I’m just back from a vacation in Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico (which is why I haven’t posted). I went there for the hiking, the food and the culture, all of which were just terrific, but I couldn’t help but stumble across some interesting examples of sustainability.
Santa Fe has a very active “buy local” group called the Santa Fe Alliance that is supported by local merchants, the city government, nonprofits, banks and even the New Mexican newspaper which is not local at all. (It’s owned by Gannett, and it’s a truly mediocre rag.) In any event, people who get a “locals care” card earn Community Points for shopping at local businesses; they can then spend the points in town, and when they do, they also support a local nonprofit. “By helping hometown businesses to thrive, the Alliance seeks to enrich community and create a prosperous regional economy,” the group says. Very impressive.
In Taos, meanwhile, you can ride a bus powered by waste vegetable oil, buy electricity from wind power and hire any one of a number of real estate agents with special expertise is living off the grid. An active local group called Sustain Taos publishes a green guide with info on local farming, recycling, solar and wind power, hybrid vehicles (the school system is switching over to them), energy conservation, etc–amazing for a town of less than 10,000 people. Taos is home to Earthship Biotecture, a company offering cutting-edge sustainable homes.
In Taos, we stayed in an upscale and very lovely hotel call El Monte Sagrado that says it is “Renowned for its commitments to ecological preservation and sustainability.” We were told that the shampoo in the room includes 70% certified organic ingredients, the body lotion 76% organic certified ingredients and the conditioner a whopping 87% certified organic ingredients (including sage, pinon, juniper, lavender and lime). On the other hand, the hotel gave away bottles of Fiji water-not exactly an earth-friendly product.