Local outfits with a planet-friendly attitude | ParkRecord.com
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Local outfits with a planet-friendly attitude

Amy Robert, Park Record columnist

Last summer my boyfriend and I climbed Mount Timpanogos. We had just started dating and were still in the "I hope to impress you" mode. So when we got to the parking lot and prepared for our ascent, I was a little apprehensive to pull out the garbage bags I’d brought along. After all, it was early enough in our relationship that he still thought I was marginally sane.

Much to my surprise, he was ecstatic when he saw them. "Awesome! We’re sliding down the glacier," he exclaimed, referencing a common practice to sled partway down after reaching the summit. When I told him the bags were for collecting discarded bottles, soda cans and other trash, his face was a blend of dismay and puzzlement. I thought he was practicing an "It’s not you, it’s me" speech for the car ride home.

But as we climbed and I collected rubbish, he came up with endearing nicknames for me: Crunchy, Organic Oatmeal, EnvironMENTAList, Earth Muffin.

Given our start, it was little surprise to him when later in our relationship he casually would tell me he was going to upgrade his cell phone and I presented him with a 40-page document citing how the overconsumption of cell phones and computers were killing animals in the Serengeti due to the Chinese building a highway right through their habitat in the heart of Africa. And when I needed him to make a trip to the specialty pet store to get a specific type of dog food, and he asked me why a month supply of it is the equivalent of a car payment, he was none too shocked at my reasoning: "Because they don’t use GMOs in the food, the bag is 100 percent recyclable and it’s made in the U.S."

He learned pretty early on that I measure the environmental impact of even the dullest purchases.

But I’m happy to say I’m not the only one who does such things. In honor of Earth Day (April 22), here are five local companies who are dedicated to their own planet-friendly practices.

Backcountry.com — When your business name includes "backcountry," it’s not exactly an imaginative leap to think they might want to protect, well, the backcountry. But this local outdoor retailer understands protecting the planet starts with individuals.

In addition to supporting nonprofits that promote open space and the environment, Backcountry.com offers its employees a number of incentives for being good stewards of the planet. There’s a "Green Team" made up of employees who engage and educate others on minimizing their carbon footprint. They partner with organic farms that deliver locally grown food to the Backcountry.com offices each week at a discounted price for employees. They reimburse employees who carpool, and they match Rocky Mountain and Questar energy rebates when employees purchase new appliances for their homes.

Park Silly Sunday Market — If you’re going to take it on yourself to save the planet, you might as well have some fun doing it. No one knows this better than those who run the summer-long Park Silly Sunday Market.

The market boasts a successful zero-waste program, ensuring all materials are properly sorted for recycling and compost is taken to a farm in Kamas. Last summer over 132,000 people visited the market, yet only 16 bags of trash went to the landfill!

This summer, the Park Silly Sunday Market is banning the sale of one-use plastic bottles by its vendors.

Park City Medical Center — Turns out, saving lives isn’t the only thing our local hospital does; it also saves the environment.

The hospital boasts a slew of eco-friendly initiatives, including bicycle racks, showers, and changing facilities for employees who ride their bikes to work. It purchased systems and equipment that don’t use CFC-based refrigerants in an effort to reduce contributions to ozone depletion. During the construction of the hospital, locally made and recycled building materials were used throughout in an effort to reduce the environmental impact. And over 80 percent of the hospital’s 156 acres is dedicated open space.

Treasure Mountain Inn — If trees could talk, they’d tell those hugging them to stay at this hotel.

Located on upper Main Street, the TMI is a member of the Green Hotel Association and has received a number of awards for its environmental initiatives. Among them: donating used, but not empty, toiletries to the Clean the World Program, which reconstitutes them for use in Third World countries; reducing energy consumption by retrofitting the hotel with fluorescent/LED lighting; and reducing water consumption by installing water-conserving shower heads, faucets, toilets and waterless urinals. The hotel also donates 1 percent of its revenues to environmental organizations.

Recycle Utah — You can’t write about green businesses without giving a nod to Recycle Utah, the Park City-based nonprofit that keeps about 200 tons of recyclable material out of the landfill each month! In addition, imagine a 40-foot-long shipping container filled with styrofoam. Recycle Utah keeps about 240 of those out of the landfill each year!

They find a way to recycle just about anything you once considered putting in the garbage can — old ski equipment, guitar strings, household grease, paint, bike tires, DVDs, child car seats, electronics, even bras! What’s more, they actively educate the community, offering everything from composting classes to green remodeling tips.

Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.


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