Heather Haffener

In the world of regenerative tourism and destination management, it’s a word that makes tourism towns shutter with fear. Carbondale, however, is lucky. They have Heather Haffener, Territory Manager for Mountain Waste & Recycling, on their side.

Heather moved to the Roaring Fork Valley in March of 2020, and shortly thereafter began her role as the key messenger for all things waste around Carbondale. One of her first missions centered around plastics and recycling. As a result of the Washington Posts reporting of China no longer taking plastics from the US, many residents around the Roaring Fork Valley (and all throughout the country) deemed it unnecessary to recycle their plastics. As Heather explained, this story was true for national marketings, but not smaller, localized marketings.

Ya know, places like Carbondale.

The Roaring Fork Valley is a relatively closed valley – both geographically and economically. As such, most recycling stays within the region and becomes part of its circular economy. It is Heather’s job to build educational programming pieces for HOAs and marketing elements for hotels in the area that teach the importance of proper waste disposal. Namely, what happens to trash once it is picked up and how efforts are focused on diversion away from landfills. 

One great example is cardboard. Cardboard recycled in Carbondale is taken to South Canyon Landfill, where it is mulched. From there, a portion of this mulch goes back to restaurants through the mountains and Western Slope where it can be used for grease traps. From a composting perspective, Pitkin County has a composting machine that can compost virtually all organic material. With a three month turnaround time, and can be used residentially and commercially as landscaping and paving materials. 

Mountain Waste & Recycling also offers commercial composting and services to large events such as JAS Aspen, X Games, and Food & Wine, all of which are part of the tourism backbone of the Roaring Fork Valley tourism landscape.

Though Carbnodale is located outside of Pitkin County, the town has developed contracts with their neighboring county to assist with its compost. This is a great example of communities utilizing their infrastructure collectively for the betterment of the state. 

But how does this all relate back to tourism?

One of the seven Care For Colorado Leave No Trace Principles relates specifically to garbage in the realm of tourism. As their website reads: “Pack in the beautiful views by packing out the trash and leaving a place better than you found it. And make sure not to forget the peels and cores. Just because it’s good for you, doesn’t mean it’s good for the wildlife.”

Another core component of trash, and one that is near and dear to Carbondale residents, is dog poop. Carbondale Tourism has designed a campaign specifically towards this sometimes stinky challenge, and all information can be found at Carbondale.com’s The Scoop on Poop Page.

Which brings us back to Heather…

Carbondale Tourism has rolled out various marketing elements dedicated to trash throughout the last four years, and Heather’s expertise as a territory manager has only helped to strengthen this messaging. As she suggests, the sustainability in tourism goes well beyond just waste.

“Thanks so much for visiting Carbondale and thank you for leaving it better than you found it.” Heather says. “You can help maintain this beautiful valley, and positively impact our home.”

Heather’s Perfect Day in Carbondale

  • Village Smitty for coffee. (“They have the best lattes, and gluten free options” she explains)
  • Walking her dogs on the Rio Grande Trail
  • Taking a class at the Carbondale Recreation and Community Center
  • Dinner at Allegria 
  • Any outdoor activity, be it skiing in winter, rafting in early summer, or biking whenever the trails are dry

Events & Activities

Jun 22
>Festival Las Americas
Festival Las Americas

Club Rotario
Lucy Moncada Arcila


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Jul 4
>4th of July Parade and Pool Party
4th of July Parade and Pool Party


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Jul 5
>First Friday in July
First Friday in July

Celebrate First Friday on July 5th, 5-9pm

Stroll Main Street in the heart of Carbondale’s Creative District and e...

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Jul 13

Sopris Gymkhana Club


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Jul 13
>Carbondale Clay Center Presents: Clay & Moonlight
Carbondale Clay Center Presents: Clay & Moonlight

Clay & Moonlight
A Night of Fine Art & Folly
July 13th, 2024
6-9:30PM at Spring Creek’s Ranch

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Jul 14
>Jaripeo Ranchero Mexican Rodeo
Jaripeo Ranchero Mexican Rodeo

Gus Darien Rodeo


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