Take the bus, reuse your bags for a healthier Breckenridge (sponsored) | SummitDaily.com

Take the bus, reuse your bags for a healthier Breckenridge (sponsored)

We all know we should be driving less in order to contribute to a healthier planet, but some people seem to prefer wasting hours of their lives sitting in traffic and circling around looking for parking spots.

In Breckenridge, you could waste precious hiking, mountain biking or shopping minutes in search of a parking spot. Or, you could simply leave your car parked at your home or hotel and hop on a free, scenic bus ride around town or to your favorite trailhead.

Even better: you can do it with your beautifully artistic reusable bags in tow.

These are two of the Town of Breckenridge's most important messages to visitors and residents this summer: ride the bus more, and always carry reusable bags and water[LH2]  bottles.

For mountain towns like Breckenridge that depend on snow in the winter — which turns into much needed water in the summer — these practices are essential.

Cutting the Town's carbon footprint is the most "pro-snow" thing it can do, said Haley Littleton, communications and marketing coordinator for the Town of Breckenridge.

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"When you visit Breckenridge, it's all about being a local – settling into the everyday rhythms of life of a real town that's also a great place to visit," Littleton said. "Part of being a local involves taking care of this beautiful landscape that we all enjoy and the Town invites everyone — from its first time visitors to regular repeats — to join in these initiatives."

Riding the bus is easy — and free!

The Town of Breckenridge started offering its free transit services in November of 1997. In 2017, the Town provided free bus service for one million passenger trips and Littleton said the Town hopes to continue to grow those numbers.

In the summertime, there's a bus running just about every 15 to 20 minutes, adding to the overall convenience of using the transit system.

The Town of Breckenridge's new transit app, My Free Ride — available for Android and iPhone users — is also taking the guessing game out of bus service. Users can search for their route and explore the various stops along the route. Users can see in real-time where their bus is and when it is going to get to their stop. Users can also see how often the bus runs and an estimated arrival time, Littleton said.

"We still see that mindset that people feel they need a car while they're here. It's so much easier for us to help you get where you're going in town," Littleton said. "My Free Ride makes it easy to take the bus and eliminates long waits at a bus stop or trying to figure out how to get from one side of Breckenridge to the other."

Stylish, reusable bags for $1

The Town of Breckenridge passed a 10-cent fee on all plastic bags back in October of 2013. Before the fee, an estimated three million disposable bags were handed out every year by local retail and grocery stores, Littleton said.

Some two billion disposable bags are used in Colorado annually. The fee is intended to reduce these annual numbers, according to the Town. Since the program's inception, the Town estimates that use of disposable bags has been reduced by 50 percent.

"We were fishing a lot of plastic bags out of the river," Littleton said. "The reason everyone loves to come to Breckenridge is because it's so beautiful

We see our role as making sure this environment stays clean and protected for future generations."

The revenues from the bag fees go back into the program to provide public awareness about bag use. It also funds the "Breckenridge Bag" program, which is a reusable bag that doubles as a souvenir.

For $1, the bag features a design by a local artist that highlights all the interesting history and scenery in the Town of Breckenridge. The newest bag features a timeline of important Breckenridge history, as well as mountain biking, road biking, fishing, paddling, hiking and other outdoor scenes. Littleton said the bags are nice and sturdy — perfect for grocery shopping or carrying anything from retail items to picnic snacks.

"We want to ensure that lots of people can enjoy Breckenridge and keep it a sustainable tourism option," Littleton said.

That also means keeping the town's water clean, which ensures that Breckenridge's delicious mountain water stays that way. Visitors are also encouraged to carry their own reusable water bottles and enjoy the fresh, clean Breckenridge water from multiple refill stations across town. This will help the Town continue to reduce the amount of plastic that goes into the community. •