CAST CHALLENGE ENDS WITH BASALT ON TOP
The town of Basalt, CO wins the Colorado Association of Ski Towns (CAST) Reusable Bag Challenge, which came to end September 1. Collectively, participating towns eliminated the consumption of an estimated 5.3-million single-use disposable bags. “It’s been a great success,” says David Allen, the program’s creator. “The results are better then I projected, and the project has received some impressive attention. Media outlets have covered the CAST Challenge as far away as Italy!”
The CAST Reusable Bag Challenge was a competition between 31 mountain towns in the Western United States to encourage the use of reusable shopping bags and raise awareness of the economic, environmental, and social impacts of single-use shopping bags. The Challenge began on March 1st 2009 and the prize to the winning town is a solar panel installation on their public school. Alpine Bank and PCL Construction sponsored the voluntary program to the tune of $10,000 toward the solar panel installation.
Andrew Karow, Alpine Bank Regional President, has supported the initiative since its inception. “Alpine Bank congratulates the community of Basalt for their environmental stewardship, and we feel privilidged to be part of the effort to reduce the consumption of over 5 million plastic bags. As an environmental leader, we are very pleased to have played such an integral role in our Colorado community in this effort of plastic bag reduction.”
“Congratulations to Basalt on winning this years CAST Challenge. PCL Construction as a Mountain Contractor with a focus on green building practices (we were recently ranked #6 in the Top 100 Green Contractors by Engineering News Record Magazine) we wanted to lend support to the CAST Challenge. With our matching grant of $5,000 and handing out over 3,000 reusable bags to the local communities in Colorado over the summer we feel our efforts have helped make this year’s challenge a great success.” says Andy McCord, Mountain Division Manager with PCL.
In addition, Independent Power Systems of Boulder Colorado generously offered to provide the parts and labor for the solar panel system at cost. According to IPS, the combined cash amount and IPS’s contribution translates to a 1.5 kilowatt solar panel system on one of Basalts public schools. The specific location and date has not yet been determined.
“At IPS we work every day to improve the environment and we’re proud to be able to lend support to the CAST Challenge. We know that investing in the reduction and elimination of plastic bags will improve our quality of life and pay dividends far into the future” said Steve Schoo, Marketing Communications Director.
Since the competition began on March 1, participating stores have been responsible for tallying the use of every reusable bag used or purchased by a customer at checkout. Participating stores included Safeway, Walmart, King Supers, City Market, Clark’s Market, Ace Hardware, amongst others. The ‘winner’ was determined on a per capita basis by which community uses the most reusable bags during the six-month period.
Participating towns included Telluride, Aspen, Mountain Village, Snowmass Village, Basalt, Carbondale, Gunnison, Silverthorne, Dillon, Breckenridge, Frisco, Granby, Winter Park, Fraser, Avon, Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte, Durango, Eagle, Edwards, Estes Park, Grand Lake, Gypsum, Silverton, Steamboat Springs, Gunnison and Vail. Jackson Hole, WY, Park City, UT, Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue, also participated.
Winter Park, Fraser, and Granby, who competed together, took the runner-up position, while Summit County took third. A $1,000 cash award sponsored by Safeway will be issued to the runner-up and is tentatively planned to go towards the creation of a plastic bag-recycling program.
Environmental concern around issues such as litter and degradation of resources is the primary impetus behind the CAST Challenge. In the U.S alone, annual production of disposable grocery bags emits nearly 4 million tons of CO2-equivalent. An estimated 4 billion plastic bags worldwide end up as litter every year—enough that, tied end to end, the bags could circle the Earth 63 times.
Community activism and cost reduction are two other reasons the towns have deemed the use of disposable bags an important issue to address.
For more information, contact CAST Challenge organizer David Allen at (970) 708 7071, or firstname.lastname@example.org
TWENTY-EIGHT MOUNTAIN TOWNS PARTNER TO REDUCE DISPOSABLE BAG CONSUMPTION
Twenty-eight mountain towns in the Western United States are collaborating on a voluntary initiative to reduce consumption of single-use, disposable shopping bags. Beginning March 1st, participating towns will compete in the 2009 Colorado Association of Ski Towns (CAST) Reusable Bag Challenge sponsored by Alpine Bank, a friendly competition to determine which town can minimize their use of disposable bags the most. The competition will end on September 1st 2009.
Participating Colorado towns:
Telluride, Aspen, Mountain Village, Snowmass, Basalt, Breckenridge, Silverthorne, Dillon, Frisco, Steamboat Springs, Grand Lake, Granby, Winter Park, Fraser, Estes Park, Crested Butte, Vail, Avon, Eagle, Gypsum, Durango, Silverton, and Mnt. Crested Butte. Jackson Hole, WY, Park City, UT, Sun Valley, Ketchum, and Hailey, ID will also take part in the 2009 CAST challenge.
Community organizers in competing towns have been working with their municipal governments, local businesses and grocery stores to prepare for the challenge. The list of partnering organizers ranges from environmental and sustainability groups across the state to the Carbondale Rotary Club to the Girl Scouts troop #214. Once the competition begins, local participating stores will be responsible for tallying the use every reusable bag used or purchased by a customer at checkout. The ‘winner’ will be determined on a per capita basis by which community uses the most reusable bags during the six-month period.
The winning town will receive a $5,000 grant from Alpine Bank to install a solar panel system at a public school. “This grassroots effort aligns with Alpine Bank's commitment to our communities and the environment. We feel that this initiative promotes resource efficient practices, prevents pollution and will encourage sustainable lifestyles within our communities,” Andrew Karow, Alpine Bank Regional President.
Moreover, the attendees of the last CAST meeting hosted by Mountain Village voted to allocate $5,000 towards the production of a Public Service Announcement. The PSA will highlight the social, economic and environmental costs of single-use shopping bags, and will provide the details of the Challenge. It will be made available to all participating towns.
Last November, CAST Reusable Bag Challenge organizer David Allen from Telluride started contacting members of CAST. “My objectives were to first develop buy-in from local government officials, and second to identify and partner with community organizations in each town. I’m grateful to each of them for developing buy-in from their local grocers and retailers and for their creative efforts in promoting the Challenge. This never could have happened without their enthusiastic support.”
“The support and exposure we’ve gotten in our community is really impressive.” says CAST president, Joyce Burford. “I hope this effort gains enough momentum to the point where more towns Colorado and even nation-wide start their own initiatives.”
Last summer, Allen partnered with Nathan Ratledge from the Community Office of Resource Efficiency (CORE) of Aspen to promote a similar voluntary program.
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2008, the two towns eliminated the use of an estimated 140,359 single-use shopping bags.
“This is a low hanging fruit,” says Allen. “I believe that anyone who challenges themselves to shop with a reusable shopping bag for 6 months will create a great new habit. I also believe that that same person will become more cognizant of other areas in their lives they can improve.”
Shoppers will be able to identify participating grocers and retailers by the presence of the 2009 CAST Reusable Bag Challenge poster, which will be hanging on the entrance.