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Ahh, the holidays! A time for family, friends, shopping, and feasting. Some would argue it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but what’s not so wonderful is the increased waste and energy use. From packaging and containers to shipping, as well as the gifts themselves, our holiday celebrations have an impact on our environment. Below, BGV’s Sustainability team shares their top 5 tips to help you reduce your footprint this holiday season!

  1. Purchase local. Every dollar you spend at a local shop instead of online goes directly back into your community. When you shop local, you also cut back on all the packaging and carbon emissions from shipping an item. A 2018 study shared that out of the 80,000 tons of containers in the US a year, only about 30,000 tons of that gets put in the recycling bin – that’s less than half! If you decide to support your favorite e-commerce site, be sure to properly recycle any cardboard and packaging at the end of its life.  
  2. Get creative when it comes to wrapping your gifts. Old newspapers or paper grocery bags are simple and sustainable ways to wrap a gift, and both are recyclable. You can also draw on paper grocery bags, which is a great way for kids to create for family and friends. If you choose to use wrapping paper, opt for a brand that is made from recycled content. Earth Hero, an eco-friendly online marketplace, has multiple recycled gift paper options. While most wrapping paper is recyclable, avoid sparkly or foil-like paper because those must go in the trash. Don’t forget to collect all your wrapping paper after opening all your gifts and put it in your single stream or paper recycling bin.  
  3. Buy meaningful or useful gifts. Most purchases made for holiday gifts (especially electronics) are thrown away within one year. Do you have an unused item in your home that might make a good gift? Consider gifting that, too! You can also gift an experience or to donate to a loved one’s favorite non-profit. These gifts can’t be thrown away and are often much more meaningful.  
  4. Be mindful with your decorations! If you have the space for it, consider storing your decorations year after year to reduce spending money and waste. If you want to revamp your collection, think about donating old decorations to local non-profits or thrift stores. Sometimes, even schools will take them for props. One easy way to save energy on decorations is to purchase LED string lights for their energy efficiency and to put them on timers, making sure lights aren’t on during the day when nobody can see them. Lowes has a string light recycling program, so keep that in mind when it’s time to retire your old tree lights.  
  5. Finally, compost! We are spoiled with the most delicious food around the holidays, but often, we make too much. One way you can prevent food waste is by sending your family and friends home with delicious leftovers. You can have everyone bring their own Tupperware container to fill at the end of the meal! If you’re at your wits end with leftovers, you can compost them. Food waste is the biggest emitter of methane when sent to the landfill. By keeping your leftovers out of the landfill and composting instead, you are significantly reducing your carbon footprint. Summit County offers free food scrap recycling through High Country Conservation Center – sign up today to receive a free compost bin to use in your home.

Do you have other tips and tricks you use to make your holidays sustainable or any sustainability questions? We’d love to hear from you! Shoot our Sustainability and Recycling Manager, Emily Kimmel, an email at ekimmel@breckgv.com.

It’s no secret that people struggle with recycling correctly. As responsible consumers, we find ourselves trying to do the right thing but sometimes, this leads to “wish-cycling.” Unfortunately, wish-cycling can contaminate entire recycling loads that are otherwise clean. It’s very important that you check local regulations any time you travel and wish to recycle or compost. Each town has a unique set of requirements and items that are accepted in certain waste streams. Here in Summit County and in many tourist destinations, recycling and composting loads become contaminated more easily. Think about it – you have people from all over the world with different waste diversion efforts and requirements coming to a place with a totally different set of rules. It’s extremely important to make sure our signage and other education efforts are up to date and locals are staying informed on changes. Recently, our list of accepted items in the single stream recycling has changed. You are no longer able to put cartons in the single stream.  

This does not mean egg cartons, but instead, juice and milk cartons. These items are made with paper but have a unique plastic lining inside. Some even contain a layer of aluminum. Because of these two linings, it raises unique challenges for traditional recycling. However, these are still recyclable! These cartons are collected separately at our recycling drop sites around the county. Be sure to look for the “Cartons” sign on the dumpster! They are then sold to businesses that are able to properly give them a new life. In fact, once these cartons are sold and pressed together in a machine similar to a large panini press, they become ceiling tiles or a drywall alternative. The High Country Conservation Center reports that 30 cartons can make a 2 foot square ceiling tile.  

When recycling cartons, it’s important to know exactly which types of cartons can be recycled. Cartons with slanted tops like milk, creamers or egg substitutes are recyclable. Also, cartons that have a flat top like broths, soups or wine are recyclable. These cartons typically have a straw or plastic cap. Cartons that are not recyclable are oatmeal containers, ice cream tubs or coffee cups. Before disposing of cartons into the proper dumpster, be sure to take off all caps and remove straws as these can get tangled in the recycling equipment. You should also be sure to rinse cartons before recycling.  

Should you have any questions on what is and is not accepted in the Single Stream at our properties or at the drop sites around the county, you can visit HighCountryConservation.org or shoot our team an email at Sustainability@breckgv.com 

The Breckenridge Grand Vacations (BGV) Sustainability Department hosts World Cleanup Day for owners, guests and employees to take part in beautifying Breckenridge by cleaning up trash around the town. This is the second clean-up day this year, following the annual spring clean-up hosted by the Town of Breckenridge.

World Cleanup Day is an international event celebrated annually in September that encourages community members to get out outside with their friends and families to help improve their communities. Many communities around the world host events such as this and even compete to see how many bags of trash they can pick up in an hour. At BGV, we host a friendly competition among our volunteers, awarding prizes for a variety of achievements, including recognition for the strangest item found. We hold a raffle at the end of the event for more fun zero waste themed prizes.

The 2021 event will be hosted on September 20th this year and will begin promptly at 9:00 a.m. Volunteers should meet at the Blue River Plaza by the Welcome Center in Breckenridge. Supplies will be handed out and coffee and light snacks will be served. From the Plaza, everyone will spread out and conquer different areas of town before slowly making your way to The Boot Saloon at Grand Timber Lodge (75 Snowflake Drive) for a post-event BBQ. BGV employees who participate in this event may use their paid volunteer time benefit. Everyone is welcome and we hope to see you there!

This is a great way to get involved in the community, enjoy some fresh air and even make new friends! Please be sure to RSVP to Ekimmel@breckgv.com by September 17th at Noon with the number of participants in your group and include any food allergies. There is no age restriction. All clean-up supplies will be provided. All you need is a backpack for snacks, water and any layers you might want. And don’t forget…dress for the weather!