Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful and its executive director, Christi Cakiroglu, are helping to coordinate the Great Truckee Meadows Community Cleanup on April 22 from 9 a.m. to noon, coinciding with Earth Day celebrations. For volunteer and other information, go to www.ktmb.org, or call 851-7185.
How long have you been involved with KTMB?
This was my fourth Christmas tree recycling, so it’s been a little over four years now. I mark [the years] with my Christmas tree recycling programs.
Did you implement those?
Oh God no. Christmas tree recycling’s been around since ‘91 or ‘93. KTMB’s been around since 1989. And it’s tough because nobody knows we’re here. We’re kind of like the little engine that could. I’m the only full-time staff … and we’re doing enough for three full-time staff.
What are some of your programs?
Christmas tree recycling is one. Phone book recycling, and then of course the neighborhood cleanups, the open space cleanups. We do Waste Warriors and paper-making workshops. We’ve got a program called the Litter Index. We’ve got Adopt-a-Spot and Adopt-a-Park. The Litter Index is our big event the week after this cleanup. That’s where we recruit volunteers to go around and survey the same areas in town we survey every year to see and rate how clean or how dirty it is. Based on that rating, we know if we’re targeting the right areas. It’s a subjective way of doing things, but at least it’s some way of trying to keep track.
Why did you start here?
I grew up here. I love this community. I love the mountains. I love the seasons, and I just think this community is so much fun, being able to work with volunteers.
Do you have a background in environmental science?
No. The degree you go for is not what you get; that’s the funny thing. KTMB is not the environmental organization; we’re more the community beautification organization. We care about aesthetics, how things are looking. Unfortunately, our open spaces right now are a little bit dirty. And that’s why this cleanup is so exciting to me. It’s helping to raise awareness about the problems we’re having with people dumping, and it gets people to take personal responsibility. I know they’ve raised the rates at Lockwood [Landfill], but there are ways to go in and dump things for free, and there are ways to dispose of these things properly.
What do people dump?
People will take cars up there, they take their appliances, they take their kitchen trash—they’ll take anything up there. What ends up happening is that all the stuff that’s dumped gets shot at, and it becomes a target practice. There’s this guy up in Golden Valley, and he helps to coordinate this big rodeo drive during the week of the Reno Rodeo, and all these people from around the world come to drive cattle into Reno from Golden Valley over the hills. And in the path of their doing that is all this garbage, and it’s really embarrassing.
What’s your favorite project?
To be honest, right now, this event, the Great Truckee Meadows Community Cleanup. It’s a lot of work, but I love the fact that we’re working with all the municipalities. I love that it’s not just Washoe County, City of Reno, City of Sparks. It’s also the United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. I love the fact that we have all these sponsors and supporters and partners and that volunteers are in droves signing up online and participating. I think this project especially is tapping into people’s desire to take care of the Truckee Meadows.