Recycling reminders, children's drawings of planet earth plastered on the refrigerator and an increase in the term "green" are popping up more and more this month.
West Yellowstone still has plenty of snow on the ground, but community members are seeing and thinking green with Earth Day only three weeks away.
It's an expansively impacting concept that for one day out of the year, April 22, people across the globe recognize how to "be green," educate their peers, maybe plant a tree and focus on sustainability. Even more encouraging though are locals like Two Seasons Recycling owner Gus Tureman and the Green Up West Yellowstone group that concentrate on "being green" 365 days a year.
These local resources are happy to enlighten people about greening up their daily lives.
Household utilities act as a great starter model to think about energy consumption and how much people use in day-to-day life. Electricity, water and heat are three common utilities that residents in West Yellowstone pay for each month. Switching off the lights, lowering the thermostat when no one's at home, unplugging appliances when they're not being used and turning off the faucet are simple ways to cut energy consumption.
An entire section of information and education materials about green living are made available to the public at the United States Environmental Protection Agency's website, www.epa.gov. A section devoted to water conservation explains that by turning off the tap while brushing your teeth in the morning and at bedtime can save up to eight gallons of water per day, equaling 240 gallons saved per month. And, by replacing traditional light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs people can reduce energy use at home and greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to global climate change, according to information on the ENERGY STAR website, www.energystar.com.
These products don't need to be purchased at a special store, nor do they carry astronomically high price tags. They are easily accessible to daily consumers.
In West Yellowstone, Westmart stocks their shelves with a good selection of CFL lighting options. The packaging on a GE brand 15 watt bulb boasts an energy savings of $45 per bulb and can replace a traditional 60 watt bulb, while lasting for up to six years before it needs to be replaced.
"If everybody were to replace their traditional bulbs with energy efficient lighting they'd be able to shut down several nuclear plants in America," Westmart employee Clark Duncan said.
He also stocks Westmart with energy-saving home appliances. The estimated yearly operating cost for one Whirlpool brand washing machine was a surprisingly low $13.
"Most of the washing machines around (West Yellowstone) are probably older models," Duncan said. Some older model washing machines can cost upwards of $60 to operate each year. That's a $47 cost difference for a newer, more energy efficient model.
"It's the upfront costs that hurt people the most, but it pays off," Duncan said.
Various tax credits and rebates are also available for consumers who purchase ENERGY STAR appliances with upgraded energy efficiency standards. Information on tax credits and ENERGY STAR guidelines for appliances can be found on the website.
Being green can be simple and inexpensive with resources available at the public library or a neighbor who sorts their recycling each week. One environmental website even pointed out that by checking out books and films from a local library instead of purchasing new ones cuts down on paper, ink and oil usage, and there's no cost to be a card-carrying member of the West Yellowstone Public Library.
Starting with other basics like recycling in the home or carpooling with a friend to Bozeman are great ways to go green. If someone decides to walk to work or the grocery store, they're already doing a small part to reduce the energy usage and fuel consumption right here in West Yellowstone. More and more people are concentrating on water conservation and reusable water bottles, demonstrating another great way to cut out the purchase of bottled water, which in turn saves money.
One bottle may not seem like much by itself, but a lot of bottles amount to a lot of excess waste.
Tureman has learned the extensive impacts that can be made through sustainability efforts after being in the recycling business for six years.
"Recycling is just one little niche in this whole thing," Tureman said. A friend turned him into a self-proclaimed "green bug" when she explained the importance of sustainability and just how broad the topic is.
"There's energy conservation, water conservation and so many other parts to it," Tureman said.
He splits his time between a myriad of businesses in West Yellowstone, working to collect and sort the constant stream of recyclables passing through the bins at Two Seasons Recycling, helping his wife, Linda, run the Canyon Street Grill and completing small improvements to his home in the meantime.
Tureman has proudly seen an increase in recycling at the Two Seasons Recycling residential drop-off center, located at 105 Hayden St., since he re-opened the facility to the public nearly two years ago.
"There were a quarter million or more plastic bottles dropped off at the center last year," he said.
Various plastics and plastic bags, tin and aluminum, newsprint, office paper and cardboard can all be disposed of at the drop-off center. Users can easily sort recyclables themselves or drop them into clearly marked separation bins on site.
Tureman and his employees couldn't keep the bins empty on weekends with popular events like the Rendezvous Race and World Snowmobile Expo this winter. Summer is an even busier time for the center with visitors contributing to the town's recycling numbers.
"We empty the bags behind the bins three or four times a day. Recycling has gotten easier for people," he said.
Tureman has even noticed more people walking or riding bicycles as a means of getting from place to place in town.
"I have one couple that walks by everyday and they always drop something off to recycle," he said. "You meet some really neat people at the recycling center."
Tureman compacts the recyclables into tightly bound cubes using a large bailing machine before he hauls them off to a larger facility in Four Corners.
He and West Yellowstone deputy mayor Pierre Martineau compiled a list of results and found that 42,000 pounds of cardboard, 9,000 pounds of plastic bottles and bags, 1,200 pounds of steel cans, 2,700 pounds of aluminum cans, 11,000 pounds of newsprint and 850,000 sheets of office paper were dropped off at Two Seasons in 2010 alone.
"Little things amount to big building blocks," Tureman said.
He has furthered his green efforts by recycling at home and at the Canyon Street Grill. He upgraded to using biodegradable takeout containers for food items, recycling everything they can from the kitchen, and replacing the lighting and ice machine with energy efficient models.
"It's the really common things that you can do and it saves you money," he said.
More information about sustainability and recycling can be found at the Green Up West Yellowstone Facebook page at www.facebook.com.
"It's part of my mission statement that I want to be a resource for people," Tureman said in regards to educating people about sustainability and recycling.
Most importantly, he wants folks to know is that every little thing we do that is "green" adds up to big results.
"The number one fact in recycling is that you can make a difference," Tureman concluded.