Sustainability director for Aspen to speak in Steamboat on Tuesday | SteamboatToday.com

Sustainability director for Aspen to speak in Steamboat on Tuesday

— For people wondering how their own small efforts toward living more sustainably will ever save the planet, Auden Schendler has some answers.

Schendler, the executive director of sustainability for Aspen Skiing Co., will be the featured speaker Tuesday night at the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council's first Talking Green lecture of 2012.

Sustainability Council coordinator Kim Kline said her organization intends to issue a call to action to the community in this year's lecture series and get the point across that the Yampa Valley can learn from other mountain towns.

"Our community is lacking in direction, and we have a chance to learn from others who are further down the road," in terms of sustainability, Kline said.

Schendler said there is good news in the realization that the push to live more sustainably can enrich the lives of everyone in society.

"People have always looked for some way to make life useful and dignified," Schendler said Monday. "Nothing quite wraps it up like climate change. It almost brings meaning into whatever you care about."

Whatever a person's inclination — from religion to education, combating poverty or promoting economic development — sustainability is a fit, he added.

"We've got to do this; it's the everything issue," Schendler said. "And it's an unprecedented opportunity."

Schendler, the author of the 2009 book, "Getting Green Done: Hard Truths From the Front line of the Sustainability Revolution," is well-prepared to challenge his audience.

Very early in the book, he makes it clear that only government action on a global level has the potential to reverse climate change. However, he also provides a rationale for putting on one's work gloves and pitching in at the micro level to effect change.

"It's fine for people to buy a Prius and use canvas bags at the supermarket," Schendler wrote in "Getting Green Done." "But we can't afford the delusion that such individual action is enough."

However, Schendler contends that isn't sufficient reason for individuals to throw up their hands and resort to simply lobbying their elected officials. Why is that? For one thing, he said, we don't have time to wait. But more practically, he asserts that grassroots efforts can inspire government to put policy into action.

"Government needs examples of how to be environmentally progressive and case studies from which to build public policy," Schendler wrote.

And it can be individuals acting within the structure of the workplace who can show government the way.

Schendler urges businesses that aspire to become more sustainable to find their biggest lever. That is, the part of their business where they have the most opportunity to influence peoples' behaviors and effect outcomes.

Sponsors of the event include Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp., Mountain Resorts, NewPowerFund.com, Vector Group and Homelink magazine.