Ask Eartha: How to make your business more sustainable |

Ask Eartha: How to make your business more sustainable


Dear Eartha,

I have a lot of good habits at home, but when it comes to greening operations at my small business, I don’t know where to start. Do you have any tips?

If you’re like me, your home has become your office, complete with kids and dogs making cameos in video calls. But the good news is that regardless of where you work — home office, actual office, retail store, restaurant, etc. — it’s easy to apply the sustainability habits you have at home to your real life workplace. From simple fixes to more involved building retrofits, here are some ideas that will help your business improve energy efficiency, reduce waste and save money.

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency might not be sexy, but it’s really important in Summit County’s cold climate. Losing warm air through leaks in your building can account for up to 40% of your overall heating costs. Who wants to pay to heat the outdoors? Plus, a drafty building isn’t comfortable for customers or staff. Beyond comfort and saving money, energy efficiency is also good for the planet. Energy use accounts for 65% of Summit County’s carbon emissions, so by improving our buildings, we help fight climate change, too.

A great way to understand how your business or commercial building uses energy is to receive free sustainability consulting through the High Country Conservation Center’s Resource Wise program. Their energy experts will give your building a thorough assessment, and what they find might surprise you! Beyond sealing those pesky leaks, here are some other great ways to improve energy efficiency:

  • Upgrade lighting to LEDs
  • Upgrade to Energy Star appliances
  • Install lighting sensors

Waste reduction

Another area to focus on is your purchasing practices and waste stream. Nationally, Americans compost and recycle 34% of our waste. But here in Summit, we fall short, composting and recycling just 19% of our waste. Want to help our community do a better job? Here are a few ideas:

  • Place recycling, and compost bins where appropriate, next to every garbage can
  • Set up glass recycling (glass cannot be mixed in with single-stream recycling)
  • Provide durable and reusable serve ware in break areas

Local leaders

You’re not alone in thinking about how to make our community a greener place to live, work and play. In fact, the Resource Wise program has more than 250 participating local businesses. And every year, the High Country Conservation Center recognizes their efforts by giving awards to five outstanding businesses. The improvements they have made might inspire you to take action, too:

Rookie of the Year: Wild & Free

Wild & Free earned the highest score among all businesses that joined Resource Wise in 2020. The secret to their success? The new Dillon business upgraded all their lighting to LEDs.

Recycling Champion: Mountain Dweller Coffee Roasters

Frisco-based Mountain Dweller Coffee Roasters had the highest waste diversion rate this year. Beyond recycling practices, Mountain Dweller also gives their coffee roasting leftovers to a local rancher for cow feed. Talk about full circle!

Energy Champion: Wedgewood Lodge

Wedgewood Lodge in Breckenridge completed a substantial LED lighting upgrade, resulting in a huge reduction in their total energy use and energy bill.

Most Improved: Chimayo Grill

By upgrading all their lights to LEDs, Chimayo Grill in Dillon improved their Resource Wise score the most this year. And they’re eager to keep making sustainability improvements.

Peak of Sustainability: Innovative Family Dental

For the second year in a row, Innovative Family Dental in Dillon maintained the highest overall score in the Resource Wise program. Truly innovative, they continue finding new ways to keep waste out of Summit County’s landfill.

Join the club

Ready to take action? Join Resource Wise to receive free expert sustainability advice for your business. They’ll even help you pay for improvements you make. And check out other sustainable businesses across Summit County by browsing the green business directory at

Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at


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