Low Carbon initiative takes off in Park City | ParkRecord.com

Low Carbon initiative takes off in Park City

by Gina Barker, THE PARK RECORD

Park City resident Mary Closser likes to set goals. One week she might not buy any red meat. Then, she will try to make one tank of gas last 14 days. Next, she’ll cut back on hot water.

Closser does all this as part of a Park City initiative, the Low Carbon Diet Challenge. Even though she earned a masters degree in environmental policy and has dabbled with green initiatives for years, Park City was the first place she ever regularly got together with others to talk about her green goals.

The Low Carbon Diet Challenge an at-home carbon reduction program set to officially launch in December started hosting coffee hours in October as a way to reach more people.

"The reason we’re having these is to have an ongoing presence for the program and to allow community members to get to know what the program is about," said Park City Municipal Corp. employee and host of the coffee hours, Tyler Poulson.

Poulson has already talked to hundreds of community members one-on-one about the program, but said that number was just scratching the surface.

"We want this project to gain more momentum," he added,

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Closser meets with seven other Park City residents to go over the finer points of reducing her carbon footprint.

"Some people feel like they’re doing a lot environmentally but they’re not," she said. "There’s a lot more they could be doing and that’s what this program teaches you. We troubleshoot and figure out things. We bounce ideas off each other."

Closser said one of the hardest things she’s dealt with by adopting the program was the distance she’s felt between her and the few friends she made since she moved to Park City 15 months ago.

"I’ve been told I’m ‘too into’ the environmental thing," Closser said.

Poulson would know about that. The entire purpose of the Low Carbon Diet Challenge is to demystify how being green in the home can be easy. Personally, Poulson commutes using a carpool, eats a vegetarian diet and even turns off the shower as he washes his hair. But those are some of his personal choices he made to cut back.

"The idea is behind the program is that environmental choices have become very complicated as we’ve gotten more and more information," Poulson said. "People can be overwhelmed, and this program simplifies all that by taking all the action items and quantifying them into carbon. It applies one metric to everything."

Poulson said the coffee hours and community meetings build on that idea by creating a support group for those looking to reduce their own carbon footprint. The meetings try to introduce new ideas he said. One week it may be something as simple as changing a furnace filter for more efficiency or as complicated as dietary choices and the carbon output linked to every meal.

Tom Ward, a Low Carbon Diet Challenge participant and Park City local since 1987, said his background in eco-brokerage and green real estate properties drew him toward the program.

"It’s my nature to be involved with anything having to do with sustainability," Ward said. "I try to live a sustainable life as much as possible from the car I drive to recycling to improvements in my home."

Ward said getting together as a group made working through issues much easier than if he were just at home reading out of a workbook.

"That group dynamic made it easier to review, to evaluate," Ward said. "You come up with ideas."

The Low Carbon Diet Challenge will officially launch on Dec. 1 at Temple Har Shalom located at 3700 N Brookside Ct from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The event is free to the public and will provide information on group meetings and how to get started with the program.

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