even every night. Charging at night and on the weekends at home will provide you with the least expensive electricity.

    But what about a road trip? Many new vehicles can help you map out your trip and can identify charging locations; apps are also available with the same information. More chargers are being installed every day. Check out the tentative plans for Colorado. Remember, what may seem like a concern today will disappear as more charging stations are built out over the next few years.

    When you are out searching for a vehicle be sure to research a few unique items for EVs.

    Is it a hybrid or battery-only EV? A hybrid vehicle has both a battery and a motor set up along with the traditional engine that runs when the battery runs out. These vehicles have a small battery that is typically good for an average commute. They save on gas, but the maintenance and headaches of an internal combustion engine still exist. A battery-only electric vehicle runs on a battery and motor(s). This design is much simpler with less moving parts, so maintenance headaches are greatly diminished.

    Learn what the maximum mileage range of the vehicle is. Will that work with your driving habits for this vehicle? Super chargers are being installed more frequently. Today these are most frequently found along the interstate system and are being strategically placed so you can always have a charger within reach. These chargers, also called level 3 chargers or Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFC’s), charge at a high rate and can have you charged up in 20 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the battery, the capability of the super charger, and the capability of the vehicle. Battery sizes are increasing, super charger sizes are increasing and ability for cars to handle larger chargers is increasing. In addition, many chargers are conveniently located near restrooms, convenience stores, and restaurants.

    You’ll also need to learn how long it will take to charge at home. Electric vehicles can be charged with alternating current, normal household power, using a charger and the car’s onboard charger that converts the alternating current to direct current. Charging time will depend on the size of battery, the charger’s capability, and the vehicle’s on-board charging capabilities. The speed of charging will be limited by the smaller of the charger capability and the vehicles on board charger capability. Many people will want to invest in a level 2 charger that uses a 240 Volt outlet, similar to a dryer outlet. These chargers typically charge a vehicle in 3-8 hours. Work by an electrician is likely needed along with the purchase of a charger.

    Another charging option is just using your typical 120 Volt outlet or a level 1 charger. This won’t charge the EV very fast, but if you plan on plugging in every night and on the weekends, this may do the trick for you. This is always an option if you are visiting friends or family and you want to plug-in but they don’t have a level 2 charger.

    Finally, be sure to check out and understand existing Federal and State Tax Credits and credits being considered in Congress right now for starting in 2023, as well as a few other resources:

    • This Consumer Guide to Electric Vehicles is published by the Electric Power Research Institute, can provide you with an understanding of range availability for most electric vehicles available today along with the expected different charge times and also has links to many other sources.
    • The Department of Energy also provides a quick guide to understanding how long and how much it costs to charge an electric vehicle.
  • Paint Recycling Event - Saturday, July 30!

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    Join us next Saturday for the 2nd Annual Paint Recycling Event!

    The City of Wheat Ridge, the Sustainable Neighborhood Network, and GreenSheen will host a paint recycling event on Saturday, July 30 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Anderson Park located at 4355 Field Street in Wheat Ridge. This drive-thru event is FREE; however, voluntary donations will be accepted and these funds will benefit the Sustainable Neighborhood Network and community sustainability projects.

    Products Accepted: Oil, acrylic and latex paints, stains, shellacs, lacquers, sealers, varnishes, urethanes

    Products Not Accepted: Aerosol (spray) paint, paint thinner, solvents, cleaning agents, adhesives, drywall mud, roof patch

  • Sustainability Spotlight - July 2022 - Go Green With Your Yard

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    You may notice more planting variety in yards around Wheat Ridge as residents swap traditional turf lawns for more interesting, low maintenance and locally appropriate options. Traditional turf lawns are not native to Colorado and therefore require significant water, synthetic chemicals, and constant mowing to maintain a desired look. Instead, residents are happily discovering that locally appropriate options are much easier to maintain and offer significant savings in water, time, and cost. If you’re interested in making a change, here are some options:


    Clover Lawn:

    If you still want to keep the look of a green lawn without the hassle of constant watering and mowing, consider adding clover to your lawn. Clover not only stays green year-round, it also takes nitrogen from the air and fixes it into the soil, acting as an integral fertilizer and naturally improving the soil. Additionally, it is not affected by pet urine, resists blight and mildew, does not need herbicides or pesticides and rarely needs to be mowed.

    Note that there are several different varieties of clover so be sure to do a bit of homework to determine which is best for you. While Dutch White Clover is the most common, some other varietals like Microclover can better stand up to the wear and tear of heavy foot traffic. To start a clover lawn, simply add clover seed to your existing lawn a little bit at a time after mowing. The clover will mix with the turf and may eventually take over completely. To achieve a faster result, you can also add clover seed during the core aeration process or after digging up your lawn.


    Native Plants:

    If you would like to add more variety to your yard, remove portions of your lawn altogether and replace them with native plants. According to CSU Extension’s Sustainable Landscape Master Program, native plants will live longer with much less maintenance than non-native plants and turf. They require little water, restore balance with our natural insect population, foster pollinators and replace some of the native habitat that has been lost with development. As a bonus, they additionally create a sense of place, helping our neighborhoods reflect our unique Western location.

    Fortunately, there are great resources available to help you get a professional look without the research. The Garden in a Box program through Resource Central provides a variety of waterwise native plant kits tailor-made for Colorado yards that have been curated by experts from the Botanic Gardens and CSU Extension Office. Every Fall and Spring, they come out with new offerings and provide plant-by-number maps, seasonal maintenance suggestions and watering instructions. Boxes are currently on sale for pickup in late August or early September. Wheat Ridge Residents can get a $25 rebate through the City of Wheat Ridge while supplies last through the Resource Central website.

  • Sustainability Spotlight - June 2022 - The Colorado Safety Stop: A New Law for Bicyclists at Intersections

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    The Colorado Safety Stop is a statewide safety-enhancing policy that allows bicyclists to perform a “safety stop” at intersections by treating stop signs as yield signs and treating stop lights as stop signs when the intersection is clear and they have the right of way.


    What is the Colorado Safety Stop?

    • Bicyclists can yield and then proceed through stop sign-controlled intersections at up to 10 miles per hour. Younger bicyclists (under age 15) must be accompanied by an adult to perform this maneuver.
    • Bicyclists can make a complete stop at a stop light and then proceed through an intersection on a red light if there is no oncoming cross traffic or crossing pedestrians. Left turns onto any two-way streets are exempted under the new law.
    • Intersections with bicyclist-specific lights or signs that prohibit the maneuver are exempt from The Colorado Safety Stop.

    This law applies to small profile, low-speed vehicles that people use for transportation and recreation, including bicycles and electric bicycles, electric scooters (not including mopeds), and wheelchairs.

    With nearly 3/4 of all bicycle-driver crashes occurring at intersections, the Safety Stop helps to prevent crashes between bicyclists and drivers where they happen the most. Other states have proven that getting bicyclists out of intersections faster reduces crashes. For example, Idaho saw a nearly 15% bicycle-driver crash reduction in the year after adopting the Safety Stop, while Delaware saw a 23% drop bicycle-driver crashes in the 30 months after adopting the bill compared to the 30 months before adopting the bill.

    It is good for both bicyclists and drivers to be aware of this new safe and legal option for bicyclists to proceed through intersections. As we enter the summer months and as gas prices rise, more people ride bicycles. One of the most efficient and environmentally friendly modes of self-powered transportation, bicycle riding minimizes fossil fuel use, reduces pollution, and promotes health and well-being.


    For more information on the Colorado Safety Stop:

    https://www.codot.gov/safety/traffic-safety-pulse/2022/may/all-about-the-colorado-safety-stop

    https://www.codot.gov/safety/traffic-safety-pulse/2022/may/assets/safety-stop-pamphlet-final.pdf

    https://www.bicyclecolorado.org/get-involved/take-action/current-issues/

    https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2022A/bills/2022a_1028_rer.pdf


    June Sustainability Updates:

    The Fall Garden In A Box Sale begins on June 21! The City of Wheat Ridge is offering $25 discounts to the first 20 residents to purchase a garden kit. Fall is a great time to plant and a fantastic way to enjoy the cooler temperatures. These garden kits are expected to sell out quickly, so make sure to get your order in once the sale starts! Shop today at ResourceCentral.org/Gardens

  • Garden In A Box Fall Sale Begins June 21!

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    Get your yard in shape this fall! The City of Wheat Ridge has partnered with Resource Central again to offer the Garden in a Box program. The City of Wheat Ridge is offering $25 discounts to the first 20 residents that purchase a Garden in a Box for the fall sale on the Resource Central website. Fall-planted perennials have less transplant shock, develop healthy roots faster, and may use less water during establishment. Not to mention the huge debut they make their first spring. Gardens go on sale on June 21, 2022 and are expected to sell out quickly, so make sure to get your order in when they open!

    To take advantage of the $25 discount, Wheat Ridge residents need to select “City of Wheat Ridge” from the drop-down menu during the Garden in a Box purchase process. During the ordering process residents will also choose the closest and most convenient pickup location. Options include Arvada and Denver locations; the addresses, times and dates will appear on the website when residents make their garden purchase.

  • Sustainability Spotlight - May 2022 - Grow a Garden…for Your Neighbor!

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    By: Laura McGarry, Sustainable Wheat Ridge member


    While many of the food shortages brought on by the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic have subsided, too many people are still struggling with food insecurity. In fact, according to Hunger Free Colorado 33% of Coloradans report that they are food insecure, and 44% of Colorado households with children report struggling to have regular access to nutritious food. Unfortunately, these are not just statewide statistics, with three Elementary Schools in Wheat Ridge having over 80% of students who qualify for the free and reduced-price lunch program.



    What can we do about food insecurity in Wheat Ridge?

    If you’re a gardener living in Wheat Ridge, there is something that you can do to address local food insecurity—grow extra food in your garden to donate! Whether you are a new or seasoned gardener, 2022 is a great year to grow more food, knowing that you can donate to your neighbors in need.



    How to donate your extra garden veggies:

    • Step 1: Download the Fresh Food Connect App: Sign up as a gardener living in 80033.
    • Step 2: Grow lots of food!
    • Step 3: Donate your extra produce: Follow the donation instructions on the Fresh Food Connect app. and you’ll be able to donate extra produce in Wheat Ridge. The current drop-off site is the Family Tree located at 38th and Marshall. All food donated to the Family Tree is donated to families living in their shelter.


    Why use an app to donate food?

    Sustainable Wheat Ridge partnered with Fresh Food Connect to support food donations in Wheat Ridge for a few reasons:

    1. We hope to have more donation sites in the future, and the app is a one-stop shop for gardeners in Wheat Ridge to find information on these sites.
    2. The app helps Sustainable Wheat Ridge gather data about the food being donated; this data can be shared to gather more support for the program in the future.
    3. Using the app makes it easy for gardeners to track what they are donating—you get to collect and see your own donation data!


    I want to learn how to garden:

    Check out these awesome local gardening resources:

  • Sustainability Spotlight - April 2022 - Jefferson County Open Space Trails Partnership Program Grant Awarded to Wheat Ridge for Improvements to Clear Creek Trail and Bicycle Wayfinding Signage

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    As the weather warms up, pedestrians, cyclists, rollerbladers and skateboarders are becoming more numerous on Wheat Ridge’s parks and trails. Users of these facilities will experience an improvement to trails and wayfinding signage thanks to a grant recently won by the City of Wheat Ridge (CoWR). The Jeffco Open Space (JCOS) Trails Partnership Program is a grant program that provides supplemental funding to assist partners in implementing their priority trail projects within Jefferson County.

    The CoWR applied for and won the Trails Partnership Program grant from JCOS in February of 2022. The two organizations will work together to plan and implement more than $200,000 of improvements with work slated to be completed by February 2024, specifically

    • Replacing the 1,187 foot-long, currently asphalt trail section between Prospect Park and the West Bridge (south of Tabor Lake) with 10’-wide concrete

    • Replacing damaged concrete segments and improve the trailhead connection at the Otis St. trailhead and connection trail

    • Adding Wheat Ridge Greenbelt, Peaks to Plains (P2P), and Jefferson County Bikeway wayfinding and mileage signage, general safety signage, and other trail safety improvements.

    The ultimate vision of planners is the development of the Peaks to Plains Trail, which through 65 miles of dedicated paved trail will connect downtown Denver to Loveland Pass, with Wheat Ridge situated at the core.

    Cycling is not only a means of transportation, but can be great for your health. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center highlights that it is a low impact activity and easy on your joints, builds muscle, relieves stress and can help you maintain a healthy weight. Many medical studies have shown that regular physical activity reduces anxiety and depression. You don’t have to wear spandex and spend thousands of dollars on equipment to reap these benefits. Commuters will enjoy the plethora of bike lanes within Wheat Ridge that connect to surrounding communities such as Pierce St or 32nd Ave. Hobbyists and those less comfortable with traffic will enjoy the dedicated paved trails, the crown jewel of which is the Clear Creek Trail. The trail hugs Clear Creek (all road crossings are via safe underpasses) as it connects Golden to Adams and Denver County trails via a well maintained, continuous paved trail. In between, trail users can find spurs for downtown Wheat Ridge, Olde Town Arvada, Midtown, Edgewater or the Tennyson business district. Link up with the RTD G-Line to expand your no car transportation options even further!

    For more information and maps of these trails, visit www.bicyclecolorado.org/ride-colorado/bike-maps-resources/

    https://www.rtd-denver.com/services/rail/rail-system-map



  • Sustainability Spotlight - March 2022 - When It Comes to Garden Clean Up, Procrastination Has Many Benefits

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    Winter is waning, and on the first warm days of early spring, we might be tempted to get out the rake, lawnmower, or pruners. However, consider a little procrastination. It will be easier on your back and help struggling bumblebees and other native pollinators.

    In fall, bumblebee colonies come to their natural end, and newly-mated queens hibernate underground, protected by blankets of vegetation or leaf litter. Leaving logs, leaves, compost heaps, and ground vegetation undisturbed for a few more weeks will protect sleeping queens until they are awakened by rising temperatures.

    Many moths and butterflies also overwinter under cover of garden litter. Other critters from salamanders, toads to turtles, birds, and mammals rely on leaf litter for food, shelter, and nesting material.

    Leaving leaves in your garden also means you get free fertilizer and mulch—better than you buy. Tree roots draw over a dozen plant nutrients up from the soil and deposit them in leaves. Expensive bags of store fertilizer usually have only three essential nutrients. Decomposing leaves also improve soil structure so that it absorbs and holds more moisture.

    Need another reason to leave that rake in the garage? Yard debris sent to landfills can end up as a greenhouse gas. In a landfill, buried organic matter undergoes anaerobic decomposition releasing methane. Landfills are a significant source of man-made methane. Even if your yard debris is taken to a composting facility, carbon dioxide is generated by cars and trucks used for transport.

    So be lazy this spring; leave those leaves in your garden beds. Your yard will be greener, with fewer weeds, and you just might see more bees, birds, and other wildlife. If you can’t resist a date with a rake, wait until late spring and mulch that garden gold into your lawn using a mulching mower.

    Further Reading

    To learn more about bumblebee habitat visit https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org

    Read a blog about Leave the Leaves to Benefit Wildlife

    Learn more about Nesting & Overwintering Habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects

    Wondering what to do in spring? Don’t spring into garden cleanup too soon!

    More about Sustainable Wheat Ridge

    Sustainable Wheat Ridge is a resident-led committee that was established in 2018 to provide the city with recommendations to enhance the environmental sustainability of Wheat Ridge. Included in these recommendations are goals around preserving Wheat Ridge’s agricultural history, improving energy and water efficiency practices, and establishing partnerships to support local food production. Check out the full Sustainable Wheat Ridge action plan here!

  • Sustainability Spotlight - February 2022 - Coloradans, Our State is Too Beautiful to Waste

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    When you picture your home in Colorado, do you think of mountain vistas, wide prairies, and sparkling creeks? Do you think of fresh air, sunny skies, and clear starry nights? Maybe you think of prairie dogs, coyotes, mule deer, elk and magpies? So what actions will you take to protect our colorful Colorado?

    Colorado is beautiful, but it is also trashy. Over 84% of items we bring into our homes we send to Colorado’s landfills, which is higher than the national average of around 68%. Some landfill use may be unavoidable, but we should plan for the landfill as the last option, as these facilities have challenges. Here’s a list of a few landfill limitations:

    • Large source of greenhouse gas emissions
    • Emit gasses that decrease air quality for people who live nearby
    • Leak waste into groundwater
    • Expensive to manage and build
    • Limited years of operation and space (30-50 years) – landfills serving Wheat Ridge opened in the 1980s and 1990s
    • Not best use for land – average landfill is 600 acres
    • Social, environmental, financial impacts

    So, let’s take steps to manage our waste with two important steps:

    1. Waste reduction (preventing unnecessary waste in the first place)
    2. Waste diversion (keeping most items out of the landfill).

    Waste reduction is something that we all can help control. It includes reusing home goods and reducing what we buy. It can sometimes require extra effort, like bringing a napkin and silverware out with you or bringing grocery and produce bags. But, it is worth the extra effort to preserve what we love about Colorado’s natural beauty.

    Waste diversion, including recycling, can be challenging in Wheat Ridge. It includes composting food scraps and leaves, recycling glass and cans, or bringing Styrofoam blocks to a hard-to-recycle center.

    Hopefully, the resources below can help your household take steps to reduce waste and limit what goes to the landfill.

    A simple first step is to identify what you are throwing out, what you are already keeping out of the landfill, and where you need support/resources.

    Take Action

    Join a waste reduction challenge for residents of Wheat Ridge.

    • Step 1: Take stock of what you’re throwing out through a home waste audit using our handy waste audit guide.
    • Step 2: Share your findings from your audit.
    • Step 3: Pledge how you plan to reduce your waste this month!

    Visit our Solid Waste & Recycling webpage on the Wheat Ridge City website to watch a short video guide on conducting an audit! We’ve also posted the directions for how to conduct the home waste audit and where you can share your findings and pledge.

    Become a #WasteWarrior and commit to using the #LandfillLast.

    For those who aren’t ready to take the plunge on the home waste audit idea without some more background, let’s talk. You might be surprised with what you find, and we encourage you to share data and feedback in our waste audit survey.

    Check out the Wheat Ridge Recycling Resource Guide to find where you can recycle all sorts of hard-to-recycle items like electronics, Styrofoam, bike parts and mattresses!

    Remember the 5 R’s:

    REFUSE - Don’t buy or accept products that are harmful to the environment, or that you don’t need.

    REDUCE - Use less.

    REUSE & REPURPOSE - Use something you already have instead of buying new. Examples include refillable water bottles, reusable coffee mugs, and reusable grocery bags.

    Use something for other than its original purpose. Get crafty! Examples include using GOOS (Good On One Side) paper from home or office that only has print on one side for scrap paper, or think of all the incredible ways you’ve seen people utilize pallets.

    RECYCLE - Then, after you’ve done ALL the other Rs, consider how to recycle nearly everything you use: paper, plastic, metal, glass, electronics, clothing, and even food and yard waste can be recycled through composting.

    February Sustainability Updates

    • The City of Wheat Ridge is partnering with Resource Central to bring the popular Garden in a Box program back for 2022. The first 100 Wheat Ridge residents who purchase a qualifying garden from Resource Central will be offered a $25 discount. Sales of the gardens begin March 1, 2022, on the Resource Central website.

    More about Sustainable Wheat Ridge

    Sustainable Wheat Ridge is a resident-led committee that was established in 2018 to provide the city with recommendations to enhance the environmental sustainability of Wheat Ridge. Included in these recommendations are goals around preserving Wheat Ridge’s agricultural history, improving energy and water efficiency practices, and establishing partnerships to support local food production. Check out the full Sustainable Wheat Ridge action plan here!

Page last updated: 15 Sep 2022, 05:14 PM