Thankfully, sustainability is becoming a common word in today’s culture. More people are beginning to understand the importance of protecting our environment and that’s what sustainability is all about, right?
Well, kind of. Sustainability really incorporates more than just environmental protection. Being sustainable includes the 3 P’s: planet, people, profit. A business, or planet for that matter, can only be truly sustainable if it considers the protection of our natural resources, local people and culture, and a successful economy.
In 2010, Wet Planet inventors Todd and Jaco (with the help of other Wet Planet team members) made a huge leap for sustainable tourism in the Columbia Gorge by becoming the first area rafting company to achieve an eco-certification with Sustainable Travel International (STI for short). STI defines sustainability as protecting the environment, maintaining sense of place, and generating economic benefits. Our alignment with this idea of sustainability, and STI’s mission to create a more sustainable tourism industry, led to Wet Planet’s certification.
Wet Planet’s certification didn’t mean huge changes in what we do or how we run the business, just better tracking and accountability for our practices. Now we keep tabs on everything that goes on around the property: from weighing our garbage and recycling, to tracking the volume of cleaning supplies, Wet Planet knows what our impact is and since we began tracking, we’ve been successful in reducing our waste, electricity use (from a buzzing reservations office and base) and water consumption!
The eco-certification brought more of an awareness to what this impact really is. In addition to reducing our resource consumption, it led to Wet Planet practicing more environmentally friendly purchasing especially with cleaning supplies and paper products and we joined GO! and their initiative Green Drinks- a Gorge organization promoting the local business economy.
Now we are proud of our contributions to sustainable tourism. We have offset our GHG footprint through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation which means we are totally carbon neutral! We began stocking local products in our shop and cafe, from T-shirts and hats to tortilla chips and smoothies. We organize an annual White Salmon Riverfest and Symposium (this year we’ve set the date for July 9th!), which includes a rafting trip with very reduced rates for community members and forums to help keep people informed about environmental issues facing rivers and the local community (see you there!).
Social responsibility (the people of sustainability) is very valued and important at Wet Planet. We make sure to stay active in the community and help contribute to social causes. Jaco serves on the board of directors for our local Mt Adams Chamber of Commerce. Todd is a member of the local BZ/Husum Community Council and runs Swiftwater Rescue courses with local emergency responders. We participate annually in a federal program helping soldiers deal with Post Combat Stress issues through river activities. We host annual kayak camps for cancer fighters and survivors with the non-profit First Descents.
All in all, at Wet Planet we recognize that we are part of a bigger picture, and we take pride in making a real effort to do our part, and fulfill our responsibilities in a larger sustainable community and globe.
We are so thankful to call this spectacular area our home, and we couldn’t do what we do without the beautiful rivers that we run, and our community to help facilitate and support that. Hopefully along the way, we inspire others to take sustainability into their own hands just as we have here at Wet Planet. How do you contribute to sustainability in the Gorge or elsewhere?
The author, Erin Cunningham, is the coordinator for Wet Planet’s sustainability efforts and partnerships.