X-Games Champion, Gretchen Bleiler, Promotes Eco-Friendly Living
Pro-snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler has made a habit of taking championship trophies home. Now the X-Games halfpipe gold medalist hopes that fans will join her in starting a new habit: giving up disposable plastic water bottles. The “21 Day Reusable Challenge” encourages people to create a habit, (it takes 21 days to build one), to benefit our habitat.
Gretchen shared her story of environmental activism with Act:
Act: How has your career and childhood in Colorado shaped your environmental initiatives?
Gretchen: Growing up in Colorado was really a dream come true, where I got to do things like climb 14,000 foot peaks in the summer and skin up to 10th Mountain Division Huts and build snow caves in the winter. Those early experiences really helped me to respect our environment at a young age. Then becoming a professional snowboarder, where I’ve been chasing the snow year-round for the past 10 years, I’ve really seen the effects of climate change firsthand. After getting the silver medal in the 2006 Winter Olympics, I realized I had a platform to make a difference and talk about issues that were important to me.
You and hubby Chris Hotell have teamed up to re-launch your 21 Day Reusable Challenge. It sounds great! How can young people participate in it?
Yes, we are launching another 21 Day Reusable Challenge this Earth Day, April 22, 2011! The idea behind the 21 Day Reusable Challenge is that it takes 21 days to build a habit, and the challenge is simple. There are three categories in the challenge, and you can commit to one or all three: 1) No plastic water bottles for 21 days (Carry your own reusable water bottle with you and fill up at the tap) 2) No plastic grocery bags for 21 days (Be sure to bring your reusable bags with you when you go to the store) and 3) No Styrofoam take-away food containers (Use a reusable food container instead)…. If you complete the challenge you may just end up creating a habit and changing your lifestyle in a way that makes you feel good about yourself and your impact on our earth!
Your ALEX revolutionary water bottle is having its 1 Year bEARTHday this year. How did you come up with this idea? How is ALEX different from other reusable water bottles?
The idea for the bottle came while trying to clean a couple reusable water bottles at the sink, actually. Because most reusable water bottles have just a small mouth opening at the top, cleaning them ends up being really time-consuming and it never really feels like you’re actually getting them clean anyway! Sooner or later, your water starts to smell because of the bacteria build-up and then you have to throw them out/recycle them. Having a bottle that you could open up in the middle seemed like it could save a ton of time and make being sustainable simple for people–so we pursued it…. Our goal was to make ALEX a fashionable accessory that you could really customize and make your own–-men and women alike.
What are some ways people can help the environment every day?
Ttake the 21 Day Reusable Challenge and then just live it; that’s a great first step. Then, if you want to add another category to challenge yourself even more, try getting off coffee cups too. Start bringing your own mug with you to the coffee shop.
As one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year and creator of the Snow Angels Invitational (the first all-girls half pipe competition and photo shoot), it’s clear you have big dreams! What are your suggestions to young people who want to make their dreams a reality?
Figure out what it is you want and then go after it with all of your heart. When you’re doing what you love, your days are filled with energy and excitement because you believe in what you’re doing…. I’m a big proponent of setting goals–long-term and short-term–and scheduling them in order to make these dreams come true so that there is a constant direction and a purpose to your everyday life…. Everyone has challenging days, but it’s these goals that help motivate you to stay on track.
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