Nat Hab is known for continually raising the bar on conservation, and one way we do so is through our Green Team initiatives. The Green Team is a group of more than 30 dedicated volunteers that take the lead when it comes to implementing sustainable practices in both our home office and field operations. This year, Green Team members ran an office-wide meeting in which staff members from all departments shared their sustainability goals for the coming year. We hope these ideas provide inspiration and motivate you to create your own green resolution for 2020!

Forest in Costa Rica.

Editorial Director Wendy Redal

My goal is to not buy anything new (other than perishable and toiletry items, like food, shampoo, etc.) in 2020! No new clothes, outdoor equipment, books (my biggest addiction), greeting cards, candles, jewelry, you name it. I don’t need anything—I have too much already—and if it turns out that I truly do, I will look to buy secondhand or borrow. I’m really putting my waste focus this year on not consuming in the first place—the “reduce” component of the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra. I’m two weeks in, and it’s not even hard at all so far. But I’m helping my goal by not going into stores for no reason, not opening targeted ads on Instagram and unsubscribing from any consumer-oriented emails. I’m not a big shopper anyway (i.e., I’ve never been one to shop for mere recreations), but the less I can expose myself to temptation, the better.

Adventure Concierge & Conservation Travel Specialist Brooke Mitchell

For 2020, my fiance and I are trying veganism! We have never not eaten meat and so far it’s been incredibly fun learning new ingredients and researching recipes. Even if we return to eating meat sometime in the year or are at an establishment that doesn’t provide vegan meals, we are cutting out beef entirely due to its heavy environmental impact. I doubt we will be perfect, but I feel this is worth pursuing, so we will be experimenting with a new way of life!

Also, I am planning a minimal waste wedding! I am purchasing as many items as possible at secondhand stores and online resources like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. Our caterer is allowing us to return any unused alcohol and bring Tupperware dishes for leftovers. We’re not having a wedding party and I’ve asked my family to wear whatever clothes are already have in their closet. Our wedding will be in the mountains during winter—no reason to get all fancy and buy new clothes when you’ll just be bundled up!

Adventure Services Facilitator Malia Kiser

When it comes to sustainability in my life, one of the areas in which I struggle is food. We live in a time and place where the food we buy comes along with a sense of convenience or inconvenience, and I am someone who has a bad habit of leaning toward convenience. Being a single adult with a full-time job, I tend to eat out or order takeout frequently as opposed to cooking meals at home, which is not kind to my wallet or our planet. This year, my personal sustainability goal is to cut back on the amount of food I am consuming that comes in containers that are not so eco-friendly and focus more of my time on getting fresh produce from sustainable sources.

In addition to eating away from home frequently, another bad habit that I am trying to kick is forgetting about the produce that I do buy and letting it go rotten. I end up tossing far too many fruits and veggies that have been forgotten in the back of my fridge into the compost. Not only is that a waste of food, but it’s also a waste of money.  According to the USDA, between 30 to 40 percent of food in the United States goes to waste. I am determined to decrease my contribution to that statistic this year. Step one in this process will be shopping less frequently and buying smaller volumes of food. This way, I will know exactly what I have to eat, and I will be able to plan for meals and save leftovers for lunches. A helpful tip from one of my co-workers that I will definitely be implementing this year is to take the vegetables that are becoming wilted, put them in the freezer and turn them into a veggie broth! These two ideas alone give me hope that I will be able to significantly reduce my food waste in 2020.

Adventure Director Emily Kleinburd

My goal is to reduce my delivery meals to once a month. If I do takeout, my goal is to bring my own reusable packaging. Packaging for delivery is often very wasteful, so even though it is convenient, it’s a big goal of mine to reduce the amount of delivery food I order. I would also like to start conversations with some of my favorite takeout places (pho is a go-to) about the type of packaging they’re using for their orders and if there are more sustainable options. A second goal of mine is to eat a plant-based diet four times a week.

Operations Coordinator Sarah Warren

My sustainability goal is to use less plastic. For example, I have changed my purchase of toilet paper to Who Gives a Crap, which wraps their products in paper instead of plastic wrap. While I am working toward reducing my meat consumption, when I do purchase meat products I do so from the butcher counter to avoid Styrofoam and plastic packaging. I have purchased reusable produce and bulk bags to eliminate the need for those plastic bags.

Another goal of mine is to work through the “refuse, reuse” process more diligently. When thinking through things I need, I am trying to first ask myself the question, “Do I really need this item?” If I determine yes, then I look to see if the product is already in the consumer cycle—i.e. thrifted.  For example, when searching for new clothes, I try first to resist the urge to shop! If I determine I need a new clothing item, I’ll look for it in a thrift store or on a thrifting app. Lastly, if I cannot find the item, I try to find the best sustainable option available, so that my buying power influences markets to make products ethically. An element of this is to work to find things locallyI have deleted my Amazon app, and I focus on purchasing products in a store first before resorting to getting packages shipped to me from online.