By now, most people have learned more about the importance of mindful consumption. We recycle, we reuse. But how do you know if the changes you are making are even making a difference?
For instance, how do you track how much waste goes to recycling and how much goes to landfill?
You develop Sustainability Management Systems. Or at least that is what we at Wet Planet did.
This Thursday, June 9th, 2011, we’ll tell you all about it. June’s Green Drinks event features your favorite rafting and kayaking outfitter in the Columbia River Gorge, not for their expertise on whitewater, but for their new endeavors into the world of sustainability. Oh, and there will be Full Sail beer too.
Diving into STI’s Eco-Certification program, we had to get creative…and a little messy.
As a part of the “Benchmarking Your Impacts” step, we set out to establish baseline measurements in each of our targeted areas of resource consumption. In order to see our improvement, we needed to know how much of our waste actually gets recycled. With this data, we are able to brainstorm improvements.
Trash and Recycling: Waste Management System
Our trash and recycling is collected in a locked trailer that serves as our dumpster. Each week a few Wet Planet employees drive the trailer to the transfer station where they toss the trash and recycling into designated bins (glass separate from other recyclables).
Nicki devised a system that allowed the clear recycling bags and black trash bags to be weighed before getting tossed into the trailer. The measurements are written on a nearby clipboard and then recorded monthly into an spreadsheet. Easy as pie (store-bought pie).
Infrastructure was assembled (weigh system with rain cover for clipboard) and employees were trained.
The system worked smoothly through last season, providing our first year’s worth of data. This year we are brainstorming ways to change those numbers, with the end goal of zero waste.
Power Use: Energy Management System
Throughout the winter Nicki, Wet Planet’s Sustainability Coordinator, attended seminars and researched methods for decreasing Wet Planet’s total energy consumption. Using our power bill as a baseline measurement, Nicki planned several key improvements for our system.
First, we invested in improved power strips that will cut out phantom loading (the power consumed when machines are left on ‘sleep’ mode). Nicki did all the math and found that we the will make back our investment within a few short years and start saving money after that.
Additionally, we placed weather stripping on all doors that lead to the outside, helping to maintain the temperature indoors.
- Other energy saving ideas include:
- Change air filters monthly
- Set water heater temperature no higher than 120 degrees
- Inform employees of energy saving techniques for laundry
- Drain and clean water heater to reduce build-up
- Wash all towels and fleece in cold water
- Air-dry river gear
- Seal the cracks in the doors, vents, attics and ductwork.
- Insulate the attic
- Replace light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs)
- Remove and clean window A/C filters
- Insulate all exposed water lines and water heater
Future Areas for Improved Sustainability at Wet Planet
This year we are looking toward the development of better composting systems. We hope to partner with the local composting geniuses at Dirt Hugger, located in The Dalles, Oregon. These guys are the experts of experts when it comes to turning food, yard, and compostable waste into useful (and better quality) soil.
“We are excited to see a decrease in the weight of our trash this season,” says Nicki. “With a little bit of effort and organization from our staff members and the local composting company, Dirty Hugger, Wet Planet will now be composting many items which were previously tossed into the trash!”
Additionally, new guide Kevin comes to us with a wealth of knowledge on composting systems. He has already set up his personal worm-farm. These guys are busy digesting just about anything we give them and turning it into the most fertile soil you can imagine. We hope to make use of Kevin’s knowledge to help our employees set up their own composting systems with the possibility of a community garden in the future.
Overall, Wet Planet is experiencing some really exciting things as a small, Gorge-owned business. When core values help boost the local economy and environment, great things can be done for the entire community. Join us on Thursday for more information!
Green Drinks Details
When: Thursday, June, 9th from 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Sponsored by: Gorge-Owned Network, Full Sail and Wet Planet Whitewater Center.
What else: Hear from PacifiCorp’s Todd Olsen for general information on the upcoming removal of Condit Dam.