Ask Eartha: Visiting Summit County? Love it like a local |

Ask Eartha: Visiting Summit County? Love it like a local

Lisa Hueneke
High Country Conservation Center
One way to reduce your footprint while on vacation is to use public transportation. The countywide Summit Stage bus system is free and can transport your bike.
Hugh Carey / |

Dear Eartha,

I love visiting Summit County, but wish I could be more sustainable when I’m there. What can I do as a visitor to reduce my impact next time I visit?

— Pam, Steamboat Springs

Pam, your question comes at a great time. Summit County summers are bursting with bikers, hikers, boaters and festivalgoers. In fact, our community of 30,000 residents swells to nearly 150,000 on a peak weekend. That’s according to the county’s 2013 Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan, so it’s safe to assume those visitor numbers have grown since.

Here in Colorado, the state’s tourism office reported that 2017 domestic visitors hit a record 84.7 million. Those kinds of numbers, not to mention a growing population, create big impact on our resources. More than ever, we need people like you to help us protect the place we all love to explore. Here are my seven practical steps to love Summit County like home:

Up your reusable game

While reusable water bottles may be standard on the packing list, they are just the tip of the iceberg. Add more reusable items to your packing list such as a travel coffee mug, reusable shopping bags, Tupperware containers, cloth napkins and utensils. This arsenal will dramatically decrease your use of single-use plastic and paper items when you’re on the go. You can even use these items to pack snacks from home and save money on your flight or road trip. 

Think green when choosing your lodging

Before you confirm your lodging in Summit County, inquire about green practices and sustainable offerings such as recycling and composting. If no options exist, leave comments or suggestions in the feedback to encourage green practices at the property. Several local lodging companies are certified through Resource Wise, a countywide sustainability program for businesses.

Collect your recycling

If your lodging does not offer recycling bins, collect your recyclables and take them to one of Summit County’s 24-hour drop-off centers in Frisco, Breckenridge or Dillon. A list of locations and accepted items can be found at or by calling 970-668-5703.

Use public transportation

Public transportation can feel like a pain to figure out for a short vacation. Thankfully, the countywide Summit Stage bus system is free and can transport your bike. Buses run directly to lodging, ski areas, town centers and retail areas. Download the Summit Stage app for more information. In addition, the town of Breckenridge has a bus system called Free Ride. 

Rent an electric car

If you need a car to get around Summit County, why not try out an electric one? Car rental companies now are offering electric cars as a part of their fleet. You may not think an electric car is the best option for the mountains, but our local electric vehicle owners would beg to differ. You will see them buzzing up to the Eisenhower Tunnel and navigating easily through the snow. Renting electric is also a great way to find out for yourself what it’s like drive one while decreasing your transportation footprint. And several Summit County towns have charging stations. Find a map of all of Colorado’s charging stations at

Buy local

Summer makes it easier to find local produce, so take advantage of the Dillon Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday. You also can support local businesses that prioritize sustainability. Find a directory through the local Resource Wise sustainable business program at

Love this place like a local

We may be on vacation, but our everyday sustainable habits don’t have to be. Love this place like a local and bring with you the green habits you practice at home. This may be short showers, turning lights off when not in use, walking instead of driving or conserving water. Remember, your daily actions add up whether you are at home or on vacation.

“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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