Steamboat fell short for me when it comes to being a role model of the seven stages of the Pro Challenge, both in 2011 and this year. I appreciate that the event brings us revenue, visitors and a spotlight on national TV. I appreciate that visitors told me that our town seems the most “authentic” of the towns they’ve visited and that the locals are friendly. I appreciate the hundreds of locals who volunteered their time to tend to every aspect of the event to make it top notch. And I appreciate the two days of excitement, despite the traffic delays.
But we were behind Breckenridge in one key aspect in my book: waste diversion. The city of Breckenridge went above and beyond what the Pro Challenge organizers requested and made their entire stage — from start to finish — zero waste. This is a concept Steamboat is very familiar with thanks to Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. and the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, and we should have stepped up to the plate on this one.
In Breckenridge, there were no Jelly Belly team members handing out tiny soon-to-be-litter bags of jelly beans. There were no cases of needless bottled water being handed out to the booths at the expo. There were compost and recycle bins at all food and beverage locations. There were water bottle refilling stations. There were “drop zones” along the highway where cyclists threw their “biodegradable” gel packets for volunteers to gather afterwards.
Steamboat could have done this. Instead, we chose to turn the blind eye to the impact that this huge event has on our environment. For me, that isn’t a role model. We can do better than that.
Like Karen Schulman, tireless leader of the Routt County Litter Solutions Committee, telling a stranger at the stage finish Wednesday afternoon as he dropped his cigarette butt on the ground, stomped it out and turned to walk away, that he better pick that up and put it in the trash because litter isn’t appreciated in Steamboat. Like Doug Davis’ dad, part-time Steamboat resident and Pro Challenge volunteer, who I watched dig through a set of recycle and trash bins to sort out the recycling, even though he told me he thought it might be useless. That is being a role model.
Program and marketing director
Yampa Valley Sustainability Council