RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – One local Dutch Bros Coffee employee is doing a lot more than serving up drinks. She noticed her store wasn’t recycling much, so she took matters into her own hands. With a drive-thru packed with cars, employees at the Dutch Bros in Rio Rancho don’t miss a beat.

“My friend actually got a job at the other stand and she’s like ‘you’re going to love it,'” says Kaela Chavez. Chavez has been working at the location near 528 and Rio Rancho Boulevard since September, and in that time, she noticed a big problem.

“Almost everything we use can be recycled but it wasn’t being recycled. We use a lot of milk cartons for all the creams, the milks, all of that stuff, we use a lot of cans for all of our energy drinks,” Chavez said.

She says the company the store contracts with to haul waste, only recycles cardboard boxes. “It really bothered me just because I am such a tree hugger, “Chavez says.

Chavez is studying environmental sciences at the University of New Mexico and decided to put her passion to good use. Last month, she convinced her store operator and co-workers to start recycling cans. But it could be up to Chavez to get the recycling where it needed to go. “Me and my co-worker we filled up her grandpa’s truck to the absolute brim and we just hauled them all over there,” Chavez says.

It’s turned into a major undertaking. “Every two weeks I’ll take it to the recycling plant. For the first two weeks that we started actually separating out the cans and recycling those we got 152 pounds of cans,” Chavez says.

The Dutch Bros Director of Sustainability Lindsay Newkirk recognizes what a big difference this employee has made. “She didn’t stop at, ‘oh we can’t recycle through our hauler,’ she found other avenues to be able to recycle,” Newkirk said.

Newkirk says the company encourages recycling at every store but different states have different opportunities and programs. The company is happy to see what’s happened in New Mexico. “It’s in the DNA of Dutch Bros to do the right thing and to support our crews in finding opportunities where they can make a massive difference in the communities,” Newkirk says.

Chavez knows it’s a sacrifice that will make a lasting impact. “It was definitely worth it, it’s a satisfying thing to do,” Chavez says. She says between her store on 528 and the other Rio Rancho location on Unser, they recycled 300 pounds of can last month alone.