Aspen bag challenge not over yet |

Aspen bag challenge not over yet

Katie Redding
Aspen Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado ” The Aspen/Telluride Challenge, aimed at promoting reusable shopping bags, has been extended through Labor Day weekend.

The program was previously scheduled to end on the Fourth of July, but Aspen’s Community Office of Resource Efficiency (CORE) and Telluride’s Sheep Mountain Alliance (SMA) felt the contest was worth extending.

In both towns, grocers have promised to donate 5 cents to a green fund for each purchase or use of a reusable bag. The fund will finance a yet-to-be-determined environmental project within each community.

The community that raises the most money, per capita, wins. The loser must purchase two solar monitor sets for the winning municipality’s public school system.

“It’s been really exciting to see the community respond,” said Nathan Ratledge with CORE. “We’ve been passing out free bags the last few weekends and virtually everyone has been supportive of the program.”

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In the first three weeks of the program, City Market reported that its Aspen store has seen more than 4,500 reusable bags come through the checkout, according to Ratledge. During the same period, Clark’s Market reported that it sold more than 800 reusable bags.

CORE and Sheep Mountain Alliance now plan to take the program to an even larger audience, by proposing a statewide plastic bag competition to the Colorado Association of Ski Towns.

David Allen, of Sheep Mountain Alliance, said that while progress is being made, he believed it was possible to improve upon the initial results.

“The greatest challenge we are facing is the difficulty in changing one’s habits,” he said. “This is an inherit problem with voluntary programs. We know that everyone wants to reduce plastics in their lives, but actually remembering to grab your reusable bag is a common problem.”

According to Ratledge, CORE still plans to champion an ordinance permanently limiting disposable bag use. An online poll seeking Aspen’s opinion about possible government actions is available on CORE’s website at

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