Women Rocking The Boat - Sarah Jones - Doin' So Much
Story by Deb Olsen/Photo by Corey Kopischke
Being around Sarah Jones makes you squirm a little at the thought of the empty pizza box that went into the trash instead of the recycling bin last night. That’s not really fair because Jones is not judgmental. She says people should do what they can for the environment, and be aware.
It’s just that Jones does so much.
The new executive director of Yampa Valley Sustainability Council has only been in Steamboat Springs for two years. In that time, she has been involved with recycling through the schools, the Zero Waste Initiative and Re-Tree Colorado.
“The key is to have recycling become part of the culture and the schools,” says Jones, who earned her master’s degree in environmental geochemistry at CU-Boulder. She has two school-age sons, which may be why so much of her attention has been focused on education.
She developed a team of “energy ninjas” last school year – students who left anonymous sticky notes reminding people of the need to conserve resources. Even teachers weren’t exempt; an empty classroom with the lights on likely warranted a “you could be doing better” note on the light switch.
The school’s “dream team” works with the principal to reward energy efficiency. This summer, Jones is developing guides for teachers, and she is helping plan the annual sustainability assembly in schools during the fall.
Her husband is on the same page, she says, when it comes to recycling, but it’s their children who have most sincerely taken her conservation message to heart. “The kids are super-aware,” she says. “They’re perhaps the most outspoken of all of us.”
Under Jones’ auspices, the sustainability council is working on a countywide economic development initiative related to energy efficiency upgrades. The hope is to develop a program using local contractors to follow projects from home audit to completion – whether that’s installation of an alternative heating system or building a new house. “If everybody reduces their energy use, then that’s the best thing,” she says. “I would love for sustainability to become something that’s accessible to everybody.”