Downtown Perspective

Over the span of my life I have grown acutely self aware with regard to how my actions in the space we call Earth relate to other sentient beings and our shared environment. Growing up as an outdoorsman and rancher, I have spent a large part of my life in the natural environment and an unknown number of hours fishing. As a kid I found a great deal of joy in catching and eating fish, but as I reached my mid 20’s I took on a new ethos. Very rarely do I keep my catch in favor of taking a mental snapshot and preserving our diminishing fisheries. This is a personal conviction and at this point you must be wondering, “How does this relate to Downtown?”

One of my favorite outdoor spaces Downtown is the pool below Mission Plaza. In recent years, it has been exciting to keep an eye on and protect the three steelhead living there. This month, Downtown SLO will launch our much-anticipated Concerts in The Plaza with a new twist. We aim to lessen the event’s impact on our ecosystem by asking guests to bring reusable pint glasses or purchase canned beers from our bar.

This decision has partly been imposed by City ordinance and partly because we have been trying to find a better way to divert waste from the event. Last year, we served 21,000 drinks in bio-plastic cups under the belief that those cups would be composted into a new product or mulch. Unfortunately, that was not the case and each of those cups was landfilled. To pour salt on the wound, those cups CONTAMINATED the rest of the load in the recycling trucks that collected them. To say I felt irresponsible is an understatement. Our team knew we needed to find a better option for beverage vessels. What we didn’t anticipate is that we would be forced to do so by an ordinance sooner than later. A challenge to be sure.

The team at Downtown SLO is resilient and, as you may have seen at our Fresh Picked Concert Series at The Market, we found a great replacement for cups that is environmentally friendly, fun to drink from, and super durable. Our new Downtown SLO Silipints are now available at all of our public events, and we are encouraging people to use and reuse them many times. These Silipints keep beverages cold (or hot), dishwasher safe, and are so heat resistant that you can even set them on your hot BBQ grill and they won’t melt.

On Fridays at Concerts in the Plaza, you can help us make our event more environmentally conscious by purchasing a Downtown SLO Silipint and enjoying our premium Firestone Walker beer on draught. If you are just not into being Sili, you can still get great tasting, ice cold beer in a can. (Cider and wine, too!) Did you know the average lifecycle of an aluminum can is just 60 days from being used, recycled, and then turned into a new aluminum product? Even more impressive is the energy savings of recycling cans versus producing new ones from raw materials; which reduces energy consumption by 98%.

I feel compelled to clarify that there are some tough challenges with our move to comply with this new ordinance and still maintain an event without becoming cost prohibitive. To be blunt, we are concerned that the need to bring a cup to an event is going to drive people away. To that point, I am calling on you to consider that while a Silipint will cost you $10 one time, it is a small fee to pay to support our organization’s event, enjoy amazing beverages throughout the summer, and help protect the delicate ecosystem that is just feet away from Mission Plaza. As a business improvement organization, Downtown SLO may not be an environmental agency, but just as I have matured into a more conservation-oriented mindset, so must our business community.

I refute the claim that I am an environmentalist, as I do not fall into that camp. However, I do see myself as a conservationist. I think many of the local ranch families and outdoorsmen/women would agree that we want to preserve the natural beauty we have around us. If it means not throwing a handful of plastic into our landfills, creeks, trails, or the side of the road and instead buying a cup, then I am happy to buy that cup. Besides, these Silipints are killer for camping excursions and super fun. In a pinch they double as a football. To pick up one of our special pints, you can purchase one at the bar of Concerts in the Plaza or Fresh Picked, grab one at the Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market info booth, or shop online on our website at www.DowntownSLO.com/shop.

-Dominic Tartaglia