The 2016 Christmas tree entry to the Festival of Trees, sponsored by your Southwest Organization for Sustainability (SOS), was named Simplicity.  It draws awareness to over consumption, as well as the use of plastics, for bottled water, in particular.

The funds earned from this tree are earmarked for an Earth Week banner (estimated at $400 to $500) to hang over Hot Springs Boulevard.

Did you know that:

  • Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year.  However, the U.S.’s recycling rate for plastic is only 23%, which means 38 billion water bottles (more than $1 billion worth of plastic) are wasted each year.
  • Last year, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles but only recycled 38.
  • The recommended eight glasses of water a day, at U.S. tap water rates, equals about $.49 per year; that same amount of bottled water is about $1,400.

SOS’s simple little Christmas tree was made with more than 300 plastic water bottles and is lit with 3 strands of solar-powered LED lights.  The additional materials to construct it, including the beautiful snowflake topper, were donated.


Waste, PAPER, Plastics, and Recycling Factoids

Global waste is on pace to triple by 2100! A recent World Bank report projected that the amount of solid waste generated globally will nearly double by 2025, going from 3.5 million tons to 6 million tons—per day. And we likely won’t hit peak garbage—the moment when our global trash production hits its highest rate, then levels off—until after 2100, when we will produce 11 million tons of trash per day.

Global consumption of paper has grown 400 percent in the last 40 years. Nearly 4 billion trees or 35 percent of the total trees cut around the world are used in paper industries. Currently, the world consumes about 300 million tons of paper each year. The US, which accounts for 5% of the global population, uses 30% of all paper. In addition, since the 1950s, we have discarded 1,000,000,000 (one billion) tons of plastic globally. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, American’s discarded 32 million tons of plastic waste in 2011. Yet, only eight percent was recovered for recycling.

So What’s the Problem?

To produce paper takes twice the energy used to produce a plastic bag. In the case of paper, it also involves cutting down trees, which contributes to deforestation. Globally, about 42% of all wood harvest is used to make paper. The problem with plastics, besides the vast amount of resources (e.g., energy, water, etc.) needed to produce them, is that they do not biodegrade. There are no natural processes in place that can absorb plastic back into the biological cycle. So, they last for decades, centuries, and possibly forever. In other words, everlasting litter! Therefore, plastics need to be specially disposed of. They must be collected, treated, and RECYCLED!

The Answer?

Besides recycling, simply say ‘NO’ to unnecessary packaging and plastic and you can cut your pile of trash almost completely. The answer—REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE, AND RECYCLE! We can and must do better and Pagosa Springs residents can lead the way!


Recycle Collection:
Batteries, CFL’s, and ink cartridges are collected at SOS community events and the Farmers Market and recycled or disposed in an environmentally safe way.

Archuleta County Transfer Station:
With the addition of single stream collection and a baler, the county is revising sorting requirements for recycling. Watch for updates.


Recycling begins in the home. As with most materials we purchase, disposal is an issue.

Aluminum cans are almost pure aluminum and are smelted back into aluminum sheeting to make more cans. Aluminum cans are said to be one of the fastest turnaround in the recycling industry taking only 3 days from recycling container to on the shelf at your local store with a new product.

Cardboard can be used in making several products such as sheet rock backing, new cardboard, shingles, cellulose insulation or shipped to China for reuse.

Plastics are used in making some clothing, carpets, reused in plastic manufacturing, as a fuel source, or products for construction such as decking or fence posts.

Paper and or paper products are reprocessed into new paper products  of a new form, such as paper towels or toilet paper.

By recycling, the material keeps getting used over and over rather than the other option of becoming trash that has  to be landfilled and will not be used again.

Keep up to date on community recycling on Facebook (???)


Earth Week logo

A new logo has been developed in honor of Earth Week and is available to other organizations for printing on t-shirts, shopping bags, etc.  Contact SOS for details.Earth Week logo