We’ve all heard Smokey the Bear’s classic adage: “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.”
Smokey’s recommendations have always been about following fire ban restrictions, making sure your campfire is completely and fully out, and being smart about using flammables in wilderness areas. But it’s time to take Smokey’s recommendations even further as ash and smoke affect air quality across the state as more record-breaking wildfires pop-up almost daily.
Temperatures have steadily increased over time due to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere caused by unsustainable manufacturing and consumption practices. Cross country ski races across the golf course in Evergreen are a thing of the past. Snowfall has decreased overall and summers temperatures are hotter. When temperatures rise and the water table decreases due to drought as a result of more extreme climate conditions, wildfires are more prevalent, larger, harder to control, and show up during seasons when they normally wouldn’t. Ecosystem unbalance with phenomena like Beetle Kill make conditions for wildfires worse.
As a result, the largest wildfires in Colorado history have all occurred in the last 20 years.
The Elephant Butte fire may have been a wake-up call for some of us living in Evergreen. Wildfire danger has, of course, always been something to be aware of when living in the mountains, but witnessing a wildfire first-hand makes a difference. Evergreen’s Alliance for Sustainability’s mission has been to foster local, sustainable solutions for food sources, waste streams, and energy use in Evergreen and surrounding communities for over 10 years. We know that in order to sustain Earth’s climate systems and vitality, we must do our part to mitigate climate change and protect ecosystems.
Here’s a list of things you can do easily, affordably, and quickly to reduce your impact:
Composting prevents methane gas emissions in landfills and returns carbon to the soil. It also captures vital nutrients from decaying matter to maintain soil health and grow healthy food. Our Community Composting program makes composting in the mountains easy. There’s also plenty of options for composting at home. You can also email Lindsay Anderson, Director of Programs and Operations, to grab some Red Wigglers from her own vermiculture to start your own bin, or ask how she “composts” most of her food scraps with her chickens at home.
REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE before you RECYCLE
Saying no to consuming things we don’t need, especially one-use items manufactured overseas with unsustainable materials, is critical. Focus on your basic needs: shelter, food, water, air, and other intangibles like connecting with friends and family and exercise. These resources are critical and threatened by climate change which is directly exacerbated by our consumption of unnecessary items.
RETHINK how your organization or business consumes to move from a linear to circular economy
Move toward renewable energy by getting solar panels or sourcing renewable energy through your energy company. Local businesses like Old Pine Candle Co. are a shining example as to how just a few people can make a big impact by rethinking the processing of materials to move toward a circular system. Old Pine collects used candles via their stockists and reuses the jars along with discarded studio wax into their recycled collection. It’s a simple but effective example of a closed-loop system that keeps materials local through the entire circle. The Evergreen Sustainability Alliance was happy to help Old Pine brainstorm this process and is happy to help with your organization or business in rethinking ways you can reduce your impact!
EAT locally and sustainably grown food, mostly plants (typical agriculture models, especially for beef, have a big water footprint)
Get on the waitlist for our community gardens or start your own plot at home with these resources. Support local, sustainable farming practices by signing up for a Food Share at GoFarm or via farmer’s markets (always check where and how they grow their produce). Remember you are voting with your dollar each time you make a purchase for the type of world you want to live in and the type of manufacturing and resource consumption practices you support, which means: skip the Cheetos and grab a locally grown apple! Typically the better choices for the planet are also the better choice for our health, as freshly picked organically grown produce is full of nutrients and void of carcinogens and other volatile chemicals.
PUT PRESSURE ON YOUR REPRESENTATIVES!
Call them about the fires. What are they doing about it? What sustainability solutions are popping up as bills? Can you help draft one? Do you have a fresh idea? The louder our collective voice, the more likely we are to be heard. Now, more than ever, do we need everyone stepping up to solve the climate crisis before it’s too late.
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