Park City is a fantastic place to live and recreate, but it's certainly not perfect. As a town that relies heavily on keeping winters white and snowy, one of the top priorities is, of course, sustainability; and climate change ranks as the highest concern for many residents. If you've been staying up-to-date with the latest from local government, you probably know that Park City has North America's most ambitious climate goals. Specifically, Park City is aiming to reach net-zero carbon emissions and run on 100% renewable electricity for city operations by 2022; and for the whole community by 2032. To get the whole town involved in the effort, Park City's environmental sustainability team is hosting a series of events and info sessions throughout the year to help locals understand climate change and how it relates to different aspects of their lives.
According to Environmental Sustainability Project Manager Celia Peterson, Park City is an ideal incubator for ambitious sustainability goals, given its relatively small size (roughly 7,000 permanent residents). To break down the lofty goals into something more approachable this year, the environmental sustainability team recently re-launched the "My Sustainable Year" campaign (originally from 2010) with a few tweaks.
"We want to keep the focus on events and social aspects of sustainable living practices" says Peterson. "We're planning on having at least one science talk and one fun event each month during the year. It takes three to four weeks to change a habit, so looking at a different topic on a monthly basis is also a great way to create new sustainable practices." For January, the aim is to empower people with information and to help make these sustainability goals attainable with two events: Disruption, a talk from climate change expert Dr. Rob Davies at the Park City Hospital on January 14 from 6:30-8 p.m.; and climate change themed trivia during a special edition of MegaMind Pub Quiz at Flanagan's downstairs from 7-9 p.m. on January 16.
In February, the focus will shift to residents and everything that people can do to make their homes more sustainable. March is all about energy. April focuses on water--a particularly hot issue in Utah especially during the drier summer months. May is about climate change and health. During June, July, and August, the sustainability team will be tackling transportation, our connection to local flora and fauna, and food choices, respectively. September's theme is air, another big concern in this area; and October takes on climate change's impact on business and the economy. November hones in on "stuff," or rather how we can shift to a circular economy where items are built to last, refurbished, recycled, and up-cycled rather than sent to the landfill. In December, the year will conclude with a look at our values as they pertain to climate change.
While the hope is that many Parkites will embrace all of the monthly challenges, just changing a few habits can go a long way. "The easiest and most accessible things to change in your life completely depend on the individual," says Peterson. "One person may really be interested in riding their bike or taking transit, others are more inclined to change their diet, or make their homes more sustainable. Focusing on one thing per month is our way of getting people to dip their toes in the pool and not overwhelming anyone." The key is to start small. For example, make sure you're following Park City's anti-idling ordinance by turning off your engine if you're going to be waiting somewhere for more than 10 seconds. It's a simple way to dramatically reduce pollutants in the air (which are particularly harmful to children) while saving a little money on fuel.
So what about all those tourists that balloon the population of Park City to many times its actual size for a majority of the year? Peterson admits visitors to Park City add complexity, but the team is working on ideas to tackle the tourist population. Right now, they're picking the low hanging fruit, the powder-loving locals.