An Earth Day Chat with Melanie Conti, Truckee Sustainability Analyst

  • Apr 26, 2021

Happy Earth Day!

 This past year, many of us have come to depend on our favorite outdoor spaces more than ever. And here in Tahoe – that means a lot!

Today - whether you’re local to us or a bit farther away, we ask you take a moment to step outside, appreciate the world we live in, and consider how you can help protect it this upcoming year.

In honor of Earth Day, we spoke with Melanie Conti, Sustainability Analyst for the Town of Truckee. Melanie works on solid waste, recycling, and greenhouse gas reduction programs, as well as the community’s climate adaptation plan. She moved to Tahoe in 2017 as a recent graduate of California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and began working for the Town of Truckee as an Intern – growing into the position she holds today. When she’s not working, you can find Melanie skiing, running, and paddleboarding. 


 What’s Truckee Doing About LITTER?

 Truckee is famous for its natural beauty – but getting so much love brings a problem we’ve all noticed – litter. “Especially this past summer, we’ve seen a huge influx of visitors and waste throughout the town and the outdoors, so we’re trying to encourage pack-it-in, pack-it-out,” Melanie explains, along with providing enough trash resources for the increased volume. And managing litter is a huge part of Melanie’s day.  

 Truckee has a few NEW programs designed to tackle this problem.  

 Next time you’re downtown, take a closer look at the trashcans. They’ve been switched out with solar compactors - which hold three times the volume of traditional bins!  

 And what about the trash that doesn’t make it in the bins? Truckee, in coordination with other North Lake Tahoe communities, is beginning a partnership with Clean Tahoe. This organization already works with the City of South Lake Tahoe to clean up heavily visited areas. Melanie can’t wait to start working with them. 


How Can I Help Clean Up?

The most important step we can take is creating LESS waste to begin with. And Truckee has a program for that. Next time you’re picking up food from a participating restaurant, ask for a reusable to-go box. Buy your first box for $5, and trade it in for a clean container every time you dine-out from one of these local eateries.

But – what about the trash that’s already on the ground? The Truckee Litter Corps is a volunteer crew that picks up trash on the first Saturday of every warm month – when weather allows. Truckee recently hosted its first volunteer clean up day at Donner Lake, with huge success! The second cleanup of the season will be on Earth Day, in downtown Truckee.

Or – if you’d rather pick up at your own pace – the Grab a Bag program works with 11 local businesses that provide clean up supplies. Residents can pick up trash bags and gloves from these locations, and earn discounts and prizes when they return with a full sack.

Finally – if you see trash that needs to be dealt with – Melanie encourages you to use the Request Truckee online tool. Save this link, or download the app, snap pictures of problems you encounter around town, and send them directly to town staff to be addressed. “It’s a really cool tool to streamline efforts,” according to Melanie. 


What About Climate Change?

Winter brings one of our favorite natural resources – in piles. And our town depends on this snow, for our favorite sports as well as for our tourism economy. The Town of Truckee’s approach to mitigating the effects of climate change is two-fold. They’re evaluating both their climate change impacts and their options for adapting to the problem. Their aim is to reduce emissions by 80% by 2040. These climate plans will be integrated into the Town’s new General Plan. 

The General Plan Update is a long process and we’ve had a lot of community members participating to build that blueprint for the town,” Melanie explains. “A part of that is the Climate Action Element, which will prepare our community for the effects of climate change.” 

Visit to provide your input and learn more about the town general plan update process. The General Plan Advisory Committee meets regularly through zoom, and ALL residents are invited to join! 


Celebrating Earth Day

The Town of Truckee is partnering with the Sierra Watershed Education Partnership (SWEP) on their Trashion Show. Normally, this student fashion show happens at Squaw’s Earth Day celebration. However – due to COVID – they’ve moved the 2021 runway to Donner Pass Road.

The Town of Truckee will be on site at the Trashion Show, talking about their sustainability programs from the ACE Mountain Hardwear parking lot. They’ll be handing out oil kits (with oil containers, funnels, and oil pads) to encourage people to change their vehicle oil at home responsibly. They’ll also be distributing, bamboo utensils, and reusable propane cylinders, which you can bring back to ACE Mountain Hardware to be filled. 

Looking to win National Park Pass, gift cards to local stores, and other prizes? Join their Earth Day bingo challenge. Ready to clean up litter with your community? Visit to help clean up Truckee.  

Earth Day-Truckee-volunteer

Truckee Needs Your Help!

Whether you’re cleaning up litter, reducing your personal take-out dining waste, or participating in the Climate Resiliency planning process – Melanie Conti hopes you take the time to get involved in your community in 2021.

Last June, Truckee Day saw a huge rise in participation. Over 1000 volunteers turned out to clean up Truckee’s streets, an increase from 700-800 in the previous year. After watching our community come together to support each other during COVID, Melanie is feeling optimistic.  She notes, “We’re hoping to harness that energy and get people into our litter clean up program and other events as we look towards to future.” 

Looking for more Earth Day Events and volunteer opportunities? Check out our last blog for all the details. Or – explore our recommendations for sustainable promotional products your clients will use again and again!

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