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Yellowstone store tries environmental approach

By Victoria Advocate
June 20, 2009 at 1:20 a.m.


MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. (AP) — Operators of a gift shop in Yellowstone National Park are trying to merge education and commerce.

The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel store features scorecards intended to help customers decide whether to buy a product that was made in a place with a reputation for environmental disregard, or pay more for one made under conditions considered more environmentally sustainable.

"The intention is that the first thing visitors will know is that this is a place to learn about climate change," said Rick Hoeninghausen, director of marketing and sales for Yellowstone concessionaire Xanterra Parks and Resorts. Its enterprises include the hotel store called For Future Generations.

Beth Pratt, environmental affairs director for Xanterra, said the store is structured to connect park visitors to the risk parks face because of climate change and pollution, and to help people understand the need for sustainable consumer choices.

Plans call for installation of a display explaining how climate change affects Yellowstone in ways such as amphibian decline. A computer kiosk will allow visitors to calculate their carbon footprints.

Pratt said the scorecard provides "a chance for me to test consumer psychology."

The store's merchandise includes blankets containing recycled materials, eco-friendly socks, coffee mugs made from corn grown in the United States and paper made with bison dung.

A recent facelift for the store included use of flooring made from small-diameter trees, plus tables and cabinets madefrom recycled wood.

Hoeninghausen that if the environmental emphasis at For Future Generations succeeds, then it could be incorporated at other Xanterra outlets.

"Depending on how this goes, we'll decide how to roll it out," he said. "We're in a bunch of other parks."

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Information from: Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com

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