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Conservation

Reducing Waste

Waste is a big problem in the travel industry. Every year, global flyers create an estimated 5.7 million tons of waste in airline cabins alone, while cruise ships discharge tons of solid waste pollution into the sea, and the planet faces a growing scourge of disposable plastic washing up on beaches, entangling turtles and clogging the stomachs of whales. A staggering 1.3 billion tons of food is thrown away every year, with food the biggest form of waste in the travel industry. And while Nat Hab is a relatively small contributor industry-wide, given all this, we simply can’t do “business as usual” when it comes to addressing waste woes.

At Nat Hab, we are taking these steps to stem the production of waste:

Plastic-Free Travel
In 2011, we opted to get rid of single-use plastic water bottles on our trips, accomplishing that goal worldwide within two years. We now give all our travelers a reusable stainless steel water bottle, which we refill with safe, filtered drinking water. And in destinations where a hot beverage is welcome on a chilly excursion, we provide reusable insulated mugs, too. In 2018, we eliminated plastic straws. We’re a proud supporter of Travelers Against Plastic (TAP), a campaign to spread awareness about the impacts of using disposable plastic water bottles while traveling. You, too, can support TAP by signing the pledge to not use single-use plastics when you travel.

The World’s First Zero Waste Adventure
In 2019, Nat Hab operated the World’s First Zero Waste Adventure in Yellowstone National Park, an ambitious quest to reduce waste so dramatically that everything we generated on a weeklong trip would fit into one quart-sized bottle. And we did it! While we would love to make all our trips zero waste immediately, we recognize that it’s a process—opportunities to refuse, repurpose or recycle don’t exist at the same level in every destination we operate—but we learned many things from this initial endeavor that we’re able to integrate across multiple trips, working with our partners around the world to up the bar on waste reduction.

Guiding the Industry
As a result of all we learned on the World’s First Zero Waste Adventure, we’ve created a list of 12 Lessons Learned to share with other companies, to inspire and assist them in their own waste-reduction efforts.

Inspiring Our Travelers
We know it’s not enough to reduce waste on our trips alone. Our goal is for our travelers to make it a way of life, at home and on the road or in the air, too. Toward that end, we have these Tips for Zero Waste Travel to share.

Reducing Waste in Our Home Office
When we created the World’s First Zero Waste Adventure in 2019, we made a parallel effort to ramp up waste reduction at our Colorado headquarters. We have bins for conventional recycling and composting, we recycle plastic bags and toiletry containers like toothpaste and tubes and makeup containers, and we’ve added a TerraCycle Zero Waste Box for hard-to-recycle plastics like candy and snack wrappers and scrap packaging. In our company kitchen, we provide bulk snacks for our staff, refilling dispensers with raw nuts, pretzels, chocolate and the like, and providing fresh, unwrapped fruit. We use bulk tea to fill individual compostable tea bags (did you know most tea bags contain plastic and aren’t compostable?). And when it’s time to pour a cup of fair-trade coffee, it goes in a ceramic mug, and the cream we provide comes in a glass bottle from a local dairy delivery service.
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