Zero Waste Travel Adventure
Natural Habitat Adventures (Nat Hab) is spearheading the world’s first zero waste trip, a travel-industry first. On the July 6-12, 2019 departure of Safari America: Yellowstone Country, 14 travelers will join this pioneering endeavor in which Nat Hab’s goal is to divert (refuse, recycle, compost, upcycle, or re-use) 99 percent or more of all waste produced as part of Nat Hab-sponsored trip operations.
With the World’s First Zero Waste Adventure, Nat Hab aims to fit all waste produced on the trip into a single small container at the end, nearly eliminating the need to send any materials to a landfill or incinerator.
Trip leaders will encourage travelers to refuse potential waste whenever possible, such as declining disposable straws or individually packaged condiments, minimizing the waste they produce along the route while in vehicles, lodges, and camps throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
The company has devised various strategies to limit trash: providing travelers with a zero waste toolkit that includes personal reusable items such as water bottles, mugs, cutlery and tote bags; transporting packed meals in reusable containers; recycling single-use packaging, including hard-to-recycle items through TerraCycle; composting napkins and biodegradable food waste; and buying food in bulk. Waste reduction begins even before the trip starts, with travelers receiving digital versions of all pre-trip materials, including forms to complete and the daily itinerary.
While realizing this zero waste goal won’t be easy, Nat Hab is committed to setting a new standard for the travel industry. By demonstrating that it is possible to operate a zero waste adventure, the company hopes to motivate other operators to improve their own waste management practices and pursue similar innovations. Nat Hab also expects to learn lessons the company can apply across its other trips in destinations worldwide.
"One way we’re dedicated to protecting the planet is to inspire the travel industry to become more sustainable," said Natural Habitat Adventures Founder and President Ben Bressler. "Our goal is to continually raise the bar on conservation, and our first zero waste adventure will show that it’s possible to reduce our environmental impact while providing an exceptional experience for our guests."
When travelers witness the effectiveness of waste reduction on vacation, they learn how to reduce or eliminate disposables at home, too.
Nat Hab wants its zero waste ethos to extend beyond the trip itself. By inspiring its travelers and partners to make conscious choices about waste in their everyday lives and business practices, Nat Hab aims to create a long-lasting ripple effect. Given that the average American produces 4.4 pounds of trash per day, Nat Hab recognizes there’s much room for improvement. When travelers witness the effectiveness of waste reduction on vacation, they learn how to reduce or eliminate disposables at home, too.
The company is also dedicated to eliminating single-use plastic water bottles and straws on all its trips. Since 2014, Nat Hab has provided travelers with refillable stainless steel water bottles, replacing disposable plastic bottles across all operations. And it is currently achieving major strides in reducing the use of plastic straws. By August 2018, 67 percent of Nat Hab trips were plastic-straw-free, and the company is on target to eradicate plastic straws from at least 90 percent of its trips by the end of the year, with a goal of eliminating them entirely in 2019.
Natural Habitat Adventures is the conservation travel partner of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a relationship formed in 2003 that has since provided more than $4 million in contributions to WWF from Nat Hab.