For 22 years, Bridget Johnson, owner of Green Girl Recycling, has been taking in recycling for Boulder County locals. In fact, she takes it to the Green Girl Recycling warehouse on South Sunset Avenue, tucked behind the Shell gas station at the intersection of South Sunset Avenue and Boston Avenue.
“We work with a lot of communities in Boulder, Weld and Larimer counties, and all the communities are jazzed about being greener,” Johnson said. “But there’s something organic here in Longmont, where people aren’t (recycling) because it’s trendy, just because it needs to be done.”
Johnson started in 1998, with a motorcycle trailer hooked up to the back of her car, picking up recycling along Sugarloaf Road and in Boulder County’s mountain communities. Since that time she’s grown the business to a fleet of trucks, ten employees and a recycling business that serves three counties.
The first truck Johnson bought for the business is still in the yard, though in need of repair. Johnson affectionately calls the truck Ol’ Whitey.
“I bought Ol’ Whitey from a church in Denver for around $3,000. I know it’s nothing to write home about right now, but we’ll make it absolutely gorgeous again,” Johnson said. “It’s so funny when people ask what I’m most proud of, it’s probably the fact that I was able to buy this truck back in the day when I had nothing.”
Recycling has been a part of Johnson’s life since childhood.
“I grew up on a farm in upstate New York, and we recycled everything. You composted it, or you burnt it or you recycled it. My grandmother repurposed everything,” Johnson said.
Johnson recalled an old baking tin passed down from her grandmother, that she still uses to this day for making tarts.
“I think we live in a world where everything is one-and-done, and it turns over so fast. I guess that pan represents why I’m so passionate about what I do,” Johnson said. “Sometimes the old things are the most important things, sometimes doing the right thing with something is the correct way to live your life.”
Johnson’s enthusiasm for recycling carries over in her staff. Brandon Wilkes started at Green Girl in December 2020 as a driver, and has worked his way up to operations manager in the short time since.
“I’d just recovered from the coronavirus, and I found Bridget. Our first interview was like two-and-a-half hours, I knew that this was the place I needed to be,” Wilkes said. “She hired me as a driver, then one thing led to another, and I started learning all this cool stuff in the warehouse.”
Green Girl offers residential and commercial services, including scheduled pick ups. The body of their business is paper shredding and recycling electronic waste. Everything is secure, and privacy for documents and computers includes partner agencies that erase any confidential data. Paper is shredded into bales, 1200 lbs each, and the bales are sent off to mills for pulping.
“A hundred percent of this paper is not only destroyed correctly, but then it's turned right back into recycled products,” Johnson said.
Green Girl also takes in books from a variety of library districts in the area that are taken out of circulation. When the books are older or have some minor damages, Green Girl partners with companies that will send them to underdeveloped countries to bolster their libraries.
“We always say if you can plug it, or if it has a battery, we can recycle it,” Johnson said.
Johnson showed off bins and shelves of computers, monitors, keyboards and other technology in varying states of disrepair. Low-end technology, like old cathode ray tube TVsand monitors, cost a fee to cover the cost of being safely dismantled for repurposing and recycling. High-end technology like desktop computers and laptops are taken in for free, along with wiring and circuit boards, because Johnson can turn around and sell them for a slight profit whole or in parts.
Johnson and her team of ten want to make recycling easy for Longmont and surrounding communities. The Green Girl website has a full list of their services, as well as printable guides for businesses. Curious Longmont residents are encouraged to reach out any time.