The results from last year’s sustainability practices data collection are in and it looks like Wet Planet is turning a brighter shade of “green.”
After a season of hard work, we have finished our homework. Sustainable Travel International has completed their annual review of our practices and given Wet Planet the STEP 2nd Party Evaluation Award.
The award is not just another fancy logo. It is the recognition of our commitment to what Sustainability means to us. We are also looking at the results of our efforts to begin tackling the upcoming season’s goals.
What does it mean to be Sustainable?
Just as STI reviews our practices annually, so must we continually reflect on what it means to be sustainable.
“Sustainability, the word, can be a difficult concept to grasp,” explains Nicole Lynch, Wet Planet’s Sustainability Coordinator. She has had some time to reflect on what sustainability means to Wet Planet.
“Because the word’s meaning can be so broad and complex, it helps to think of it in the context of our specific area and business. At Wet Planet, we see it as local stewardship: economic, social and environmental,” says Lynch.
Stewardship is defined as the responsibility of overseeing and protecting something considered worth caring for and preserving. Our definition combines what we value about the Columbia River Gorge and the White Salmon River, what we value about the people around us, and what we value about our products. With this, we can better understand what it takes to preserve these values, helping us to sustain our business and our livelihood without scarificing that which helps make it all happen.
Wet Planet Sustainability Goals for 2012
1. Do more.
Sustainable Travel International helped us to identify easy, quantifiable changes. Two years ago, Nicole gathered the stats – she weighed the garbage and tracked down energy bills – and created a baseline data set.
The baseline provides a comparison for future data collection. For instance, if the weight of total recycled materials increases, we are putting less waste in our landfills. Now, we look for ways to do more to further improve those stats. We can improve the systems that worked and refine the ones that didn’t.
2. Develop a Culture of Consciousness through Sustainability Focus Group
While Lynch and Wet Planet owners Todd Collins and Jaco Klinkenberg have been working hard at implementing new sustainability practices around the property, we hope that in 2012 a more diverse group of players within the 50-person Wet Planet Staff will come together to create a Sustainability Focus Group.
Through collaboration, we may be able to improve upon our strategies and engage more of our employees in the process. “We will be more efficient if a few people have small, manageable tasks,” says Lynch. “I would love to see the employees more engaged, involved, and proud of their employers’ business practices they will have helped to institute and improve.”
3. Assess new Wet Planet facilities and begin implementing procedures
We’ll begin by contacting the Klickitat County Energy Audit to gain insight on improving our energy efficiencies. Next, we will gather baseline data for our water and energy usage and waste output.
From there, it becomes sustainability make-over time. Luckily, we’ve learned a lot in the past two years and will be able to make better decisions on the new property.
Our experiences out on the river, both on whitewater raft trips and during kayak courses, have taught us to never become complacent. We strive every season to hone our techniques: catching eddies, paddling with more efficient strokes, and exploring better ways to work together as a team.
Our approach to sustainable business practices parallels this desire to improve. We look forward to increasing our efforts to attain STI’s Intermediate, Advanced and Industry Standards levels of sustainable business practices.
To learn more about Sustainable Travel International’s 2nd Party Review procedure, take a look at their website. We are proud to be a part of the STI family which represents tourism operators all over the world, helping sustainability become standard in the tourism sector world wide.
Author Susan Hollingsworth writes for Wet Planet Whitewater, Canoe & Kayak Magazine, American Whitewater, and any other river-related publication she can find.