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Local businesses that ‘go green’ should start with small, bite-sized efforts

The daily habits that helped The Bookworm of Edwards get recertified as Actively Green amount to many small changes that add up to a big impact.
The daily habits that helped The Bookworm of Edwards get recertified as Actively Green amount to many small changes that add up to a big impact.
Is your business Actively Green?

Actively Green is a sustainability training and certification program for all businesses in Eagle County. Participants learn how to make sustainability actionable in day-to-day operations and create action plans to drive success.

The Actively Green standard is “Recognized” by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and includes criteria based on many other accepted principles and guidelines including those developed with input from the U.N. World Tourism Organization.

There are currently 64 certified businesses in Eagle County, and 232 businesses trained in Actively Green practices. For more information or to get started, visit walkingmountains.org/ag or call 970-827-9725.

From straws made out of avocado pits and citrus peels to gift-wrapping ribbon made with pure cotton fibers, water-based glue and soy-based ink, many of the products used at The Bookworm of Edwards have a common purpose: environmental sustainability.

Thanks to constant innovation in the world of sustainable goods, Bookworm Programs Manager Makena Burner is always finding exciting new ways to keep The Bookworm’s Actively Green certification in check. 

“If you’re willing to put in the extra work and a little more time, you can find some really cool (sustainable) stuff out there,” said Burner, who chairs the store’s Actively Green committee. 

The Bookworm is the first business in Eagle County to be recertified Actively Green, the Walking Mountains Science Center’s sustainable business training and certification program. And the daily habits that helped the store reach this milestone aren’t as complicated as you may think. 

“There are so many little changes you can make,” Burner said. 

Thanks to hands-on guidance from the staff at Walking Mountains, Burner said businesses already have all the tools they need to aim toward certification. 

“Sustainable” as a philosophy 

A major part of Nicole Magistro’s mission for The Bookworm is for it to be a community-first bookstore. That meant serving the community while also listening and responding to its needs. 

“The pride we take in being part of our community — for us, it’s worth the effort and it’s worth it to make the world a better place,” she said. “Why not be a part of that?”

That’s really what sustainability is about at The Bookworm. Sure, it’s about environmentally conscious practices, but it’s also about the greater mission of why those practices truly matter. 

“We try to make our community a better place all the time,” Magistro said. 

The nature of the book industry tends to be socioeconomically conscious, Burner said. The store is already invested in the shepherding of knowledge and ideas, so there’s this understanding and desire to look for more ways to evolve and lead. 

That’s how Burner found products such as printer paper that’s made from trees grown in rice paddy fields, which typically serve as dead land outside of rice production. The nutrients in the soil from the rice helps the trees grow quickly, and every time you buy the paper a portion of the proceeds goes toward planting more trees. 

“A product or method you used three years ago might not be the most sustainable way anymore,” Burner said. “We’re constantly seeking out new information and new supplies. You have to go out of the box and dive in a little deeper.”

The Bookworm is always seeking out new information and new supplies to support its green business practices.
The Bookworm is always seeking out new information and new supplies to support its green business practices.

The little things

Focusing a portion of your business’s efforts on being Actively Green doesn’t need to equate to a massive undertaking in terms of effort or expense. Many of the efforts that helped The Bookworm achieve its certification and recertification were things they were already doing. 

The cafe team, receivers and green team employees are in constant communication when decisions are being made about a new product. 

For an organization that doesn’t do a lot of paperwork or administrative work, the Actively Green checklist and documentation might seem daunting, but the reality is it’s not that complicated. 

“It’s a really powerful thing to be able to share that certification with your industry and community and it gives people the opportunity to rise to the next level in your organization,” Magistro said. “I think finding a passionate leader within your staff is a key element, and another piece of advice is to bite off small chunks one at a time. Big projects happen when you do little things.”

Some of the little changes really add up, too. When The Bookworm stopped automatically printing receipts and instead asked customers if they wanted receipts, the store cut paper usage by 50 percent, Burner said. 

“All these little changes — switching out light bulbs, making sure faucets don’t leak, using one detergent over another, putting signs out to help with customer education — make a big difference,” Burner said. “You can strive to change one thing every month if that’s the pace you want to take it. Going green is often this big scary concept, but really it’s just little changes over time.”

Eagle County welcomes visitors while emphasizing caution

Eagle County is open for business, but residents and visitors are being reminded to continue diligent safety practices to stop local transmission of COVID-19.
Eagle County is open for business, but residents and visitors are being reminded to continue diligent safety practices to stop local transmission of COVID-19.
Photo courtesy of Jack Affleck and the Vail Local Marketing District.
Five Commitments of Containment

Limiting the transmission of COVID-19 is a top priority. Success has been due to the community’s commitment to social distancing and the use of face coverings. All visitors should join residents in adhering to the Five Commitments of Containment:

  • I will maintain 6 feet of physical distance.
  • I will cover my face in public.
  • I will wash my hands often.
  • I will stay home when I am sick.
  • I will get tested immediately if I have symptoms.

More information for visitors is available at www.welcometoeaglecounty.com.

As visitors travel to Eagle County for its world-famous mountain recreation, officials must also ensure visitors are aware of the expectations of residents and local public health orders so they can enjoy a healthy stay.

1. Don’t let your guard down
Travelers may be originating from areas with different guidelines, or they may feel that being on vacation in a perceived “safe haven” from COVID-19 allows them to drop their guard and adopt a more relaxed attitude. Public health officials stress that Eagle County should not be viewed as a safe zone with behavioral exceptions to disease prevention techniques. In fact, because of its popularity as an international resort destination, this area is more prone to outbreaks than areas with fewer travelers. That is why officials seek to ensure that visitors and locals alike are taking all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Visit welcometoeaglecounty.com for more information.
Visit welcometoeaglecounty.com for more information.

2. Follow proper safety precautions
Chiefly, officials would like to emphasize that wearing a face covering in public indoor spaces, and outside where proper social distancing cannot be met, is required by the state and county Public Health Orders and is a legal mandate. Additionally, social distancing is required among parties not sharing a home or hotel room. And lastly, public health officials urge everyone to frequently wash hands and sanitize, stay home if they feel sick, and seek testing if they develop symptoms consistent with the virus.

Visit welcometoeaglecounty.com for more information.
Visit welcometoeaglecounty.com for more information.

3. Respect local containment standards
Locals have made significant sacrifices during the past several months and continue to commit to Eagle County Public Health and Environment’s recommendations and requirements. They are asking visitors to respect their past and ongoing efforts and adapt to local containment standards. And naturally, it is in the best interests of the area’s medical infrastructure as well as visitors themselves to enjoy a healthy stay and return home well.

How to prepare, clean and disinfect commercial buildings for COVID-19

BluSky Restoration Contractors is an emergency service and property restoration company that’s helping commercial buildings improve building hygiene throughout the pandemic.
BluSky Restoration Contractors is an emergency service and property restoration company that’s helping commercial buildings improve building hygiene throughout the pandemic.
Images courtesy of BluSky Restoration Contractors
Do you have a COVID-19 plan for your building?

BluSky Restoration Contractors works with managers and owners of commercial buildings and hospitality properties to develop strategies and plans for dealing with COVID-19. Who should be in the room to develop your building’s plan? BluSky Restoration Contractors will work with your team, using hypothetical situations based on real-life events, to ensure you’re prepared and that your team is on the same page. 

This planning and discussion phase is critical for an effective response. If you’re not sure where to begin, call BluSky Restoration Contractors at 888-882-5875 or visit goblusky.com.

For commercial buildings — hotels, apartments and condominiums, hospitals, offices, ski resort lodges, etc. — COVID-19 can be as much a liability risk as it is a health risk.

Any building that’s professionally managed and owned will have to appropriately respond to a positive COVID-19 case or outbreak, but determining what that response looks like varies greatly depending on the type of building and its ownership.

When the calls came out for COVID-19, BluSky Restoration Contractors delivered frontline team members who are trained and certified to wear respirators and other PPE (personal protective equipment).
When the calls came out for COVID-19, BluSky Restoration Contractors delivered frontline team members who are trained and certified to wear respirators and other PPE (personal protective equipment).
Images courtesy of BluSky Restoration Contractors

Because there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, it’s essential to incorporate certified cleaning and disinfecting professionals into your planning discussions. 

“Each customer we work with has a different financial and legal risk aversion,” said Ryan Rusler, vice president and branch manager at BluSky Restoration Contractors, an emergency service and property restoration company that’s helping commercial buildings improve building hygiene throughout the pandemic. “Building owners want to keep people healthy and have peace of mind that their building is on the higher level of building hygiene, but at what cost?”

What is building hygiene?

Cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting and sterilizing mean different things. In simple terms, cleaning means physically removing unwanted substances

— dirt, germs, viruses, bacteria, etc. — from a surface. When you wash your hands, for example, you’re using soap and rinsing with water to physically remove contaminants and visual dirt, said John Temoyan, vice president at BluSky Restoration.

“That’s cleaning. But when you’re sanitizing, disinfecting or sterilizing, those are chemicals,” he said. “From a simplistic sense, sanitizers reduce the number of disease-causing contaminants; disinfectants are more powerful in that they inactivate them, but not all of them; and sterilizing kills 100% (of the contaminants).”

Building owners and managers who want to proactively protect against COVID-19 may choose to hire professionals to regularly clean and apply disinfectant to high-touch areas — places like lobbies, elevators, stair railings, door handles and restrooms. On the reactive side, all areas where an infected person may have been will be professionally cleaned.
Building owners and managers who want to proactively protect against COVID-19 may choose to hire professionals to regularly clean and apply disinfectant to high-touch areas — places like lobbies, elevators, stair railings, door handles and restrooms. On the reactive side, all areas where an infected person may have been will be professionally cleaned.
Images courtesy of BluSky Restoration Contractors

It’s technically impossible to disinfect a building, but you’ll hear the term thrown around a lot by people or companies trying to get your business. 

Certified and trained professionals

As an emergency service company, BluSky is prepared for environmental disasters. Its teams have been working in mountain communities throughout Eagle County and Western Colorado for the last 12 years, handling emergency responses from floods to fires to mold. 

“We fix broken buildings. When the calls came out for COVID, we have frontline team members who are trained and certified to wear respirators and other PPE (personal protective equipment), so we’re set up for this type of chaos,” Rusler said.

Watch for scams in times of crises

The team at BluSky has seen it all when it comes to scammers trying to capitalize on a crisis. There are people trying to sell snake oil for mold in buildings, and now they’re trying to sell it as cleaning crews. 

“People are out there touting a variety of products, services, and methods that are guaranteeing results,” Temoyan said. “If there’s a profit motive, people will come out of the woodwork. There are unfortunately some really good salesmen selling some really bad things out there.”

Rusler has heard of folks guaranteeing the removal of COVID from buildings, as well as companies claiming they can test for COVID in buildings. 

“Even if you could do that, there would be no reasonable way to do it,” Rusler said. “If I sneeze on a desk and two days later I find out I have COVID, unless you swab that exact spot where I sneezed, there would be no way to confirm.”

What’s really happening is homogeneous testing — some randomly selected areas are tested and they come back negative, so a company will claim the space is clear. 

BluSky Restoration Contractors’ teams have been working in mountain communities throughout Eagle County and Western Colorado for the last 12 years, handling emergency responses from floods to fires to m
BluSky Restoration Contractors’ teams have been working in mountain communities throughout Eagle County and Western Colorado for the last 12 years, handling emergency responses from floods to fires to m
Images courtesy of BluSky Restoration Contractors

“People have an emotional reaction when dealing with environmental issues,” Rusler said. “You have to remove the emotion, step back from the situation and repeat what someone is reading or selling. Does it seem logical? If it sounds too good to be true, it is.”

Proactive vs. reactive

Building owners and managers who want to proactively protect against COVID-19 may choose to hire professionals to regularly clean and apply disinfectant to high-touch areas — places like lobbies, elevators, stair railings, door handles and restrooms. 

BluSky likes to work with clients during these planning discussions to determine what makes sense for the customer. They’ll assess risk aversion along with factors such as access, building type and foot traffic.

“If you have a 100-person group and only five are coming into the office, what’s the frequency of professional cleaning and disinfectant application that makes the most sense?” Rusler said. 

On the reactive side if there’s a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a building, it’s generally an emergency situation. BluSky’s crews will come in and strategically apply disinfectant to the areas where the infected person had been. 

“For both the proactive and the reactive, we prefer to meet with the management of that location, regardless of the type of building, in the initial planning stage,” Temoyan said. “Even in a reactive situation, there needs to be planning.”

VBR looks for meaningful ways to bolster community

Avon’s Main Street Mall is the central point for some of the Town’s public art displays, such as the Home for Hounds Project, a large-scale art display of locally built dog houses on display until July 23.
Avon’s Main Street Mall is the central point for some of the Town’s public art displays, such as the Home for Hounds Project, a large-scale art display of locally built dog houses on display until July 23.
Photos by Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily
Pets and real estate
  • 66% of U.S. households currently have a pet or plan to get one in the future, proving that pets and their effects on a home, various belongings/toys, and accommodations must be considered for a majority of households.
  • 43 percent of households would be willing to move to better accommodate their pet(s).
  • 68 percent of REALTORS®’ clients say that the animal policy influenced their decision to rent/buy in a particular community.
  • 81% of REALTORS® consider themselves animal lovers. 
  • 14 percent of REALTORS® members volunteer for an organization that helps animals. 

Source: “Animal House: Pets in the Home Buying and Selling Process,” published by the National Association of REALTORS®.

Real estate is often referred to as one of the largest, most important transactions of a person’s life, but the real estate industry encompasses so much more than what’s tangible. 

Putting people into their dream homes or dream neighborhoods, or simply in a location that’s best for their family to start creating memories, is what real estate is really about. 

“While we have a huge gap in this valley in terms of demographics, everybody needs that component of home, whether that’s single-family, townhome, multi-family or vacant land,” said Laura Sellards, chair of the Vail Board of Realtors. “Home is where they are — now more than ever — spending most of their time.”

Proceeds from the Home for Hounds Project will benefit the Eagle Valley Humane Society and VBR Foundation.
Proceeds from the Home for Hounds Project will benefit the Eagle Valley Humane Society and VBR Foundation.
Photos by Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

It’s this impact on communities that the Vail Board of Realtors (VBR) takes to heart, which is why it also contributes to important local causes every year since 1996 through the Vail Board of Realtors Foundation. 

“As Realtors, we are grateful for the opportunity to provide our real

estate services to buyers and sellers in this community. So, it is our

pleasure to provide financial assistance to Eagle County residents

and not-for-profit (501c3) organizations that serve the local

community, primarily in the areas of education, disaster relief, and

housing-related programs,” said Cynthia Thrall, chair of the Vail Board of Realtors Foundation. “This year we were able to award $31,250 in

donations to local not-for-profit organizations. We received numerous

applications, so we had to choose the ones that correlated the best with

our objectives.”

The 13 dog houses were installed June 23 and will eventually be sold with the help of Vail Board of Realtors partners. Houses will be put on the “market” for $500 to start. For more information, visit homeforhounds.org.
The 13 dog houses were installed June 23 and will eventually be sold with the help of Vail Board of Realtors partners. Houses will be put on the “market” for $500 to start. For more information, visit homeforhounds.org.
Photos by Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Caring for the community

From students to businesses to the land on which we live, the Vail Board of Realtors believes in supporting the people who live, work and play here. 

“We’re a close-knit community, and our philanthropy all ties back to protecting and caring for our community,” Sellards said. “Overall, our giving is about being grateful to live in the environment we live in.” 

As the coronavirus pandemic’s effects have been felt throughout the county, the importance of philanthropy has been thrust into the spotlight.    

“We have a scholarship program that is probably more important than ever right now,” Sellards said. 

The mission of the VBR Foundation is “to assist the community and association members with need-based financial assistance, not-for-profit support, education and disaster relief.”

This is the third year of the VBR Foundation’s Annual Academic Scholarship Program for Eagle County resident students. Funds are raised via silent auction at the Vail Board of Realtors Annual Holiday Party, which the public may also participate in. 

“This past year we asked each real estate brokerage office to donate a gift

Basket — it was fabulous,” Thrall said. “Lots of fun, interesting, and creative gift baskets were donated and sold. One hundred percent of the funds donated are designated solely for the scholarships.”

In 2019, the scholarship program awarded $24,000 to 12 students. The VBR Foundation also donated more than $61,000 to the community, supported 11 nonprofits and provided six families and individuals with need-based aid in 2019. 

“Our largest fundraising annual event is our golf tournament. We have

no problem selling out for this event year after year,” Thrall said. “The location of the tournament changes, but it is always in Eagle County. We have all sorts of fun things going on throughout the day in addition to playing golf. The funds we raise at this event are all designated to support

VBR members and members of the community needing financial

assistance due to catastrophic illness or accident, for use towards

expenses related to medical issues or disaster relief. Our mission is

to be ‘there’ for you when you need us.”

The Home for Hounds art event incorporated local designers with building supplies and sponsors to produce artistic, functional, doghouses to be on display as an amenity to guests in Avon.
The Home for Hounds art event incorporated local designers with building supplies and sponsors to produce artistic, functional, doghouses to be on display as an amenity to guests in Avon.
Photos by Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Home for Hounds

As a sponsor of the Home for Hounds Project, VBR is able to extend its philanthropy to another important family member for many in this community: dogs.

Home for Hounds is a large-scale public art exhibit in Avon featuring locally crafted dog houses that will be on display over four weeks. The doghouses will then be auctioned — or put on the “market” — for bids starting at $500. 

“Nationally, we’ve got six million animals in shelters, and four million of those are dogs,” Sellards said. 

Dogs are Sellards’ passion. She runs a couple of dog nonprofits and believes that our dogs are so much more than pets. For a lot of people, dogs are truly what make our homes feel more like home. 

“They really are family,” she said. 

Proceeds from the Home for Hounds Project will benefit the Eagle Valley Humane Society and VBR Foundation. 

“You look at these animals and they give so much to our communities and their families and our freedoms,” Sellards said, adding that she’s worked with dogs that have supported military, police, sick patients, children in school reading programs or who have to testify in court cases — the list goes on. Sellards’ own dog, a 12 ½ year-old golden retriever, was a local pet partner in the valley who visited patients and staff at Vail Health and the Shaw Cancer Center, in addition to visiting many local schools to support reading programs. 

“Anything we can do for these animals that the Humane Society gets in to support them — they just bring so much light into our lives,” Sellards said. The Vail Board of Realtors® is proud to support this project and find homes for you and your furry friends. 

In Avon, outdoor art and recreation take center stage this summer

Editor’s Note: This sponsored content was brought to you by the Town of Avon

The Prayer Flag Project is a local art project promoting messages of encouragement, faith and love on display at Avon’s Main Street Mall.

Given the physical distancing guidelines in place this summer throughout the county and the state, the Town of Avon is proud to offer cultural events that don’t require large gatherings. 

For the third straight year, the Town has teamed up with Colorado Mountain News Media to create large-scale public art displays benefitting a worthy cause. In 2018, the Vail Board of Realtors (VBR) presented the Town of Avon’s Playhouse Project, with auction proceeds donated to Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley, the VBR Foundation and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In 2019, the Benches of Avon project featured more than a dozen nonprofits. 

Proceeds from the Home for Hounds Project will benefit the Eagle Valley Humane Society and VBR Foundation. 

“I love that every year, the nonprofit that benefits from the project changes,” said Danita Dempsey, Avon’s Culture, Arts and Special Events Manager. “There are so many local nonprofits in our community and in Avon that do amazing, noble work.”

Home for Hounds in Avon

Home for Hounds of Avon is a large-scale public art exhibit to take place over a four-week period, from June 23 – July 23. This art event will incorporate local designers with building supplies and sponsors to produce artistic, functional, doghouses to be on display as an amenity to guests during our busy summer season.

The 13 houses will be installed on June 23 and will then be displayed for four weeks at Avon’s Main Street Mall. 

The houses will be sold with the help of Vail Board of Realtors partners. A portion of the proceeds of the sale of the houses will be donated to Eagle Valley Humane Society ($5,000 is guaranteed to EVHS plus any proceeds over event expenses). Houses will be put on the “market” for $500 to start. The public is encouraged to place a bid on a house and take one home to their furry friends while supporting a great cause.

For more information, visit homeforhounds.org.

Art on display

Avon’s Main Street Mall is the central point for some of the Town’s public art displays. 

“It’s become a wonderful walkway and collection point for some of the Town’s bronze sculptures,” Dempsey said.

In early June, a smaller-scale art project went on display on the Main Street Mall: the Prayer Flag Project. In an effort to promote messages of encouragement, faith and love during a challenging time in the world, Vail Christian High School art teacher Heidi Cofelice came up with an idea to collect uplifting art on small, square pieces of fabric. She began asking students and the public to create their positive imagery on pieces of white cloth, about 8 inches by 8 inches, called prayer flags. 

“Heidi has strung them on the light poles on the Main Street Mall,” Dempsey said. “They bring messages of hope, harmony and peace.”

To participate, drop your submission in the mail addressed to P.O. Box 754 Edwards, CO 81632, using a standard envelope and stamp. Email heidi@projectseedling.com with questions.

Art anytime

Avon’s Main Street Mall is the central point for some of the Town’s public art displays.

With public art projects on display outdoors, the public can enjoy it anytime. Instead of being restricted to a particular event on a specific day, you can take a stroll down Main Street at your convenience, and when there aren’t many other people around. 

“It’s something to do in town other than hiking and biking or paddling, which of course we all love,” Dempsey said. “You can grab lunch and enjoy a picnic nearby, and check out some local artwork.”

Avon is open

Safety protocols are in place throughout Avon to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean that vibrant activity throughout the Town must stop. Dempsey said since businesses have started reopening, there’s a general sense that people are being personally responsible and socially distancing — “that’s been great to see,” Dempsey said. 

The Avon Recreation Center opened in early June with its own protocols in place, including distancing and restricted areas. The Town also implemented a reservation-only system to use the Rec Center — visit avon.org/reccenter to reserve a time. 

Nottingham Lake and Beach are also open, including paddleboard, pedal boat and kayak rentals through Stand Up Paddle Colorado on the northeast shore of the lake, near the swim beach. 

The Town is also planning on hosting some community-focused events geared toward locals, which can be easily accommodated during the phase 2 public health order, which limits groups to 50 or less. 

“All of our events can easily manage multiple groups of 50,” Dempsey said. “We’ll be posting details at Avon.org/specialevents.”

Punto de vista de los jóvenes