Confession: I’m an environmental whacko. I turn off my car when I’m not using it. I recycle. I sometimes bring my own plate to events and when I get to-go orders at restaurants. I avoid single use plastics whenever possible and I order my drinks without straws.
Until I moved here full time in October I would compost all my biodegradable waste. I also would buy local food products whenever possible and avoid Amazon.com like the plague. I rarely buy any new clothing and keep the heaters off, often sporting icicles in my own dwelling.
Everyone has a carbon footprint but I am aware of mine and try to keep it down to a dull roar. I feel like individuals can and should make a difference.
From my lofty perch in my Tower at Grandma Miller’s I feel that Grand County could do much better when it comes to environmental stewardship. Almost everyone who lives here loves the environment on some level. Even if you don’t belie that the climate emergency is real you probably don’t want to see this beautiful valley degraded by locals or visitors.
Compared to many resort communities, ours is slow to embrace green opportunities. This is particularly apparent when it comes to events. From small business luncheons to full blown festivals, plastic is still king. It can be different, way different.
I have approached some of the event leaders in the community but have not really made any inroads. I’m not an expert at this but know some people who are and I have attended many “Zero Waste” events, mostly in the Roaring Fork Valley. Yes, Aspen and Pitkin County are wall to wall with empty second homes spewing greenhouse gasses into the air and the Aspen Skiing Company still has a lot to learn and implement. But many valley events are Zero Waste.
It’s amazing to go to a festival, fair or concert and not see one plastic water bottle or foam plate or plastic fork. When a Zero Waste event is over and there is not one thing going into a local landfill it feels good.
We can and should do this now and forever going forward.
I just attended a wonderful event last weekend at a local resort and saw free plastic water bottles, plastic cutlery, lots of aluminum cans and plastic bottled drinks and even styrofoam cups being used. There were no clearly marked recycling containers and all the waste receptacles were full of food, plastic bottles and the rest, all mixed up and all bound for the landfill I assume.
We Americans are lazy. Many don’t recycle at all and we often don’t think twice about putting a half-full single-use water bottle right into the trash. They probably don’t get recycled anyway, right?
Our best hope is not to use these things at all. With proper coordination our large events can be Zero Waste events. Some friends of mine in Carbondale have a company called “Evergreen Events.” They take the lead on coordinating waste and ensure that not one thing from the event goes to a landfill. Their website is evergreenzerowaste.com and I encourage you to take a look at how fun, affordable and easy it is to produce a major event without any horrible, earth-destroying waste.
According to their website, their mission says, “EverGreen ZeroWaste is a social enterprise, using commercial tactics to produce community & environmental improvements regarding resource recovery & upstream waste diversion, while educating communities to improve program participation.”
“Zero Waste events are a reflection of a community’s values. We provide successful event greening for any occasion, from backyard parties to sporting events and community festivals. We accommodate your specific needs, bringing the Zero Waste world to you and your guests through operational management, vendor coordination, collection stations, compostable products, material hauling, staff and outreach. We also deliver a post-event report including diversion rates and other environmental benefits that result from working with us. Let us help you produce the maximum amount of fun with a minimum impact!”
These peace-loving hippies are making a real difference all around the state and we should be next. I’d wager that if we advertised that our events were “Zero Waste” we’d attract even more participants.
I remember when this company started with curbside compost collection and moved into helping produce really high end events. It’s a joy to be part of this easily reachable ideal. I implore our festival directors, ski company executives and community leaders to look into making our local events Zero Waste as soon as possible. Start with my friends at Evergreen Events. Tell them Steve Skinner sent you and they will probably give you a discount.
Steve Skinner thinks Grand County is late to the party. But it’s not too late. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.