Going for Green in Lyons
By Kathleen Thurmes
The Town of Lyons has a distinct personality. It was once described to me as, “fifteen miles north of Boulder and 50 years back,” referring to the profusion of tie-dye, long hair, and jam bands that can still be found in this town. But I suspect that it refers to the town’s values, as well.
One of the things that has struck me most about Lyons has been the abundance of businesses that take their environmental impact very seriously. Not just in the “Look! We painted everything green for Earth Day!” sort of way, but in meaningful ways that speak to the underlying values of the people who own
the businesses and to those of their customers.
Nearly everyone in the county could tell you about Planet Bluegrass and how astronomically ahead of the times they are in terms of their waste reduction. A festival with reusable plates? That’s largely unheard of outside of Planet Bluegrass events, but as people become more consciousness of their environmental footprint, I hope that we’ll be seeing a lot more of those mobile dishwashers in unexpected places.
Of course, Sam and Mindy at The Stone Cup need to be mentioned in any piece about local businesses producing very little waste. Nearly all major coffee chains, including Starbucks, use to-go cups that are not recyclable or compostable, making them a one-time-use object that is destined to spend millenia in the landfill. The Stone Cup, on the other hand, has nearly eliminated their use of single-use disposable containers by switching to compostable to-go cups and keeping a mountain of ceramic mugs on hand for customers who linger over their morning coffee. Sam and Mindy’s evangelism for composting, paired with their knowledge and experience set them up as perfect resources for other businesses that want to “go green.”
The Lyons Farmette offers classes on sustainable practices such as composting, gardening, and beekeeping and hosts low-impact events in their two venues in Lyons.
Grace Design, which lies just barely outside of Lyons, uses shipping containers for their electronic equipment that are 100 percent recyclable. Oskar Blues has the Can’d Aid Foundation, which makes grants to make public events less wasteful. BrightHeart Productions rents out wedding and event supplies to prevent place settings and decorations from becoming single-use items. The Fork feeds their kitchen scraps to pigs. Nearly every business I have interacted with in Lyons uses recycling services in some form or another. The list can go on and on.
One of the neat things going on in the business sustainability world in Lyons right now is that Eco-Cycle is offering special Zero Waste services to Lyons businesses for free through the month of July as part of the Green Star Community Project. So far, the response has been tremendously positive as we’ve been working to get the word out that walk-throughs, audits, and employee trainings are available for Lyons businesses without charge. Businesses here seem to be eager to listen to ideas about how to make their operations more sustainable.
In many ways, US Highway 36 northbound may seem like an asphalt-paved time machine leading back to the 1960s. But one thing is for sure, businesses in Lyons are ahead of the times in terms of thinking about their environmental impacts.