The city of Aspen is in the third quarter of a year-long game to reduce its global footprint — and $5 million is on the line. As one of just 50 U.S. communities competing for the Georgetown University Energy Prize, the Aspen Energy Challenge, run by the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, has encouraged businesses and residents to decrease their energy use through things like home audits and switching light bulbs.
At the end of the year, only one town will take home the money, but all participating communities will be winners in the worldwide quest to go green.
But it’s not just up to local residents; visitors can help, too. While traveling may inherently seem rough on the planet, there are ways to soften impacts once you arrive at a destination.
And in Aspen, it’s easy to do.
Ditch the Gasoline
Downtowner Electric Vehicle, Image courtesy of Downtowner
The town of Aspen is level and laid out on a grid, which makes it ideal for walking. The streets are easy to navigate on foot, and it saves time and money to avoid the hassle of parking. In the summer, hop on one of our complimentary cruiser bikes or SCOTT fat bikes to get to your destination with the wind in your hair. Just ask The Little Nell valets or bellmen to arrange for your bike. Helmets are also available if you’d like.
If it’s winter, and you are schlepping ski gear, hop on any of the free RFTA buses which loop the town and offer rides to Snowmass.
Or, download the Downtowner app, and an electric golf-cart-like vehicle will pick you up and drop you off anywhere in the core. The complimentary shuttle that offers rides to designated spots in Aspen debuted in the summer of 2016, and has been such a success the parking department has extended it through winter with an end date of Sept. 15, 2017. The summer hours have been 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. For winter, it will start at 8:30 a.m. so you can get a ride to the gondola! Heaters and doors will be on each shuttle to keep you toasty en route to the slopes.
“Clean” Your Room
Going green can start with decisions you make right in your room. When you leave, turn off the lights and the heat or air conditioning. Opt to have your sheets and towels changed every couple of days instead of daily. Rest assured that local hotels, like The Little Nell, are also doing their part by making green upgrades like LED lighting and energy-efficient air-flow systems.
Drink the Water
At the headwaters of the Colorado River, Aspen tap water is pure and delicious. There’s no need to purchase bottled water in this part of the world. Instead, buy a reusable water bottle, like the 24-ounce Polar insulated one with the state flag, and refill that portable canteen around town at the various “filling stations.”
Travel green on the return trip, and then use it as a reminder of your trip once back home.
When it comes to making environmentally friendly choices at mealtime, conscious eaters have a lot of options. For the biggest impact, make it a meatless meal and consider going with all veggies; the meat industry is one of the larger contributors to greenhouse gasses. Many restaurants around town, like Spring Cafe and Pyramid Bistro, are plant-focused and so tasty you won’t miss the meat.
However, if protein is an essential part of any plate, choose wisely. Aspen chefs, like those at element 47, pride themselves on sourcing their product from within the region, so you can eat assured that it’s friendly to the mouth, and the planet.
Leave with Less
Both of Aspen’s grocery stores encourage the use of reusable shopping bags by implementing a fee if you purchase paper or plastic. Remember your cloth tote when heading out to shop — for both essentials and gifts. Retailers won’t balk if you tell them you’ll take home your new boots, sans bag.
The Third “R”
Finally, recycle. In Aspen, that means separating aluminum, plastic, paper, cardboard and even Christmas trees. Businesses and the street-side recycling receptacles make it simple. Plus, many of the restaurants participate in the city’s composting program, so even your food will be used again.
That’s literally green on the go.
To learn more about the ways The Little Nell is practicing clean, green efforts, view our environmental initiatives.