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Frisco Teaming Up to Reduce Plastic Bag Consumption

The Town of Frisco, along with Breckenridge, Dillon, Silverthorne, and Summit County, is pleased to announce its participation in the Colorado Association of Ski Towns (CAST) Plastic Bag Challenge.  Frisco is joining 25 other mountain towns in a voluntary initiative to reduce consumption of single-use, disposable shopping bags.

Beginning March 1st, participating towns will compete in the 2009 CAST Reusable Bag Challenge sponsored by Alpine Bank; a friendly competition to determine which town can minimize their use of disposable bags the most.  The competition will end on September 1.

Other participating Colorado towns are Telluride, Aspen, Mountain Village, Snowmass, Basalt, Steamboat Springs, Grand Lake, Granby, Winter Park, Fraser, Estes Park, Crested Butte, Vail, Avon, Eagle, Gypsum, and Mnt. Crested Butte.  Jackson Hole, WY, Park City, UT, Sun Valley, Ketchum, and Hailey, ID will also take part in the 2009 CAST challenge.

Community organizers in competing towns have been working with their municipal governments, local businesses and grocery stores to prepare for the challenge.  The list of partnering organizers ranges from environmental and sustainability groups across the state to the Carbondale Rotary Club to the Girl Scouts troop #214.  Once the competition begins, local participating stores will be responsible for tallying the use every reusable bag used or purchased by a customer at checkout.   The ‘winner’ will be determined on a per capita basis by which community uses the most reusable bags during the six-month period.

The winning town will receive a $5,000 grant from Alpine Bank to install a solar panel system at a public school.  “This grassroots effort aligns with Alpine Bank’s commitment to our communities and the environment.  We feel that this initiative promotes resource efficient practices, prevents pollution and will encourage sustainable lifestyles within our communities,” Andrew Karow, Alpine Bank Regional President.

Moreover, the attendees of the last CAST meeting hosted by Mountain Village voted to allocate $5,000 towards the production of a Public Service Announcement.  The PSA will highlight the social, economic and environmental costs of single-use shopping bags, and will provide the details of the Challenge.  It will be made available to all participating towns.

Last November, CAST Reusable Bag Challenge organizer David Allen from Telluride started contacting members of CAST.  “My objectives were to first develop buy-in from local government officials, and second to identify and partner with community organizations in each town.  I’m grateful to each of them for developing buy-in from their local grocers and retailers and for their creative efforts in promoting the Challenge.  This never could have happened without their enthusiastic support.”

“The support and exposure we’ve gotten in our community is really impressive,” says CAST president, Joyce Burford. “I hope this effort gains enough momentum to the point where more towns Colorado and even nationwide start their own initiatives.”

Last summer, Allen partnered with Nathan Ratledge from the Community Office of Resource Efficiency (CORE) of Aspen to promote a similar voluntary program. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2008, the two towns eliminated the use of an estimated 140,359 single-use shopping bags.

“This is a low hanging fruit,” says Allen.  “I believe that anyone who challenges themselves to shop with a reusable shopping bag for six months will create a great new habit.  I also believe that that same person will become more cognizant of other areas in their lives they can improve.”

Shoppers will be able to identify participating grocers and retailers by the presence of the 2009 CAST Reusable Bag Challenge poster, which will be hanging on the entrance.

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