MARCH 16, 2019 BY 

By Suzie Romig, Talking Green column for Steamboat Pilot & Today

Next to queries about recycling, one of the most common questions asked of the staff at Yampa Valley Sustainability Council follows the theme of “how can one person really make a difference when environmental problems can be overwhelming?”

Oftentimes, one person can make a bigger difference by facilitating a group effort, such as creating an active and effective green team at a business, organization or school. The council often hears comments such as, “We used to have a green team, but I’m not sure what happened to it,” “We have sort of a green team, but we really don’t have enough participation to get anything done,” or “I think I can get folks interested to start a green team, but what would we do?”

Whether your organizational green team is a dream or is in need of rejuvenation and purpose, the Sustainability Council invites the community to learn more during the free Lunch and Learn event, “How to Build Your Organization’s Green Team” at noon Thursday, March 21.

Educators from Golden-based McKinstry, which has worked with a variety of local entities ranging from Routt County to South Routt School District, will talk about successful techniques and other programs in Colorado that have helped with employee behavioral engagement to support sustainability goals.

Alison Schwabe, behavior engagement program manager at McKinstry, pointed out some common barriers for positive behavior change such as lack of knowledge, inertia, procrastination, structural barriers and lack of social pressure and motivation. Some of the guiding principals of behavior change include communication, prompts, incentives, peer influence, social norming, visibility, feedback, convenience and competition.

Sustainability Council program directors will be on hand at the Lunch and Learn to answer questions about local programs that can support green team goals in areas such as waste diversion, energy efficiency and conservation, greener transportation or environmentally oriented community service projects.

Local business green teams can volunteer with the Sustainability Council ReTree program to improve Yampa River riparian zones and work on team-building skills at the same time. Groups can compete in Sustainability Council‘s monthlong Commuter Challenge to inspire community members of all ages to walk, bike, ride the bus or carpool.

Green teams at restaurants can work to increase recycling and reduce food waste, and businesses of all sizes can reduce their energy use through signing up for a basic commercial energy assessment, instituting efficiency measures and working together for occupant behavior change.

Everyone is welcome to attend the April 21 educational event, however an RSVP is required in advance for a free lunch by visiting the calendar of events section at


What:  Yampa Valley Sustainability Council Community Lunch and Learn: How to Build Your Organization’s Green Team
When:  Noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, March 21
Where:  Routt County Commissioners Hearing Room, 522 Lincoln Ave.
Cost: Free, open to all, RSVP required for lunch at

Suzie Romig is the energy outreach director for the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.