Celebrating Concessioners as they Celebrate Earth Day
The first Earth Day, held on April 22, 1970, was organized to raise public awareness about environmental health and the negative impacts of pollution and environmental degradation. Forty-three years later, Earth Day continues to offer an opportunity to educate people on environmental issues. It has also become a time to celebrate progress made, and recognize the efforts of different organizations to promote good environmental management and sustainable practices.
For the National Park Service (NPS), Earth Day is a day to both reflect on the NPS mission - "to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations" - as well as highlight the integral role the park system and its partners have played in protecting the nation's natural resources since the Bureau's inception in 1916. Concessioners are some of the NPS's most important and longstanding partners since they operate in over 130 parks nationwide and are oftentimes indistinguishable from the NPS in the eyes of visitors.
Concessioners from coast to coast help the NPS celebrate Earth Day by educating visitors and promoting environmental initiatives being undertaken in their parks and within their operations. This year is no exception. Here are some examples of what concessioners across the NPS did last year, or are planning to do this year, to celebrate our amazing planet on Earth Day:
- At Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, ARAMARK participated in a recycling drive for their 13th annual Earth Day celebration this past weekend. Local residents were encouraged to come out and bring their cardboard, #1 and #2 plastics, aluminum, glass, and steel cans for recycling. The celebration also featured locally made earth-friendly products to promote the concept of local sourcing. Plus, for those who brought a reusable mug, free fair trade coffee was offered.
- At Yosemite National Park in California, Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts (DNC) has partnered with the NPS and other partners to host a variety of Earth Day events. One such event was a sustainable salad bar tasting. In line with the larger sustainable eating movement that has quickly gained traction across the U.S., DNC provided Yosemite guests with samples of the organic and sustainable foods used in their food and beverage operations at the park. Last year, over 700 guests were served free local and organic salad lunches.
- At Golden Gate National Recreation Area in California, Alcatraz Cruises partnered with several local nonprofits to host a day of educational activities for the whole family. Activities included "Discover the Bay," a partnership with the Aquarium of the Bay that provided a large-display microscope to show visitors a close-up view of the San Francisco Bay's microorganisms, and "Survivor Plants," a partnership with the Gardens Conservancy that allowed visitors to explore the life and history of the gardens on Alcatraz Island.
- At Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada, Forever Resorts hosted an Earth Day event that used some of the concessioner�s luxury houseboats to clean up beaches around the lake. After the cleanup, volunteers were brought back to Callville Bay Marina and served a complementary barbecue lunch. Donations collected from the event benefitted the Outside Las Vegas Foundation, which is committed to preserving and protecting southern Nevada's "special outdoor places and to creating a community that enjoys, values, and protects these places."
- At Zion National Park in Utah and Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, Xanterra is kicking off its "choose to be straw free" campaign, which will eventually be implemented at all its operations across the NPS. The campaign truly demonstrates the core of environmentalism and the heart of Earth Day. When 11-year-old Milo Cress observed far too many plastic straws being used and discarded in this country, he took action. Milo contacted several companies asking them to make a change to their corporate policies regarding the use of plastic straws. Xanterra is one company that responded to Milo's call. The concessioner believes that not only will the "choose to be straw free" campaign reduce solid waste, but it will also provide an opportunity to educate the public that even the smallest individual changes can collectively yield huge impacts on the planet.