US Ecology: The Workhorse Of The Green Movement

US Ecology: The Workhorse Of The Green Movement

US Ecology

What happens to your old batteries when you toss them out? Assuming you attempt to dispose of them properly rather than sending them to the landfill with your regular garbage, you might not actually know their fate.

Many of the products in your home qualify as hazardous waste. The average household generates more than 20 pounds of hazardous waste per year. Products like motor oil, fluorescent light bulbs, and certain electronics should never be tossed into your regular waste bins. In fact, it may even be a crime!

US Ecology

In 2020, Boise Fire responded to a trash trailer fire at Republic Services that was caused by the improper disposal of a lithium-ion battery.

That’s because they have the potential to cause harm to the local environment, poison our water sources, or start fires. So what are you supposed to do with your hazardous waste? Get it into the hands of US Ecology, one of the top waste disposal companies on the globe, headquartered right here in Idaho.

At a glance, most people would guess that US Ecology is a government program that has something to do with the environment. (Or is that just me?) I spoke with Adam Hudgins, their director of talent acquisition (and retired Army veteran), to get set straight.

“We do the hard work that lies behind the face of the green movement.” –Adam Hudgins

With 70 years of experience, US Ecology is the leading environmental solutions provider for treatment, disposal, and recycling of all kinds of waste for government and business entities across the nation. In addition to managing waste, they are a top-tier emergency response service and offer a wide array of field services.

If you don’t know exactly what’s in that glowing toxic sludge you need to dispose of, chemists at US Ecology will figure it out so they can determine how to dispose of it properly. Even if you do know what’s in your hazardous waste, they are going to test it anyway just to be sure, and then use SCIENCE to render it chemically inert (if possible).

US Ecology’s service is comprehensive. Transportation? Whether it’s small lab packs or bulk materials over rail, they can do it. They have significant experience with DOT requirements for radioactive material and transporting difficult waste streams. Documentation? US Ecology loves documentation and will handle all necessary permits, loading and supervision, packaging, manifesting, and tracking.

All Roads Lead to US Ecology

The full scope of what they do cannot be captured in this article. What you should know is that US Ecology does the challenging, complex work that keeps you and me safe while also protecting our environment.

Nearly any industry you can think of encounters waste management or environmental problems that this green movement powerhouse can solve. Most of what US Ecology does involves waste solutions, recycling, and field services.

Waste Solutions

Your household hazardous waste (HHW) may not seem like much, but as a group we generate tens of millions of pounds of HHW every year. If we don’t all do our part to dispose of such waste properly, our beautiful state could quickly lose its natural luster.

US Ecology probably won’t be making home visits to pick up your recycling or used motor oil. But as the leading provider of environmental services for commercial and government industries, the odds are good that the local services that are helping you out will turn over your HHW to the experts at US Ecology.

Household Hazardous Waste

When it comes to your HHW, you have several options to help you dispose of it safely. Even if you can’t take it to a US Ecology site directly, there are plenty of ways to get your HHW safely disposed of.

  1. Take it to a designated HHW collection site for free. For our convenience, these sites are all over the place, though they are usually only open one day per month. Some sites might be limited to certain types of waste, such as heavy metals or prescription medications.
  2. Drop off your hazardous waste at a landfill or transfer station. These will have designated collection areas for various types of HHW.
  3. The Homebound Service assists elderly or physically challenged residents who are unable to transport their HHW to an established collection site and do not have readily available assistance from others. The Homebound Service offers convenient at-home pickup of HHW.

Commercial/Industrial Waste

Just like you, the hardware store needs to safely dispose of unsafe materials such as returned or expired paint. Likewise, your vehicle service stations, pharmacies, and manufacturing plants all have a plethora of products and chemicals they need to address. No matter the scale, US Ecology can handle it all and minimize the footprint left on our environment.


US Ecology’s network of facilities and service centers provides recycling services for everything from organic waste to universal waste (like bulbs and batteries), electronics, and more! They are the first and only company in the U.S. offering Aerosol Recycling Technology (ART) for aerosol waste. ART produces recyclable metal and reusable fuels, and it’s landfill-free with zero emissions.

People throw away over $10 billion of precious metals every year as electronic waste. US Ecology’s metals recovery service reclaims valuable metals that otherwise would have hit the landfill.

Field Services

US Ecology does more than help you dispose of dangerous industrial chemicals. Their field services offer safe logistics and response solutions directly where they’re needed, including specialty waste packaging, collection, transportation, and total waste management.

When disaster strikes, governments and businesses around the world call in the cavalry by way of a US Ecology emergency response team. Whether it’s a hurricane, a train derailment, or a deadly disease outbreak, they are the boots on the ground protecting human health and the environment. As I write this, they have 1,100 people in the field cleaning up a burst oil pipeline in California.

Creating a Sustainable Environment

The team of 3,400 professionals at US Ecology is what the military would call “squared away.” They are organized, efficient, and do everything by the book. They can help any industry develop safe and compliant solutions to manage their particular environmental risks.

Most of us might not notice the understated benefits that services like US Ecology provide us every day. Without them, generators of hazardous or industrial wastes couldn’t comply with government regulations and couldn’t operate. More importantly, their work is what allows us to go day-to-day without worrying too much about the impact we have on the environment.

We can all do better, be greener, and make more environmentally friendly choices. While we figure out the little things that we can do, US Ecology is there to handle the big things. They protect us, they protect our wildlife, and they protect our future.


What do the Chicago Bulls, the New York Yankees, and Tiger Woods have in common? They all dominated their fields with back-to-back-to-back titles. And now we can add Heritage Auto Repair to this list of legendary three-peats (2019–2021).

I wanted to look under the hood to see what makes Heritage special. To that end, I visited the shop, interviewed team members, and read what customers had to say. I found one particular message being conveyed over and over again, the single word that best describes why people love Heritage Auto Repair:


Data from AAA suggests that nearly two-thirds of Americans do not trust auto repair shops. We don’t usually plan to need help with auto repair, but even the best of us can be caught by surprise with a sudden leak, a failed transmission, or running out of blinker fluid. (I’m being told blinker fluid is not a thing.)

When car-tastrophe strikes, it can be incredibly stressful and can upend your life. We become vulnerable when our transportation and livelihood are in the hands of a mechanic — so we REALLY want to be able to rely on the people we trust with our vehicles.

“We have always wanted to do two things: to change the way people view our industry by being THE leader in our industry in integrity, honesty, and trust, and secondly to be a positive influence in our community.” – Rebecca Zanders, Co-owner

Folks trust Heritage Auto Repair with their vehicles. They trust that the Heritage team has the skills and tools to do excellent work. They trust that they’ll receive honest quotes and recommendations, and that the work will be timely and fairly priced. That trust is why Heritage has been named Best Auto Repair Shop three years in a row.

A Culture of Kindness

Kindness is underrated, both as a measure of society and as a business strategy. Our intuitive recognition of empathy and concern can be as important in health care interactions as the treatment itself.

Calling kindness a business strategy is a very cynical approach, but it is an important step to understanding how Advanced Dental Care of Twin Falls is so darned good. Their back-to-back wins as Idaho’s Best Dentist is no fluke. It is a direct result of caring about people first and then providing exceptional treatment. The secret ingredient that sets Advanced Dental Care apart is a culture of kindness that inspires people and generates goodwill.

Idaho's Best dentist Dr. Rencher and Dr. Viegel understand that their team, their patients, and their community all impact one another, so they take special care in nurturing all three groups. Attempt to inspire those around you and treat everyone with kindness. When you are up, help those who are down.

Truthfully, I could compile a long list of positive things they’ve done, acts of kindness toward employees and patients, and ways they’ve served the community. Lacking space to do it justice, instead I’ll cherry-pick something I uncovered talking to team members at the office.

Did you know that oral health can significantly impact expectant mothers? Pregnant women are at higher risk for oral health problems during pregnancy, and those with periodontal (gum) disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that’s born too early and too small. That’s why expectant mothers receive that extra dose of TLC from ADC. They’ll get the best that modern dentistry has to offer them and that bun in the oven, and the team helps them out with baby books, fudge — and someone over there is even knitting little hats! (Cue audience: “AWWWWWWWW”)

Dr. Rencher, Jodie Rencher, and Dr. Viegal show their love for those around them through their actions. More telling is that their employees, patients, and community love them dearly in return. For them, kindness is not just a hypothetical ideal to strive for — it is what Advanced Dental Care does.

Call the Doctor That Dentists Call

Best Oral Surgeon | Statewide Winner and Best of Treasure Valley

Eagle Oral Surgery There are certain situations when you want the specialized skill of a professional, especially when it comes to your health.

I learned this lesson the hard way when my dentist at the time tried and utterly failed to remove all my wisdom teeth.

You see, two of them were impacted, meaning they were overcrowded and growing in at an angle. After an extended length of time in my mouth, the dentist threw in the towel and referred me to an oral surgeon to complete the job. I was left with a bleeding mouth, a swollen face, and a broken wisdom tooth.

More Than a Dentist

Let me be clear — this is not a knock against dentists! General dentists are seasoned professionals in dental hygiene, treating cavities, and teeth whitening (among other things).

But dental school was just the beginning for Dr. Jeremy Hixson. Oral surgeons like him go to medical school and residency for an additional total of five years beyond dental school. Surgical procedures that might be performed occasionally by a general dentist are routine for Dr. Hixson, who has years of additional training and experience in surgical procedures and anesthesia.

As the president of Idaho Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons and former chairman of the St. Alphonsus Hospital Department of Surgery Subspecialties, he is especially qualified in facial trauma, bone grafts, dental implants, and injury restoration.

In fact, when a star hockey player was badly injured during play, it was Dr. Hixson that the trauma center called for help. With teeth broken or missing and severe damage to the gums and jaw, this young athlete needed the skilled hands of an expert if he was ever going to be normal again.
Fortunately, Dr. Hixson was able to repair the injuries, fully restoring the athlete’s ability to speak, chew, and show off a pretty smile for the fans.

Dr. Hixson is Idaho’s Best Oral Surgeon

Idaho's Best Oral Surgeon The team at Eagle Oral Surgery are also the go-to for procedures like dental implants, which are used for patients who are missing one or more teeth. Dental implants act as artificial tooth roots. The implants are usually made from titanium, screwed into the jawbone underneath the gums, serving as an anchor for restorations like crowns or bridges. If you’ve lost a tooth, or teeth, dental implants can restore your smile and your oral health permanently.

While Jeremy was teaching me the basics, he expressed concern about a recent trend he’s seen in the industry. Some establishments are offering too-good-to-be-true deals on dental implants, and are able to do so by substituting low quality materials for the restoration.

Done properly, dental implants should last a very long time. But when your restoration is completed with low-cost materials, they will likely only last a couple of years. He advises caution and encourages patients to ask questions and get a second opinion if necessary.

When other dentists or doctors have a tough case, they send their patients to Dr. Hixson. But you don’t have to wait for problems to arise to receive next-level care — get it right the first time by going to Eagle Oral Surgery & Implant Center.

Barbacoa’s (Unstoppable) Triple Crown

Statewide Winner & Best of Treasure Valley — Steak | Fine Dining | Restaurant

Allow me to let you in on a little secret. The 36 or so categories that make up Dining in Idaho’s Best are some of the most competitive, with “Best Restaurant” likely being the hardest award to win in Idaho’s Best.

But Barbacoa makes it look easy with a repeat triple crown. For both 2021 and 2020, Barbacoa was the Treasure Valley and Statewide winner for Best Restaurant, Best Fine Dining, and Best Steak. In 2019, they were the winners for Best Fine Dining and Best Steak — we didn’t have a “Best Restaurant” category that year.

Barbacoa is Much More than Just Barbecue

“Barbacoa” is where the word “barbecue” comes from! Boise’s Barbacoa is so much more than simple meat and fire. The amazing creations of Chef Enrique Martinez are inspired by the best cowboy cooking that Latin America, Spain, and the Western U.S. have to offer. Barbacoa isn’t just the grandfather of American barbecue — it’s the future of it.

With so many great restaurants across Idaho, how does Barbacoa do it? You can’t be this successful without incredible food, but what makes Barbacoa special is the sensational experience that transcends taste! In fact, they promise that “all your senses will be touched and stimulated” — at least buy me dinner first!

When first-timers enter this enticing establishment, they may rub their eyes and wonder what magical rabbit hole they have fallen through, as it is unlike any other restaurant anywhere. Barbacoa is the creation of the Castoro family, and it is a restaurant, museum, and art gallery all rolled into one. Owner/artist Martine Castoro can be credited with the incredible visual impact of the restaurant, and a large portion of the design and art on display is her personal work.

Always eager to get insider information on great food, I asked manager Nikola Castoro for some tips on what to order. The crowd favorites include the “Hot Rock” filet — Barbacoa’s signature 10-ounce filet mignon with flamed cognac sauce — and made-at-your-table guacamole, rounded off with delicious icetinis (if you’re feeling fancy). For something different, Nikola suggests “When Pigs Fly,” an exquisite dish featuring pork and quail. Finally, for the rebels out there, he recommends the fish of the day to experience the latest chef-inspired creations from the kitchen.

The Most Winning-est Winner

By striving to do what’s possible and not simply what’s necessary and safe, Barbacoa has earned their Idaho’s Best triple crown. Only one question remains: Can they do it again next year? I’ll consider the odds of that while I savor a 27-ounce rib eye from their rooftop lounge this summer, but I wouldn’t bet against Barbacoa!

No Crystal Ball Required (But Cope Collision May Be)

Idaho's Best Auto Body Shop

Rick and Sharon Cope — While other auto body shops have sold out to industry consolidation, the owners of Cope Collision have kept it in the family and in Meridian since 1963.

When I was a kid and our family’s new car was on the wrong end of a freak hailstorm, my father lamented that you’d have to have a crystal ball to know how much repairs would cost, when the work would be done, and if you were getting a quality repair or not. Cars are quite different now from when I was a kid. Back then they couldn’t talk (except for KITT from “Knight Rider”), and more often than not they were stick shifts.

Modern vehicles can be incredibly complex, which means that even a simple fender bender requires a skilled technician to restore your vehicle to like-new condition. As one example, with the introduction of the 2015 F-150, Ford engineers aimed to increase fuel economy by reducing the weight of the vehicle. They did this by replacing the steel in the bed and body panels with lighter aluminum.

While this results in significant improvements to efficiency, you can’t take your Ford to just any old body repair shop now. You must take your truck somewhere with the right equipment, training, and certification in aluminum-based Ford vehicles — somewhere like Cope Collision Center, voted Idaho’s Best Auto Body Shop two years in a row.

Though they are in a new, state-of-the-art facility, this shop has been family-owned and operated in Meridian since 1963. Chances are, when a company has been around for over half a century, they’re doing something right. And if you don’t have a Ford, that’s okay too.

Their team is I-Car Gold Class certified, the highest level of training in the industry, and they are factory certified by Acura, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Jeep, Nissan, Subaru and more. That means whether it’s a scratch or a structural repair, they can return your vehicle to pre-loss, factory condition. To my surprise, repairs are much more than pushing a dent out, slapping some Bondo on, and painting it. They require researching manufacturer repair procedures, safety checks, computer scans, and calibrations to ensure all systems are functioning. Skip a step and your vehicle may not be repaired properly.

While it’s unfortunate when your vehicle gets banged up, you’ll never need a crystal ball to fix it. You just need Idaho’s Best Auto Body Shop.

Idaho’s Best of 2021 Awards

That’s a wrap for Idaho’s Best of 2021! It was a tough road, but fortunately we were able to cap off this year’s awards with a great event to announce the winners. But first let’s take a quick refresher to see how we got here.

How Idaho’s Best Winners are Determined

Stage One – Nominations to Determine Which Businesses are on the Ballot
The 2021 season kicked off with a nomination period in October 2020. Every single business on the ballot got there because it was nominated by Idaho residents during this period. As most categories have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of potential contestants, only those 15 businesses with the most nominations moved on to the voting round for each category.

Stage Two – Voting to Determine Finalists
After a short breather to verify our nominees, voting took place from November 30 to December 18, 2020. To obtain the most reliable results, participants were restricted to one vote per category. The top vote-getters in each region and the state overall progressed to stage three as bona fide finalists.

Stage Three – Reviews and Reputation to Determine Winners
As we say, “Votes make you a finalist, and reviews will make you a winner!” Scoring isn’t complete with just votes. We do a little math involving your reviews from the previous 12 months, which (simplified) looks like this:

Votes + (5-Star Reviews x Rating) = Score
*Votes and reviews are averaged for multi-location businesses

We also verify that each finalist is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau. Although it’s not considered in the final calculation, you cannot have a grade lower than a B. No grade is okay, but a bad one is not.

Idaho’s Best “Business Rally” … and the 2021 Awards

This year we faced an uphill battle (as most of you likely did as well). Despite the state of affairs, we polled you for your opinions on how exactly we should announce awards this year. An overwhelming 91 percent of those of you who responded indicated that you still wanted an in-person event, and we strived to meet that request.

After multiple venues falling through, loads of red tape, and some last-minute changes, we were able to host the Idaho’s Best Business Awards at the remarkable Chateau des Fleurs. Many of you made sacrifices so that more businesses could attend, such as switching nights, reducing your party size, or even sitting in the Grand Hallway. We thank all of you for your incredible support, particularly our sponsors, without whom this event would not have happened.

For those who attended, there were a few differences this year other than the venue and the masks. In order to hold the event at all, it needed to be religious or political in nature. After convincing Brodie that starting a new religion may not be the best direction to go, we decided we could make the political angle work. We were honored to have guest speakers to reinforce our theme for the night, which was a rallying cry for supporting Idaho’s many small businesses.

If this was your first year to attend, we thank you for coming and hope you don’t expect the same type of political event next year, because we are totally committed to going back to a fancy party that is focused on food, fun, and you.

View Your Idaho’s Best of 2021 Winners

How to Capitalize on Your Idaho’s Best Recognition

We jumped the gun on 2021 just so you can use the recognition of being Idaho’s Best for the whole year. All levels of winners receive digital resources that can be used to promote your new status and show off to your audience, building consumer confidence in your brand. We also have a few other tools that you can utilize for promotion.

Idaho’s Best Plaques

Idaho's Best of 2021 Plaque

Proudly display your Idaho’s Best award with a high-quality 8″x10″ engraved plaque!

Idaho’s Best Magazine

Idaho's Best of 2020 Magazine

Designed to be a coffee table type of publication that residents and businesses will hold on to and use as a reference guide, the magazine will give you and your company positive exposure throughout 2021.

Idaho’s Best Presents Your 2021 Finalists!

After reviewing tens of thousands of votes cast for the 2021 Idaho’s Best nominees, we’re happy to announce the finalists for each category. Since voting ended on December 18th, we’ve been hard at work confirming the results.

This year, votes were cast with ballots secured through text message verification, and the finalists were vetted by the Better Business Bureau. We’re confident that these rock-solid results represent the best of Idaho businesses.

Votes + (5-star Reviews x Review Rating) = Final Score

check Nominations

check Votes

uncheck Reviews (← we are here)

When Will the Winners be Announced?

We’re almost there! While the top vote-getters move on as finalists, votes alone aren’t enough to take home the gold. We’re tabulating the number of 5-star reviews from the last 12 months and the ratings for each finalist. We expect to be able to announce the 2021 winners at the Idaho’s Best™ Awards Banquet (hopefully). We’re holding the banquet across two evenings in January or February in the Boise area, details to be announced soon.

2021 Idaho's Best finalists

Congratulations to all of our finalists for Idaho’s Best!

Voting Closed for Idaho’s Best Awards of 2021

That’s a wrap! Ballots for Idaho’s Best Awards of 2021 are in, and it looks to be a phenomenal success.

The businesses and attractions that were up for voting in their respective categories were nominated by Idaho residents in October. Those that received enough nominations to land in the top 10 earned their spots on the ballot.

Tens of thousands of votes were cast to show support for your favorite businesses and attractions in our community. We were overwhelmed with the enthusiastic response and can’t wait to share the finalists of each category.

Finalists will be announced after the holidays (ETA first week of January).

What Happens Now

We want the Idaho’s Best Awards to be as fair as possible, so our team is working hard to calculate the results and verify the findings. We use a combination of votes and reviews from Google to determine the winners — we even include ratings from the Better Business Bureau in our scoring!

Count Ballots

Who had the most votes? While technology makes counting easy, we still need to verify the results. Other contests permit spamming or daily voting. Idaho’s Best takes pride in our secure voting system to protect the integrity of your vote.

Count Reviews

Idaho’s Best isn’t like most “Best of” contests, which simply count votes. We realize that the community has already been showing their support for the “best” by leaving reviews all year long, so we’re going to count those too! We’re counting every 5-star review published on Google within the last 12 months.

Calculate Rating

While votes and reviews signify great work in the last year, overall ratings tell us how nominees have done long term. The mean rating from Google will be used in conjunction with 5-star reviews and votes to determine the winners.

Announce Finalists

The top 3 of each category will be publicly announced next month once we’ve verified our results. Finalists will also be notified by email as soon as possible.

Announce Winners

Typically, we announce the winners at our smashing Idaho’s Best Awards Banquet, but 2020 has been anything but typical. Like most of you, we’ve had to make some adjustments. But we’re still doing everything we can to have our event while complying with local health and safety regulations. We’ll announce our decision as soon as we can.

If the party is on, finalists will be invited to purchase tickets for the celebration. The banquet includes a red carpet entrance, a fancy dinner, photos, and other special prizes and opportunities.

If the party is not on, we’ll promptly be making other arrangements to announce the winners with as much pizazz as we are able!

Thank You

We’re grateful to everyone for the support and participation in the Idaho’s Best Awards. It’s been a lot of fun, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s contest!

Vote Now for the Idaho’s Best of 2021 Awards

The Idaho’s Best™ Awards are back for another year to recognize the best businesses in the community. The contest includes nine divisions with 189 individual categories, and uses a combination of 5-star reviews, online ratings, and votes to determine the winners of each respective category.

Our nominees were selected by Idaho residents during October, and the top ten of each category are moving on to the voting round. Voting takes place online from November 30th through December 18th, 2020. Anyone with an Idaho zip code and mobile phone can vote. When voters register their ballots, a confirmation code will be sent via text message. Enter the code to finalize and submit your votes.

While you can only vote once for each category, feel free to come back during the voting period to support your favorites in the dozens of other categories available.

Don’t Miss the Hump Day Giveaway!

New this year, we’re doing a weekly voting contest and announcing a new winner each Wednesday. For every new voter you refer after registering your own ballot, you’ll be entered into a weekly drawing for a nice prize. We’ve got a new prize every week while voting is open, and they are fantastic.

Details about the Hump Day Giveaway are available on the voting page.

When Will We Know the Results?

After voting closes on December 18th, we’ll announce the finalists (the top 3 in each category) as soon as we have confirmed the votes and vetted our list with the BBB. But that’s not where it ends!

In addition to votes, the winner of each category is also determined by their online reviews from Google. Overall ratings and the number of 5-star reviews from the previous 12 months are counted. Our team will take a little time to confirm the review scores for each finalist and tally that with the vote total.

Once the votes and reviews have been tallied, we’ll announce the winners at the Idaho’s Best™ Awards Banquet first before publishing them online. We’re holding the banquet across two evenings on Jan. 26-27, 2021 in the Boise area, though we’ll keep you updated in case anything changes.
For more details about the 2021 Idaho’s Best™, see our 2021 details page.