How green is Telluride?

blog-telluride-squareI had the distinct pleasure of going to a small town in Colorado with a big elevation: Telluride.  This little one stop-light town sits high in a box canyon – 8,750 feet to be exact.  With less than 2,500 residents, Telluride is the most populated town in San Miguel county, which stretches 1,288 miles through southwest Colorado.  Getting there is not for the faint of heart – whether by land vehicle or plane.

Begun as a silver mining camp, Telluride harbors some of the unfortunate vestiges of that industry – so-called “mine tailings” which contain large amounts of lead, zinc and other hazardous metals.  The town is in the process of dealing with this hazard that has plagued them for years but, in the meantime, they are striving to become a green mecca.


At only 0.7 square miles, there is no need to use a car to get around in Telluride.  I have never seen so many bicycles in one town before, and it is also easily walkable.  Each morning when I woke up, I packed up my laptop and walked up to the Steamin’ Bean, a great cafe with Wi-fi.  Even that short walk seemed longer in the altitude, but it was easily doable.

Telluride has lots of designated bicycle parking.  Pedestrians have the right-of-way, and the cars just naturally drive slower.  There is a bus system that will take you to the other side of Telluride or to a nearby town, along with a free gondola service that will take you to nearby Mountain Village nestled in at around 9,500 feet.


Telluride is host to numerous festivals throughout the year, beckoning people with its pristine beauty.  While there, I attended the annual Country & Bluegrass Festival.  I was very impressed by their no-waste policies.  How green is Telluride? Along with collecting bottles and cans, they also collected compostable food and dinnerware.  (All dinnerware used at the festival is compostable.)  They provided free filtered drinking water for those who brought their own container.  They also offered incentives for bringing back and re-using your beer cup – $2 off all subsequent beers!  They purchase carbon offsets to mitigate the carbon used for attendees to get to the festival and for the electricity used during the festival.


It was an inspiring experience!  And proof that you can put on a fun show and not trash the planet in the process.  I know there are other festivals doing similar things, such as SolarFest in Vermont.

In short, if you have a chance to go to a festival in Telluride, you should definitely do it.  You will be knocked out by the beauty and sustainability.

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