Telluride finishes out of the money in CAST Challenge

Telluride finishes out of the money in CAST Challenge

(editor's note: Telluride local, David Allen, was the driving force behind the CAST Challenge, a six month long contest to see which mountain town could do the most to reduce one-use plastic bags. TIO was happy to publish weekly articles about the efforts of ski communities to meet the challenge. Thanks, David, for your activism. And thanks to the businesses that sponsored the contest. Following is the press release summing up the Challenge.)

September 22, 2009


The town of Basalt, CO wins the Colorado Association of Ski Towns (CAST) Reusable Bag Challenge, which came to end September 1. Collectively, participating towns eliminated the consumption of an estimated 5.3-million single-use disposable bags.  “It’s been a great success,” says David Allen, the program’s creator.  “The results are better then I projected, and the project has received some impressive attention.  Media outlets have covered the CAST Challenge as far away as Italy!”

The CAST Reusable Bag Challenge was a competition between 31 mountain towns in the Western United States to encourage the use of reusable shopping bags and raise awareness of the economic, environmental, and social impacts of single-use shopping bags. The Challenge began on March 1st 2009 and the prize to the winning town is a solar panel installation on their public school.  Alpine Bank and PCL Construction sponsored the voluntary program to the tune of $10,000 toward the solar panel installation.

Andrew Karow, Alpine Bank Regional President, has supported the initiative since its inception. “Alpine Bank congratulates the community of Basalt for their environmental stewardship, and we feel privilidged to be part of the effort to reduce the consumption of over 5 million plastic bags.  As an environmental leader, we are very pleased to have played such an integral role in our Colorado community in this effort of plastic bag reduction.”

“Congratulations to Basalt on winning this years CAST Challenge. PCL Construction as a Mountain Contractor with a focus on green building practices (we were recently ranked #6 in the Top 100 Green Contractors by Engineering News Record Magazine) we wanted to lend support to the CAST Challenge. With our matching grant of $5,000 and handing out over 3,000 reusable bags to the local communities in Colorado over the summer we feel our efforts have helped make this year’s challenge a great success.” says Andy McCord, Mountain Division Manager with PCL.

In addition, Independent Power Systems of Boulder Colorado generously offered to provide the parts and labor for the solar panel system at cost. According to IPS, the combined cash amount and IPS’s contribution translates to a 1.5 kilowatt solar panel system on one of Basalts public schools.    The specific location and date has not yet been determined.

“At IPS we work every day to improve the environment and we’re proud to be able to lend support to the CAST Challenge.  We know that investing in the reduction and elimination of plastic bags will improve our quality of life and pay dividends far into the future” said Steve Schoo, Marketing Communications Director.

Since the competition began on March 1, participating stores have been responsible for tallying the use of every reusable bag used or purchased by a customer at checkout.   Participating stores included Safeway, Walmart, King Supers, City Market, Clark’s Market, Ace Hardware, amongst others.  The ‘winner’ was determined on a per capita basis by which community uses the most reusable bags during the six-month period.

Participating towns included Telluride, Aspen, Mountain Village, Snowmass Village, Basalt, Carbondale, Gunnison, Silverthorne, Dillon, Breckenridge, Frisco, Granby, Winter Park, Fraser, Avon, Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte, Durango, Eagle, Edwards, Estes Park, Grand Lake, Gypsum, Silverton, Steamboat Springs, Gunnison and Vail.  Jackson Hole, WY, Park City, UT, Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue, also participated.

Winter Park, Fraser, and Granby, who competed together, took the runner-up position, while Summit County took third.  A $1,000 cash award sponsored by Safeway will be issued to the runner-up and is tentatively planned to go towards the creation of a plastic bag-recycling program.

Environmental concern around issues such as litter and degradation of resources is the primary impetus behind the CAST Challenge.   In the U.S alone, annual production of disposable grocery bags emits nearly 4 million tons of CO2-equivalent.  An estimated 4 billion plastic bags worldwide end up as litter every year—enough that, tied end to end, the bags could circle the Earth 63 times.

Community activism and cost reduction are two other reasons the towns have deemed the use of disposable bags an important issue to address. 

For more information, contact CAST Challenge organizer David Allen at (970) 708 7071, or

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