Ecotourism company Natural Habitat Adventures will attempt to fit all waste produced during a Yellowstone adventure with 14 travelers into a single small container at the end of the trip, nearly eliminating the need to send any materials to landfill. The company is calling it the World’s First Zero Waste Adventure, and designed the trip in conjunction with World Wildlife Fund in part to raise awareness of the role that plastic waste plays even in protected destinations like Yellowstone.
Waste generated during the trip – produced while in vehicles, lodges and camps throughout the park – will be recycled, composted, upcycled or re-used, the company says. Trip leaders will encourage travelers to “refuse” potential waste whenever possible, such as declining disposable straws, individually packaged condiments, and single use shampoo bottles. Travelers are also provided with “zero waste toolkits” that include personal reusable items like water bottles, mugs, cutlery and tote bags.
By inspiring travelers and partners to make conscious choices about waste, Natural Habitat aims to “create a long-lasting ripple effect.” Given that the average American produces 4.4 pounds of trash per day, the company points out there’s much room for improvement. “When travelers witness the effectiveness of waste reduction on vacation, they learn how to reduce or eliminate disposables at home, too,” the company says.
In 2007, Natural Habitat became the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company, and in May, the company announced it would offset the carbon emissions from all its guests’ international flights, as well. Nat Hab’s carbon offset program has offset more than 34.5 million pounds of CO2 emissions generated on its global nature adventures, according to the company.
Natural Habitat has settled into a lucrative and growing niche – a report on the travel industry from Booking.com released last year said that 87% of global travelers want to travel more sustainably – but believes that it needs to keep innovating in order to achieve its goal of leading the industry. “Cutting-edge conservation projects five years ago may be standard practice now,” the company says. Natural Habitat believes it must “innovate, collaborate and constantly push ourselves to raise sustainability standards internally and across the industry,” according to its website.