Vail Valley consumers can find sustainable sellers |

Vail Valley consumers can find sustainable sellers

Cassie PenceGreener PasturesVail, CO Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado -In my last Greener Pastures column, I suggested New Year’s resolution ideas to improve your sustainability practices in Colorado’s Vail ValleyPledging to buy nothing new for a year was one of those ideas. This would require you to diligently shop at consignment shops, garage sales, thrifty stores or your friends’ closets, instead of heading to the mall, or not to shop at all.This idea has a pretty green bow around it, doesn’t it? But consumerism is as American as apple pie, and for many of us, it’s life, liberty and the pursuit of designer shoes. So, I have another idea. When you are enjoying a little retail therapy, support the businesses that practice sustainability, whether it’s their end product and services that are green, like clothing sewn from organic cotton, or it’s their regular business operations that score points with mother earth. For example, maybe the company recycles all paper and has a policy to not print e-mails, or most of its power comes from renewable resources. Maybe the company uses minimal packaging or gives fair trade wages to the people who make their products. Or just maybe, the company encourages biking to work by offering showers at the work place. Because green can mean profitability, most companies with good environmental policies are wearing their sustainability on their sleeves – and definitely showcasing it on their Web sites. So if you have a favorite shoe producer, check out the Web site to see whether or not the company is using leather from endangered cows and child cobblers. But seriously, some companies are better than others. For various different reasons, a few of my favorite national non-local retailers are Whole Foods, Aveda, Prana, Icebreaker, Burt’s Bees and Patagonia.Locally, Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability has formed a Green Business Partner Program to help lead consumers to sustainable sellers. The alliance’s staff believes that businesses can make a far greater impact than any one person can, and the program is the nonprofit’s way to help foster those local businesses making sound environmental choices. The Green Business Partner Program features alliance member businesses with a green story to tell. These partners offer deals and discounts to other alliance members (and if you’re not a member yet, shame on you.) For the consumers, the whole idea is to create a learning opportunity, and for the businesses, it’s hopefully to create a new and lasting customer.The alliance Web site shares the businesses’ green story, detailing what steps the business has taken to reduce its environmental impact and where the business hopes to go with its sustainability measures. One of my favorites is The Bookworm of Edwards’ story, because it shows what a business whose industry is not necessarily green can do to improve its place on the planet.The Bookworm reuses copier paper, notepads and register ribbon as often as possible. The store recycles all glass, plastic, newspapers and cardboard and only takes trash when the receptacles are completely full. Staff is gradually replacing incandescent bulbs with LED floods and helps to eliminate parasitic energy use overnight by turning off all electronics and computer equipment. And the Bookworm uses a Denver wholesaler to restock books to reduce delivery impacts.In the coffee shop, the Bookworm serves organic coffee, roasted in Colorado, and gets tea, chai, pastries and jams from other Colorado companies. A lot of the Bookworm’s wine and beer selection come from proprietors who use organic or biodynamic farming practices. These are all small steps, but imagine if everywhere you shopped took similar small steps. It would be a giant leap into the green for planet earth. So I urge you to do your research and spend your money consciously with businesses that share your good green values. Freelance writer Cassie Pence is passionate about living a more sustainable lifestyle. She’s married to the superhero of green cleaning Captain Vacuum, AKA Tim Szurgot, and together they own Organic Housekeepers, a green cleaning company. Their deal for alliance members is 25 percent off one service per year and 10 percent off ongoing services. Contact Cassie at

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