Walking Mountains: Rethink your behavior to help us meet our Climate Action Plan goals | VailDaily.com

Walking Mountains: Rethink your behavior to help us meet our Climate Action Plan goals

Paul Abling
Climate Action Collaborative & Walking Mountains Science Center

If we are going to collectively meet our goal to decrease carbon emissions 25% by 2025, as outlined in the Eagle County Climate Action Plan, it is going to take a little bit of action from a lot of people.

If you are like me, you often wonder what the true impacts are from your actions to be more sustainable. It can be as simple as working from home instead of driving to the office (which many of us are currently doing), or, as complex as installing a solar PV system on your home.

Luckily the Climate Action Collaborative has conducted an analysis of sustainability behaviors every Eagle County resident can do that will lower their personal carbon footprint. Better yet, they’ve also calculated, based on specific conditions in Eagle County, what resulting emission reductions would be for specific behaviors. How have your actions since the pandemic made you more sustainable? Are there any sustainable behaviors listed below that you have become accustomed to since the pandemic began that you can adopt moving forward?

No. 1: Get out of the car two times per week, or, just keep working from home.

Large strides have been made to make our local energy grid greener resulting in the No. 1 source of carbon pollution no longer coming from buildings (both residential and commercial). Instead, 36% of our emissions in 2017 came from transportation. The average Eagle County commuter travels 40 miles to work each day, twice the national average. Most often by themselves in a “single occupancy vehicle” (SOV).

Don’t be an “SOV” two times per week. There are a multitude of options to accomplish this and if you are like me, you quickly have become accustomed, and perhaps enjoy, working from home.

However, many in our community are in service oriented jobs and cannot work from home. But, what keeps you from taking the bus? Did you know ECO Busses have free WIFI and you can take your bike? What about carpooling with a coworker or neighbor (masks currently encouraged, same for buses)? Point being… there are many ways to do this and some of them may help you build a new relationship or improve your productivity during your commute. Give it a chance, even if that chance takes place after we move past this pandemic.

Another option, if you do need to drive, consider purchasing a fully electric or hybrid electric vehicle. At least if you do need to be an “SOV” you can do it with a more efficient alternative that is surprisingly fun to drive. There are currently many attractive rebates available that will expire at the end of the year.

No. 2: Purchase renewable energy, or, electrify your home.

For various reasons not everyone can afford or is a good fit for rooftop solar. What if there was a much more cost effective way to have all your personal energy coming from renewable sources? Potentially at a fraction of the cost of installing and maintaining your own personal solar PV system?

You can elect to purchase your energy from renewable sources with Holy Cross Energy and Excel (wind, hydro or solar). It is a simple process and takes only a few minutes. I was surprised to find out that for my modest three bedroom house and a family of four my average monthly increase to be 100% renewable averages out to be about $5.40 per month. That is about the cost of a cup of coffee and the results are 10,030 pounds of CO2 removed from the atmosphere annually. Wondering what your cost would be? Go to walkingmountains.org/renewable to easily calculate your costs.

Another option, albeit with more costs associated, is to electrify your home. Upgrade those old natural gas appliances to modern energy efficient electric appliances. There are a variety of rebates available (walkingmountains.org/rebates) and you will reduce your carbon footprint and increase the safety of your home.

No. 3: Compost at your home or business.

As organic materials break down in the landfill, they create methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than carbon measured on a 20-year time frame. The biggest contributing source of organic material in the landfill is from food waste.

There are a variety of backyard or indoor composting options available to you at your home to reduce your personal food waste. You can also contact Honeywagon Organics and enroll in their new commercial composting service or take your home compost to one of their community drop sites.

Want to make your business more sustainable and provide a creative “office perk” for your employees? Enroll in the commercial composting program for your business and allow your employees to drop their compost at the office. You’ll be surprised how many may participate and it allows you as an employer to make this option more accessible for your employees.

Regardless of your current situation, we encourage you to think about ways you have been able to improve your sustainability efforts this year during the pandemic and consider ways, once things go back to the “new normal,” where you can help us #BeBetterTogether to help us meet our local Climate Action Goals.

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