Sustainability. The Merriam-Webster dictionary define sustainability as this:
“a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged”
So what does that look like in a small mountain town of 1500 people?
In some ways, it is the same as it would be anywhere in the United States. Recycling your plastics, metals and paper. Using LED light bulbs and Christmas lights. Turn off your lights, pull out those iPhone chargers when you’re not using them.
But some things can be more confusing. Composting is a popular in Boulder and other cities as a way to eliminate food from ending up in landfills. But composting is more complicated when you live in the middle of wildlife habitat — one frequented by bears. Putting a compost bin outside is a surefire way to bring bears to your house and cause huge problems.
And what about fuel-efficient cars? A small electric car life a Chevy Leaf or Toyota Prius in downtown Denver makes perfect sense. Reduce greenhouse gases and park more easily on the city streets. But there is no way I’d consider having a car like that in a place that averages 150 inches or more of snow per winter. One ride down Hurricane Hill would send you spinning into a ditch.
But sustainability could be replacing outside lights with downward facing lights, thus reducing light pollution. Sustainability could mean taking the RTD N (Nederland) bus to work more often instead of driving by yourself up and down Boulder Canyon. It could even take the simplest form of using the reusable water bottle you bought at REI.
Back in 2014, Nederland was selected with 20 other cities in the U.S., to participate in
the Leadership STAR Community Program ; the smallest city selected. The STAR Communities
Program tracks our progress towards become a more sustainable community. In conjunction with that goal, the town created the NedSustainable Action Plan.
Four years later, as we read the goals set forth, it’s interesting to contemplate — are we making progress? What am I personally doing to contribute to the success of this plan? What does it matter?
For me, the answer is easy. I love wilderness and nature. I love the night sky. I want a community to be their for the next generation where they can thrive on the beauty, the wildness and solitude that I so love about living here.
We can become a more sustainable community, but only if we hold ourselves accountable by each and every choice we make living here.