What a dump

Illegal dumping enrages community members

Christi Cakiroglu and Jamie Souza look into an illegal dump site in a ravine near Stead.

Christi Cakiroglu and Jamie Souza look into an illegal dump site in a ravine near Stead.


To find out where to recycle or dispose of unwanted items, visit Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful's Recycling Guide here http://ktmb.org/truckee-meadows-recycling-guide/.

Frayed couches arranged into a fort. Bags of yard clippings. An old television with a smashed in screen. Bald tires scattered all over the place. An empty pill bottle with a little girl’s doll just a few feet away.

These items all can be stumbled over, as Christi Cakiroglu, executive director of Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB), walks through the biggest illegal dumpsite she has ever seen. The site is just north of Reno, at a partially completed, abandoned housing development in Stead.

Cakiroglu explained how she is maddened by illegal dump sites for many reasons, one of these being the lack of thought people put into their purchases. She is particularly angered by a Christmas tree discarded at another site in Stead for this reason and because KTMB does a Christmas tree recycling event each year.

“If you’re going to buy a Christmas tree, you know you’re going to have to get rid of it at some point, right?” Cakiroglu said. “So where’s the planning in that? It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Cakiroglu also urges people to try to contribute less to the overall amount of trash we discard daily, whether it is recycled correctly or not. She said that when she started at KTMB 10 years ago, there were 4.4 pounds of trash being thrown away per person per day and now that number has increased to 7.1 pounds.

In order to try to reduce this number, Cakiroglu and Jamie Souza, KTMB’s program manager, try to think about the amount of packaging connected to their purchases and buy items with less. For example, Cakiroglu noted that many types of toothpaste are sold in boxes, which are unnecessary.

“Recycling is great,” Cakiroglu said. “I’m a huge proponent of it. That’s what we need to be doing. But we also need to be consuming less. That’s that whole reduce in the ’reduce, reuse, recycle’ process.”

This is especially important, according to Cakiroglu, because at this time, the people of the Reno area are only able to recycle plastic containers with openings that are smaller than the container itself.

Souza stated that, although disposing of products correctly may cost more, it is something that we must do for our society and future generations.

“The underlying issue is that people don’t have an ethic of care for their community, for the environment,” Souza said. “That’s where it has to start. People have to find a reason to take pride in the land itself, and it seems like we’re lacking that today more than we ever have.”

Cakiroglu agreed with this statement and added that members of the community need to change their attitudes toward purchasing and disposal.

“We have to get into the mentality, as a society, that when we purchase something, our responsibility does not end with recycling the boxes they come in and paying off the Visa bill,” Cakiroglu said. “It’s what we do with it when it dies or when we don’t need it anymore.”

Although she said that the overall amount of illegal dumping in the community has decreased since she first began at KTMB, she said it is still unacceptable. In order to help out with the illegal dumping problem, KTMB holds events throughout the year. One of which is their Great Community Clean-up event that will take place on May 11 this year, where volunteers will pick up trash or remove invasive weeds at 12 different sites in the area.