As ambassadors of alpine conservation, we see the impacts of climate change on this fragile and critical ecosystem. While we are strategically implementing protection of the alpine, a few thousand feet lower we are operating our organization with the smallest footprint possible.
The sustainability efforts used by the Gardens, Education Center and programming are part of our organization's DNA.
See below how you can implement some of these into your business, home and garden.
Waste diversion is the process of eliminating and redirecting as much material possible from the landfill. We use the common and unique ways listed below to redirect as much waste into reuse. Our waste diversion rate has gotten as high as 80% of total waste diverted from the dump.
All waste stations at the Gardens include recycling receptacles with instructions of appropriate recyclable materials in order to keep the waste streams clean and suitable for processing. It’s important to know your collection agency’s current acceptable materials and check back periodically as they can change. Locally, you can use the Eagle County Waste Wizard to check if and where an item can be disposed of properly.
Hard to Recycle Items
The black thin plastic of plant containers and trays inhibit them from being recycled as they are made up of mixed resins and opticial readers cannot identify them. While the plant industry is working towards alternatives, they are currently a necessary evil. The containers we receive are used over and over or returned to the supplier where they are sanitized and reused. There are initiatives spreading through the United States for drop sites where this plastic can be melted down and turned into pellets.
Plastic bags and wraps cannot be put into curbside recycling but they can be taken to locations that collect them in bulk. Paper towel packaging, the bags grapes come in, bubble wrap and newspaper bags can be turned into composite lumber for a playground or pellets to make new bags or even pipes. Recycling plastic film can be as easy as taking it with you on your next grocery trip. Check here to find a collection site near you.
Cork comes from the Cork Oak Tree and can take up to 25 years until it’s able to be harvested. Once your wine cork has done its job, it can be recycled into boards, flooring, even shoes. Using this recycled cork replaces harvesting other materials for product production. Collect those wine corks and find a drop off location near you with ReCORK.
Compostable bags line our trashcans and when a more hefty bag is needed, we use Revolution Bags. Rather than virgin resin, these liners use agricultural irrigation tubing that is only used for one growing season. Revolution Bags are made up of 70% post-consumer recycled resin.
Household Hazardous Waste:
Items such as motor oil, paint, batteries and pesticides are toxic and can corrode, catch fire or explode under certain circumstances. If poured down the drain, these toxins can reach our streams.
The Gardens collects all HHW for proper and safe disposal. HHW can be taken to the Eagle County Household Hazardous Waste Facility. Paint can be taken to local stores like Vail Valley Ace Hardware or Sherwin Williams.
E-waste can leach lead and mercury into the soil and water system when improperly disposed. It can also contain valuable non-renewable resources such as gold, platinum, aluminum and cobalt. It’s important to collect these unused or inoperable electronics and take them to your local landfill e-waste department or send to a program such as Cellular Recycler. You could even make some cash!
The Town of Vail hosts two HHW/E-Waste collection events in the spring and fall. Check their website and local newspaper for these annual dates.
Betty Ford Alpine Gardens pays close attention to collect all these materials that have a place outside of the landfill.
Organic waste sent to the landfill emits methane gas, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. By keeping this waste out of the landfill and repurposing it back into rich soil, we can help lower the ozone hole depletion and create a closed circle system beneficial to gardening.
Create a backyard compost bin and composting in the winter.
It can take a lot of resources to keep a world class alpine botanic garden at its peak. Our horticulture team uses best sustainable gardening practices to minimize this usage and to utilize natural systems.
Visit our Sustainable Gardening page for more information.
Built in 2015 with efficiency and the natural surroundings in mind.
Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Gift Shop in Vail Village & Schoolhouse Gift Shop in the Children’s Garden
Both stores offer a variety of local & nationally sourced items that support the gardens work in education, horticulture and conservation.
The Gift Shops feature items from artists and producers in Vail Valley, neighboring valleys and Colorado. In supporting our community, we cut down on shipping emissions.
The gift shops use all biodegradable packaging including EPI 100% biodegradable bags from Colorado.
If a producer uses plastic or excessive packaging, we make a call to ask for alternative options.
You won’t find single-use plastic or styrofoam in our operations! We opt for more easily recycled aluminum or paper-based products.
In 2017, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens became an Actively Green certified organization through Walking Mountains Science Center, a program recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. We are committed to the pillars of efficiency, longevity, ethics and culture.
Along with over 70 other Eagle County business, we are "elevating performance with the use of best management practices specific to sustainability principles".
Vail, where Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is located, became the first Sustainable Destination mountain resort in the world and the first Sustainable Destination in the United States by Green Destinations. It takes a strong community of businesses, citizens and visitors to commit to a pathway to a more sustainable future.
2022 Actively Green Business of the Year -Vail Valley Partnership
2022 Best Sustainable Organization -Vail Daily’s Reader’s Choice Awards
2021 Best Green Team -Actively Green
2021 #3 Favorite Sustainable Business -Actively Green
2020 Town of Vail Cleanest Recycler -Actively Green
2020 #1 Sustainable Business in Eagle County
Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement (EVOM)
A group of local non-profits and organizations “striving to provide equal access to outdoor spaces and opportunities for youth and families in Eagle Valley”. We’ve teamed up with Walking Mountains Science Center to provide no-cost field trips and activities to our community members interested in getting more in touch with their local surroundings.
Inspiring future environmental leaders. One to two high school interns studying environmental leadership join our summer team for real life experience in an environmental organization. We also host four college interns a year with specialties in horticulture, education and conservation.
Climate Action Collaborative (CAC)
The Gardens is a stakeholer in helping implement the Climate Action Plan for Eagle County. The Gardens is also a member of the CAC specialized working groups of Natural Climate Solutions and Water.
Sustainable Destination Committee
The Gardens is part of the group that led the way to Vail becoming the first town in the United States to become a certified Sustainable Destination.
Colorado Tourism Office, Care for Colorado Coalition
Along with the work the Gardens puts into protecting the alpine, we’ve joined this special coalition of more than 100 statewide organizations to help promote Leave No Trace principles to “protect the state’s extraordinary natural and cultural resources”.
The Climate Toolkit
The 100th organization to join! “A collaborative opportunity for museums, gardens and zoos who want to learn how to aggressively address climate change within their own organizations and inspire the communities they serve to follow their lead.
Currently, the Climate Toolkit embraces thirty-two goals for addressing climate change within the categories of energy, food service, transportation, plastics, landscapes and horticulture, investments, visitors and research. The goals were determined through a collaborative process with input from members of the Directors of Large Gardens group.
Citizen Science Projects
Click here to learn more about our alpine conservation efforts, partnerships and citizen science projects.
Along with Denver Botanic Gardens, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens piloted and is executing the goals “to encourage plant conservation organizations to contribute to the collective goal of conserving North American alpine plants and their habitats”, “provide a framework for North American botanic gardens to address the environmental and climate change challenges facing alpine ecosystems” and “highlight the critical role that botanic gardens can play in research, conservation, and education”. Click the link to learn more about the objectives and targets.