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Green Achers

A vicious recycle on the 16th Street Mall

The DNC rumors keep flying. Protesters are going to fling feces at the cops (for more on that, see page 13). Some delegations will be staying as far away as Wyoming. And in the city that wants to host the greenest convention ever, you can't even recycle a Gatorade bottle on the 16th Street Mall.

Truth is, you can recycle plastic bottles on the mall, no matter what anybody tells you, even if that anybody is wearing one of those god-awful Denver mall ambassador vests and shaking his finger at you as you try to deposit an empty plastic bottle in one of the ten yellow recycling receptacles that were installed along 16th Street two months ago. "It only took twenty years, but we finally got them," joked Josh Davies, the affable Go the Extra Mile coach at Saturday's training for Convention volunteers. But also true: You can't recycle anything at all past Larimer Street, where this "demonstration project" ends.

When an audience member at Saturday's DNC community forum complained that someone on the mall had said he couldn't recycle his Gatorade bottle there, one of the city's representatives told him that didn't sound right. Because although the project is run by the Downtown Denver Partnership (and paid for by the downtown Denver Business Improvement District), everything collected from those receptacles goes to Denver Recycles, a city-run operation, and anything a homeowner can dump in a purple bin should be recyclable on the mall, too.

And people have been dumping plenty in those receptacles. In June, the Partnership collected 53 bags of recyclables, all consolidated and held for a pick-up by Denver Recycles. Depending on how the program progresses through the summer, the Partnership would like to expand it into other parts of downtown, says Sarah Neumann, the group's communications manager, and perhaps extend it into LoDo. But no matter what, lower downtown will still be a vast recycling wasteland when the DNC hits the streets next month.

Still, you can recycle plastic bottles on the right parts of the 16th Street Mall. But really, why are you tossing out a plastic bottle at all? In this city that wants to host the greenest convention ever, everyone is encouraged to hold on to their water bottles — the DNC host committee has found a sponsor that will provide delegates with their own souvenir bottles, and continues to hunt for a sponsor who will donate bottles for the volunteers — and fill them up at one of the water wagons the city will set up downtown during the convention.

Fill them up with good, clear, Denver water. It may not save the daisies, but it should work for you. — Calhoun

 
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