Jean began helping her friend Claudia Irvin, the school choir director, raise money for school musicals through newspaper drives. The next year Jean initiated an association with Eco-Cycle to haul all the newspaper as well as to start collecting tin, steel and glass. As tonnage increased, she acquired a 40 ft. trailer which was first stationed at the high school. The local Watson Freight Co. hauled the big trailer of recyclables to Denver for several years.
Rocky Mountain National Park asked Jean to help them start a recycling collection program at their campgrounds for glass, aluminum and metal. In one year, 39 collection barrels increased to 93. Jean and a young helper emptied these barrels several times a week.
Jean educated and encouraged local residents to recycle through her occasional articles and letters to the editor of the Trail Gazette. She reminded them that recycling saves trees, conserves natural resources, saves energy, reduces air pollution and the amount of solid waste sent to the landfill, creates jobs, and makes the town cleaner.
Over the years many community organizations and individuals helped out with collecting and sorting. During the 1980s, the trailer was moved to the Pixie Gas Station on Moraine Ave, and then to Steve Gillette’s A-1 Trash location. The trailer operation grew into a Recycling Center and moved to the County Transfer Station in 1989. Very supportive of Jean and her recycling work, Mr. Gillette’s trash service later added curbside pickup of recyclables.
As volunteer coordinator of the Estes Park Recycling Center, Jean received the 1986 award for the state’s top community program for recyclables (run by a single person!)
Businesses on the south side of the 100 block of West Elkhorn got involved.
When Larimer County opened a new sorting facility in Fort Collins in 1993, local recycling expanded to include plastic bottles (#1 & #2). Eco-Cycle in Boulder began to accept junk mail.
“The Better Earth Committee for Estes Park”, organized in 1994, won a state grant to add a roll-off for office paper at the Transfer Station. They also produced a “Recycling Guide – Do’s and Don’t’s” and organized an Eco-Contest for the community. Two years later, a second roll-off was needed.
By 1996 the combined efforts of the Estes Park Recycling Center, the YMCA Camp, Eagle Rock School and High Country Recycling (a private hauler) brought the local diversion rate (percentage of waste stream recycled) up to 5.55 percent from 1.5 percent in 1991.
Jean helped found the Community Recycling Committee of the local League of Women Voters.
At age 80, Jean received the Larimer County Environmental Stewardship Award. She continued to inspire the CRC until her death in 2017.