Jul 272010
Authors: Emily Johnson

When it comes to getting things done, collaborations are an effective strategy. And a local non-profit organization said it’s doing just that.

Trees, Water & People, TWP, has teamed up with Montana-based Pura Stainless to promote environmental sustainability.

“If everyone recycled, many of our environmental problems would be solved,” said Heather Herrell, TWP development director. “But that’s not the case, so we are implementing other ideas.”

Pura contacted TWP earlier this year inviting the organization to be part of its Green15 program, which helps organizations and corporations contribute to the sustainability movement.

Pura designs eco-friendly stainless-steel water bottles displaying both the brand names of Pura and its partnering organization then donates 15 percent of each sale to an environmentally friendly organization of the partner’s choosing.

“For every bottle sold, we receive a donation,” Herrell said. “We decided to step it up a notch and use the proceeds to benefit yet another cause.”

TWP has promised to plant a tree for every one of its water bottles sold. The trees will be planted in one of its 15 community nurseries in South America. Since 1998, TWP has planted more than 3.5 million trees.

When asked why residents in Fort Collins, or any American citizen, should care about trees planted in Central America, Herrell said that tropical deforestation affects climate change, which affects everyone in the world.

“Removing trees from the forest contributes to global warming, as does the burning of wood,” Herrell said, referring to the carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere. “Less trees means less oxygen in the air around us.”

Planting trees is only part of the solution.

TWP fosters environmental health in many ways and has been instrumental in developing fuel-efficient stoves for South American countries, building supplemental solar heating systems on American Indian reservations and implementing programs to protect the Rocky Mountain headwaters.

The non-profit hosts more than 165 volunteer events and planted more than 5,000 new trees in Northern Colorado. TWP has formed partnerships with other groups to create global sustainable communities.

Kelsi Ottenbacher, a former TWP International Development intern, believes in the programs that TWP implements.

“Their community-based approach fosters project sustainability and beneficiaries are encouraged to have a say in the future of their communities,” Ottenbacher said.
“Personal relationships are very important to TWP’s management style, making their programs relevant, direct and wholesome. Without this, their mission of fostering environmental sustainability would be impossible.”

Ottenbacher graduated from CSU with a degree in sociology and a certificate in international development in May.

Lindsey Middendorf, another TWP intern from CSU, said TWP’s projects are founded on firm beliefs in environmental sustainability –– something she too believes in.

“I hope to someday work for an environmental non-profit organization, and working at TWP illustrated to me how I can utilize the writing, planning, organization and communication skills that I am developing through my graduate studies in the non-profit world,” she said.

Not only is TWP positively impacting the world through its sustainability projects, CSU interns are being transformed as well.

“Working with TWP taught me a lot about myself and what I ultimately want to do with my life, which is to help improve people’s lives by helping the communities in which they live,” said Kalyn Clemens, an alumna of CSU’s Journalism and Technical Communications Program.

“It was incredible to witness the impact we had on the world,” Clemens said. “Working at TWP as it was growing was really valuable to me because it’s important for me to work with an organization that is passionate about their work.”

Staff writer Emily Johnson can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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