Going green at Mammoth Hot Springs

Green is certainly in at Yellowstone National Park, and concessionaire Xanterra adds to the movement with the opening of a “green” retail space at Mammoth Hot Springs.

The former gift shop in the Mammoth Hot Springs hotel lobby is receiving a makeover, as into an interpretive facility dedicated to informing park visitors about climate change and offering environmentally friendly products.

“Although other stores may offer some of these products, we believe this is the first retail operation – in a national park or elsewhere – devoted to interpreting climate change,” said Beth Pratt, director of environmental affairs for Xanterra’s Yellowstone operations. “Our goal for this  store is to connect the park visitor to the threats climate change and pollution pose to our national parks—and our world—with the need to make sustainable consumer choices.”

To be called “For Future Generations,” the store opened May 8 for the season and will be fully converted into an interpretive facility by mid-summer. The store will feature displays that will educate the public about environmental degradation while raising awareness of the implications of consumer choices such as product purchases and recycling.

In keeping with the environmental theme, materials used in the remodeling of the store will be reclaimed, recycled or sourced from sustainable operations. For example, shelving will be constructed out of reclaimed wood, some of it from buildings in the park, including flooring from the Old Faithful Inn and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. The new floor is constructed of Tamarac harvested from a “healthy forest” in Montana. Lighting will come from energy-efficient, minimum-impact LED (Light-Emitting Diodes) bulbs.

Each product sold will also have an “environmental scorecard” describing the sustainable attributes. Conventional items will be offered alongside sustainable options.

“Because sustainability means different things to different people, we will offer a variety of products that meet varying definitions of ‘sustainable,’” said Pratt. “For some people, products made locally are the most important factor while others place the most significance on organic materials. Still others see recycled content as the key.”

Displays will include information on the threats climate change poses to our national parks, what the various entities in the park are doing to minimize their environmental impacts and what techniques visitors can use at home. “At Xanterra, we are striving on a daily basis to innovate new ways to protect the environment,” said Pratt. “Our hope is that what we learn can be utilized by others on a much broader scale to improve global environmental health.” The displays will also change over time based upon new information from the environmental community as well as feedback from park visitors and company employees.

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