Small groups of volunteers have taken it upon themselves to clean up the desert. These groups of people, known as the Cactus Cleaners, have been doing a spectacular job since 2015. As of December, the Cactus Cleaners have hauled 210,895 pounds of trash, 8,226 tires, and 25 boats out of the desert surrounding Golden Valley. This is no small feat.
In addition to these volunteers, Mohave County also employs three Environmental Rural Area Cleanup Enforcement officers. Three officers for the fifth largest county area-wise isn’t exactly ideal for catching people dumping waste in the desert.
There are a lot of options for families and individuals to help reduce the amount of trash that ends up in the desert. First and foremost is simply following the curbside trash or recycling programs. For Kingman residents, it costs $19.78 per 90-gallon container a month. It’s also possible to have a 300-gallon shared container at the same rate.
The City of Kingman also offers a program called “extra trash.” The Sanitation Department will come to your residence and pick up items that will not fit in your container, (i.e., tree limbs, furniture, yard waste and some construction materials). The fee for this service is $15 for up to five cubic yards, and throughout the year including April, the city offers a reduced price for this service of $3.
Certain items cannot be picked up. This includes large dead animals, tires and hazardous waste, among others. These materials can be taken to the Cerbat Sanitary Landfill, where the minimum price for a load that is less than 300 pounds is $6.65. Prices for larger loads are based on the ton. For example, tires that aren’t considered program tires cost $36.80 per ton, and out of state tires cost $289.35 per ton. If tires are considered program tires, taking them to the landfill is free, but it is necessary to call Public Works to clarify if tires fit this program.
Individuals can make a difference. While a single person or family doesn’t generate enough waste, in general, they can participate in programs such as the citywide cleanup or national recycling programs. It means taking advantage of the bi-annual electronic recycling event hosted by the MC4 club from the Neal Campus, or donating clothes instead of throwing them away.
Certain products offer free recycling programs for consumers. There are hundreds of national recycling programs for people to be involved in from Hasbro toys to fabric care containers. These companies offer rewards to participants. There are plenty of companies that offer these programs and all of them can be found at terracycle.com.
However, it isn’t just individuals who make a difference. Local and county governments need to be involved to help stop people from dumping in the desert. We need more ERACE officers and stricter fines for those who are guilty. Providing fee waivers for certain materials or reducing the fees for some of the waste that goes through the landfill could also help by offering a few fee-reduction days like the City does.
The first step, though, would be to create more drop-off points. These could be in the form of community dumpsters or events where fees aren’t charged for dropping off certain items.
It could also be as simple as supporting and partnering with existing efforts. Kingman Public Works partners with Mohave Community College for the MC4 tech drive, so perhaps the county could sponsor a used tire drive. Having city or county officials present at these events, volunteering to smash hard drives or helping carry computers, showing their faces and their support of these initiatives can make all the difference.
The desert isn’t a dumping ground. Individuals can make a difference, but with support from the local governments, we can make an even bigger one.
It’s time everyone started doing their part.