Last year, more than 330 million people visited the national parks and with Labor Day weekend around the corner, parks across the country are likely to see a surge of visitor traffic. While everyone is encouraged to visit a national park in their area, with more visitors comes more waste that the National Park Service (NPS) must manage. Each year, NPS manages nearly 100 million pounds of visitor waste nationally, much of which is brought in from outside the parks.
Subaru of America, Inc. and National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) conducted research that included everything from analytics to dumpster-diving and found plastic waste, such as water bottles, plastic bags, non-recyclable or compostable food packaging, and paper hot cups, are among the main drivers of waste sent to landfills and a big concern in the national parks.
While visitor waste is a major issue in the parks, Americans can make a difference to help keep parks beautiful during this holiday weekend by following these simple tips:
Opt for Online
While paper maps can be a parks staple, there are smartphone apps that provide the same information and more. Even without cell service, some national park apps will give helpful information about where you can spot wildlife or catch a beautiful sunset. Find and download these national park apps before you head out to the park to make sure you are ready to go when you arrive.
Take Along That Favorite Mug
Bring a reusable coffee mug from home or buy one from the souvenir shop to help reduce the 58 billion paper cups are sent to America’s landfills every year.
BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle)
Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. Keep a refillable water bottle on hand or buy one at gift shop and take advantage of convenient refilling stations around the park.
Ditch the Plastic Bag
Help reduce waste by not taking a plastic bag for your souvenirs or groceries that you bring into the parks. Instead, bring your own reusable bag or tote for your items to help eliminate plastic bag waste.
Take Out What You Bring In
Think about what you bring in. Check to see if it can be recycled or composted in the park you are visiting. If it cannot, try to take it home. It is often far easier to recycle near your home than in rural park areas.
Subaru Zero Landfill Initiative
Subaru, experts in zero-landfill sustainability, has committed to sharing its knowledge of zero-landfill practices by working with the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), National Park Foundation (NPF) and National Park Service (NPS), toward a goal of significantly reducing waste going into landfills. Subaru, alongside these partners, conducted a waste characterization study of three iconic pilot parks – Denali, Grand Teton and Yosemite – to identify top drivers of waste. Together, they have helped create and implement various initiatives at the three pilot parks to help address the visitor waste challenge including installation of additional recycling and trash containers in high-traffic visitor locations, adopting standardized recycling labels from Recycle Across America to help reduce confusion and increase proper recycling, as well as the creation of youth ambassador, employee and visitor education programs.
Along with promoting the many programs already in place to educate visitors about ways they can decrease waste in parks, the initiative continues to explore new ways both Subaru and park visitors can help reduce waste and keep these parks beautiful for future generations.
Zero Landfill Initiative Pilot Park Update
Since the initiative began in 2015, the pilot parks – Denali, Grand Teton and Yosemite – have shown remarkable progress. The amount of waste generated per visitor continues to decrease and recycling rates in all three parks has increased. By visitors using reusable drinking bottles and coffee mugs, as well as bringing their own reusable bag, the amount of waste that needs to be handled is lessening. Through the hard work done by all parties to help increase the amount of recycling containers in the parks and introducing standardized labels, visitors can be more successful in their recycling efforts. By continuing to work together, park and concessionaire employees, the gateway communities and most importantly, park visitors, will help to make this program successful.
Subaru and the National Parks
For more than five years, the Subaru Share the Love event has provided more than $8 million in funding for critical programs and projects in more than 100 national parks and helped increase public awareness and engagement across our National Park System.
For more information on the Subaru zero-landfill initiative and the automaker’s longstanding support of the National Parks Service, visit www.Subaru.com/Environment.
About Subaru of America, Inc.
Subaru of America, Inc. (SOA) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Subaru Corporation of Japan. Headquartered at a zero-landfill office in Camden, N.J., the company markets and distributes Subaru vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of more than 630 retailers across the United States. All Subaru products are manufactured in zero-landfill production plants and Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. is the only U.S. automobile production plant to be designated a backyard wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. SOA is guided by the Subaru Love Promise, which is the company’s vision to show love and respect to everyone, and to support its communities and customers nationwide. Over the past 20 years, SOA has donated more than $120 million to causes the Subaru family cares about, and its employees have logged more than 40,000 volunteer hours. As a company, Subaru believes it is important to do its part in making a positive impact in the world because it is the right thing to do.