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Living High and Low: Navigating Food Waste in a Small Mountain Town

Updated: Nov 30, 2023


Moving to a quaint mountain town nestled at an elevation of 6,500+ feet above sea level has brought about countless changes, both anticipated and unexpected. The breathtaking views and serene landscapes offer a tranquil escape, but it has also presented unique challenges. From the difficulties of cooking at high altitudes to the daily trek from town to my home, just three blocks away, where I often find myself pausing to catch my breath - life up here is different.


One of the challenges that recently came to the forefront of my mountain-living experience is food waste. In our quest to embrace a minimal and waste-free lifestyle, we've discovered that living in a single-use world comes with its own set of complexities. What's triggered this heightened awareness of food waste? Well, it's the bears.

sustainability lifestyle


Yes, bears. These majestic creatures call this mountain town home, and I'm not exaggerating when I say you can practically see them strolling down the street, three feet from my front door on a regular basis. In light of this close coexistence with wildlife, disposing of our food waste has become an ethical and logistical puzzle. We can't place any food scraps in our regular trash bin until the morning of pickup. The reason is simple: we don't want to inadvertently feed our wild neighbors. While it might seem like a harmless gesture, it could lead to bears venturing into town in search of easy meals, putting both them and us at risk. It's a harsh reality - these animals may be euthanized if they become too comfortable in our town, a prospect that I, as an animal lover, find deeply troubling.


So, we've resorted to freezing every single food scrap for a week at a time, hoping to remember to put it out on trash day. This isn't just about protecting the bears; it's about preserving the harmonious balance of life in this mountain town. You see, the sheer quantity of food waste we generate every day has opened my eyes to a sobering reality. The guilt I feel every time I add scraps to our freezer bag is a powerful reminder of the change I need to make.

sustainable lifestyle

Now, some might suggest composting as an alternative, but it's not as straightforward as it may seem. The endeavor to keep wildlife out of your trash is no small feat, and I'm not ready to embark on that learning experience just yet. I'm hesitant about the prospect of inadvertently attracting a host of

raccoons to my garage or, even worse, the potential for luring bears, even if they can't

pry open the bins. It's a responsibility I'm not prepared to shoulder at this moment.


So, here I am, confronting my contribution to the problem of food waste. Moving to this mountain town has been a revelatory experience, one that has compelled me to change my ways. Who would have thought that such a serene place could be a catalyst for such profound realizations? In this picturesque setting, we're all stewards of the natural world, and as the guardians of this unique ecosystem, it's our duty to preserve it for the generations to come.


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