Tips

Not just a craze, a real solution for reducing plastic waste – reusable bottles/mugs 

Pick your brand; Stanley, Yeti, Hydroflask, Nalgene – there are a plethora of branded options out there to support your reusable mug habit. With getting the new color “on trend” at the moment, we’re here to remind you that a reusable container needs anywhere from 10-41 uses before having a lower carbon impact than using the same number of single-use cups and disposing of them. Average Americans consume 3 cups of coffee per day, equaling 400 million cups over the US alone every day.   

Reminder to use reusable bags in Jefferson County

As 2024 begins, a reminder to continue to use your reusable bags, and remember to put them back in your mode of transport for the next visit (which may be the hardest part!). Using your existing reusable bags as often as you can, plays a big role in the protection of wildlife, and helps keep our local environment clean. Since the start of 2023, retail stores across the state have been charging ten cents for every single-use bag provided to customers. Now, those single-use plastic bags are being replaced with paper bags, as the same law now bans the purchase of those single use bags by retailers. Did you know that this law is also in effect at retail stores, in addition to grocery stores? And now, restaurants are also subject to new sustainable practices, with the elimination of hard to recycle Styrofoam food containers. Now your takeaway will be served in more environmentally friendly, sometimes compostable options. While you may still see Styrofoam for the next few weeks, restaurants will slowly transition as their inventory depletes. Read more about the Plastic Reduction Act, passed in 2021 here!

Take a Sustainable Approach to Your Celebrations this Holiday Season

Did you know that the average American produces 25 percent more waste than usual between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day? It’s an especially important time to pay attention to our consumption habits, especially considering that the production and use of household goods and services is responsible for 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, engaging in mindful consumption and gift-giving is a great way to support Jefferson County’s Climate Action Plan this holiday season! As your family prepares for the holidays, consider the following tips to engage in more sustainable celebration:  

  • Give gifts made of bamboo, glass, metal, or something edible. Plastics are made of synthetic materials, can be difficult to repair and reuse, and plastic waste is likely to end up in our oceans. Electronic waste causes discharge of toxic compounds (such as lead) into the air, soil, and groundwater.  
  • Give the gift of your time or your skills. Experiential gifts, such as a fun family activity or a nice night out, allow you and your loved ones to create priceless memories together while producing little waste. Sharing your skills (such as completing home repair services for your aging parents, baking cookies for your coworkers, or writing a song for your partner, etc.) is another environmentally-conscious way to meaningfully celebrate your loved ones.  
  • Get creative while wrapping gifts. Instead of buying new wrapping paper (which often cannot be recycled), have fun using brown paper bags, old maps, fabric, newspapers, junk mail, or kids’ art.  
  • Have fun finding the perfect *free* treasures for your friends and family. The Buy Nothing Project has local groups all over Jefferson County that support community members looking to find new homes for items they no longer need.  
  • Practice daily gratitude for what you already have. Gratitude helps us to delight in the good in our lives rather than taking it for granted and longing for what’s next. 

Bundling Up For Winter – House Adjustments to Make as the seasons change! 

As winter approaches, it’s time to winterize your home and prepare for a new season. Consider a home energy audit in the shoulder season to best prepare your home to be at its most efficient as the weather gets colder. There are many DIY Projects you can complete to make the most of your energy this winter, including some easy adjustments: switching your fan direction to blow hot air back down (a clockwise rotation), opening the blinds during the sunny part of the day to let in the warmth, and replacing your furnace filter to make it run most efficiently. The Department of Energy has many energy saving tips to support the seasonal transition!  

Food Waste is a Problem You Can Help Combat

Nearly 40% of the food produced in America is lost or wasted, costing the United States $218 Billion dollars every year. Individual households are the largest contributors to the food waste problem, wasting about 76 billion pounds of food every year. Limit your food waste by: 

  • Planning ahead for weekly meals, and only purchase what you need. Using a list can help prioritize what you need for the week! 
  • Storing your food properly to maintain freshness of produce can extend the life of your fresh food. 
  • Create an “eat me first” section of your fridge/pantry to use foods that need to be consumed first. 
  • Reimagine your leftovers by turning them into a brand new meal – using old rice for fried rice, or last nights roasted veggies for a breakfast hash. 
  • Labels such as Best By, Use By, Sell By and Expiration are not food safety dates – they’re established by food manufacturers to provide an indication of peak quality. Just because the date has passed, doesn’t mean it needs to be thrown out! 

Source: University of Colorado Boulder Environmental Center

Stay Cool in the Heat With These Cost and Efficiency Options 

Staying cool in the summer can be an expensive proposition, but there are many ways to maximize your cooling without maximizing your bill. Consider a smart thermostat that supports pre-cooling your home prior to the peak energy billing window. Additionally, closing blinds during the sunniest hours of the day will eliminate up to 25% of summer heat let in by your windows. Keeping indoor humidity under 60% by using a dehumidifier will support comfortable temperatures (and you can use the water you gather to water indoor plants!) Turning on bathroom fans may be counter-intuitive, but they pull out the rising hot air in your home. Replacing incandescent lightbulbs in your home with LEDs not only saves energy but will keep your home cooler, too – they waste an estimated 90% of their energy on emitting heat. 

Receive Wildfire Emergency Notifications

Fire season in Colorado is longer than ever, are you prepared? When there’s little time to react to an emergency, every second counts. Be sure you and your family are signed up for alerts from LookoutAlert.co to receive the first notification of an emergency in your area. The alert system transitioned from CodeRED on June 30, 2022 – so be sure that you and your family have re-enrolled with LookoutAlert.  

Bike to Work (June 28) and Coast into the Tax Incentives

As of January 1, Colorado businesses who invest in “alternative” workforce commuting options like bicycling are now eligible for a tax refund of up to $250,000. In last year’s legislative session, Bicycle Colorado advocated for changes to House Bill 22-1026, the Alternative Transportation Options Tax Credit bill, which created this new incentive. While the bill initially focused on transit and carpooling, local groups successfully advocated and testified at the legislature to expand the option definitions in order to include micromobility, specifically bike-sharing and employee bike fleets. 

The new tax refund is available to businesses that provide administrative time for facilitating carpooling, making transit pass purchases, developing company bike infrastructure (e.g. employee bike fleets) and more. With Bike to Work day sparking a reminder for innovative commutes, how can you encourage your employer to participate? 

Fire Season is around the corner, is your Home’s Ignition Zone prepared? 

More than half of Colorado residents live in the wildland-urban interface and are at some risk of being affected by wildfire. Prepare in advance by reviewing The Home Ignition Zone: A guide to preparing your home for wildfire and creating defensible space. The wildland-urban interface is a large part of the Jefferson County landscape, so preparation in advance of Red Flag Warnings or High Wind Warnings is crucial.  Implementing risk reduction actions does not guarantee your home will survive a wildfire, but it does improve the odds. Every community member has a role in fire adaptation, from civic leaders, to developers, to first responders, to homeowners and land management agencies. 

Change your Clocks, Change your Batteries! 

Spring Forward – Change your batteries in the smoke detectors! Sunday March 12 marks the day to “spring forward” our clocks, and a great reminder to change the batteries in your smoke alarms. The National Fire Protection Association recommends changing the batteries and testing your smoke alarms every 6 months!  

These days, smoke alarms differ in their battery requirements so it’s best to check with your manufacturer to understand your homes specific needs. If the alarm chirps, it’s time for a new battery – but there’s nothing worse than hearing that chirp at 2:00 a.m. – so changing them on a schedule helps protect your home and your family. 


Finding New Ways to Bring New Life to Your Old Things

While winter cleaning may be less trendy than spring cleaning, have you considered ways to give new life/opportunities to your unwanted items? The Buy Nothing Project has local groups all over Jefferson County that support community members looking to find new homes for items you may no longer need. Find the group in your area!  

Groups like this are a bounty of opportunity, from gently used furniture to unopened food items and plants that need some extra TLC to reach their full potential. Reducing, Reusing and Sharing are great ways to contribute to Jefferson County’s Climate Action Plan! 

Bring your Reusable Bags to Avoid Colorado’s New Plastic Bag Fee 

Did you forget your reusable bags? Beginning January 1, 2023, Colorado business are charging $0.10 per plastic bag and in 2024 they will be eliminated altogether due to a law passed in 2021. Coloradans use an estimated 4.6 million single use plastic bags every day, equaling about 306 bags per person per year in the state. Learn more about how you can save money and reduce waste by using reusable bags. Eliminating plastic bags at grocery checkout and for fast food will support the elimination of 100 billion plastic bags in the US every year. Laid end to end, those bags could circle the earth 1,330 times! 

Buying a pack of 5 or 10 reusable canvas bags can help move groceries from the store to home, and produce bags can even eliminate the pesky plastic bags offered in stores – which aren’t recyclable using traditional methods.

Add Humidity to Retain your Winter Heat!

During the winter, especially here in Colorado, our indoor air can be dry and uncomfortable. That dry air has a hard time retaining heat, and the furnace working to heat your home also removes humidity from the air. Installing a humidifier in your home will moisten the air and consequently allow for a better heat conservation.  

  • Humidifiers come in various sizes – from whole home humidifiers to small refillable sizes to support a single room. Find the right Humidifier for you here!  
  • You can also create humidity with normal household tasks, like leaving the shower door open after you finish or hang drying your laundry. Filling a vase with water and placing it in a sunny window will also support natural evaporation! 
  • Houseplants are also great humidifiers! They naturally release moisture in the air and can substitute or complement an electric humidifier, as well as add a nice bit of greenery to your home.  

Ready to Tackle that Home Energy Project You’ve Been Putting Off? 

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 offers significant opportunities for household savings. Eligible homeowners and renters can receive instant rebates and tax credits on items including new electric heating, cooling and hot water systems, electric appliances such as stoves and dryers, weatherization, rooftop solar, electric vehicle chargers, whole home batteries, and more! Check out the free calculator to see how much you could save.

Fall is Insulation Season! 

With fall in the air, it’s a great time to prepare for the coming winter by insulating your home. There are numerous companies as well as utility rebates and tax credits available for weatherizing your home including both sealing any leaks as well as insulating it. And, if you haven’t already done one, getting an energy audit can often identify solutions across the cost spectrum to save more money on heating costs.  

Energy Resource Center is the provider of the Weatherization Program in Jefferson County, accessible at (720) 236-1321, which can provide many of these options for free or low cost to income qualified residents, and Xcel Energy’s program can help you find a qualified contractor who can access rebates.  

Be sure to ask about all the options you have for rebates and then enjoy not only lower heating bills this winter, but a more comfortable home and lower cooling bills next summer! 

Recycling Glass: Economic and Environmental Sense

Did you know that Jefferson County is one of the few places in the country where recycling glass makes economic as well as environmental sense?  

While in many parts of the country, glass may be used as a layer in landfills and some areas are cancelling or limiting glass recycling due to the fluctuating cost of glass, most areas of Jefferson County are able to send glass to Momentum Recycling in Arvada where they can blend the recycled glass in with virgin material. This uses fewer new resources and also enables them to run the furnaces at lower temperatures saving more energy and the associated carbon.  

So while in general, more drink makers are converting to aluminum cans due to their recyclability and low weight, know that in Jeffco glass bottles are still a great thing to use, just make sure they make it into the recycling bin!  


Summer Carbon Weight Loss Challenge is OPEN!

Show your appreciation for both your health and the environment and get a chance to be rewarded for it!

The Jefferson County Sustainability Commission has the Summer Carbon Weight Loss Challenge for you! Participation is free and everyone who enters will have a chance to win some great prizes provided by our non-profit partner, Resort 2 Kindness, like an e-bike and gift cards to local eco-friendly businesses including our 2022 Sustainability Awards winner ZERO Market in Edgewater. And you will learn many tips that you can incorporate into your everyday life. 

The Challenge runs through August 21. For more information, visit the Sustainability Commission website.

Summer Carbon Weight Loss Challenge

Summer is upon us. Show your appreciation for environment and get a chance to be rewarded for it. 

The Sustainability Commission is hosting the challenge and participation is FREE! Everyone who enters will have a chance to win some great prizes from local eco-friendly businesses, including our 2022 Sustainability Awards winner ZERO Market in Edgewater.  

Learn more about the challenge which begins on June 21 and runs through August 21.

Carbon Gardening

What if your home landscape could not only provide beauty, enjoyment and food, but also sequester more carbon? 

The good news is that it already does, and the better news is that getting it to sequester more involves taking many of the same steps you might consider anyway such as using native species, focusing on soil health, planting diverse species, and thinking about the greater ecology (birds, bees, and so on).  View a useful primer and find plenty of resources for native gardening from CSU Extension or go visit the Native Plant demonstration garden at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. 

Composting Conundrums and Solutions

In order for commercial composting to be a viable option across the Front Range, there needs to be more regional composting facilities built and managed so that the cost (and emissions) of hauling over distance doesn’t make it unapproachable. However, while green-waste (think Jefferson County's own SLASH program) is relatively easy to take and process, food waste is another animal, taking intensive permitting and high capital costs to prepare for. If you’d like to get more involved in the discussion of where to locate a commercial composting facility in Jefferson County, please contact Sustainability Commission

In the meantime, keep those home piles working well with these  tips from Timberline Landscaping.

Spring is around the corner! 

How about some spring greening instead of spring-cleaning? Skip the chemicals when cleaning your house.  

Traditional store-bought cleaning products can be expensive and harmful to our health and the environment. Here’s a recipe for an all-purpose spray cleaner that is cheap, easy and has no harsh chemicals:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. tea tree oil
  • 1/4 tsp. lavender oil (or your preferred scent)

Combine the ingredients and store in a reusable/old spray bottle. View more DIY cleaning solution recipes.

Show some LOVE for our environment this Valentine's Day!

If chocolate is your must-have, try buying organic or fair-trade chocolate. Or go an extra mile by making delicious Valentine truffles!

Nothing says “you’re my Valentine” like a flower bouquet. Consider going to a farmers’ market, or another way to get in-season flowers from a local grower.

Skip the balloons. Balloons that accidentally get set free often end up in our parks, lakes and rivers. They endanger wildlife, livestock and pets, which can be injured or killed from eating balloon fragments, getting tangled in long balloon ribbons or strings. So, reduce excess waste and stick to thoughtful gifts and romantic gestures.


Healthier Lifestyle = Huge Environment Impact

New Year is here and along with it, all those resolutions. This year why not resolve to a healthier lifestyle that could also have a huge impact on our environment? 

Did you know that it takes up about 2400 gallons of water to produce only one pound of meat? Livestock and poultry in the US use large amounts of water-intensive feed. By reducing the amount of meat you consume, you can help conserve our precious water resources. 

Also, eating less meat, especially red and processed meat, can help you cut back on saturated fats and cholesterol, lowering your risks for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and early mortality.

And you don’t have to go completely vegetarian or vegan —start with one day a week—think Meatless Mondays!

Free LED String Lights

Broken and burn-out holiday string lights can be recycled! 

For a limited time, bring in your old string lights (no C9 large bulbs) and other hard to recycle items to SustainAbility Recycling Center and receive a free set of LED holiday string lights, courtesy of the Sustainability Commission and Xcel Energy's Partners in Energy program. 

For additional information, view Where to Recycle your Holiday Lights (pdf) and learn more about this campaign and other string light recycling resources.

Reduce Your Holiday Waste

Did you know American households generate 23% more waste than normal between Thanksgiving and the end of the calendar year?

SustainAbility Recycling Center in Arvada has put together a holiday recycling guide (pdf) to help you with proper holiday waste disposal. If you have old string lights or other hard to recycle items, you can drop them off at their local facility at 6240 W 54th Ave. 

View great holiday waste reduction tips from Denver.

EV Rebates and Incentives

Electric vehicles are continuing to gain momentum, whether from the latest infrastructure bill at the national level or the new EV trucks on the horizon. Battery technology keeps improving, charging infrastructure keeps expanding, and the rebates and incentives to buy continue to help offset the slightly higher price tags. Several sweet spots and hot deals have already passed for many cars, but more are on the horizon and your local utilities are likely to continue their incentives as well.   

Before you make a decision to buy a new car, take a look at an electric. Many of the old arguments against them have been addressed, and sites like Electric for All can help you navigate the best available incentives and rebates to bring the price points way down.

What Sustainability in Jeffco Looks Like

wind power at dusk.Take a moment to check out the sustainability commission’s 2020 annual report; it was a busy year! The big lift for our volunteer commission was preparing to develop a county-wide climate action plan to help identify equitable strategies to address climate change. We were able to establish a separate dedicated sustainability foundation and shepherd passage of a county resolution recognizing the threat posed by climate change, which has resulted in a solicitation for a consultant to help develop this plan in 2022. Check out the rest of Sustainability Commission website to find out more, including meeting minutes for any and all of the meetings we’ve held.  

While 2021 has been largely about the behind-the-scenes work to get this moving, 2022 will be bringing opportunities for you to engage, offer your suggestions, and lend your voice to this critical effort to prioritize efforts to make Jefferson County more of a leader in climate action.