Climate change is a reality of our world today. Scientists studying climate, or the pattern of weather over a long period of time, have noticed a warming trend that has inescapable consequences for people as well as the earth's many ecosystems. As evidence of human contribution toward climate change increases, Mount Rainier National Park is making a serious commitment toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable practices. Sustainability is managing and preserving the earth's natural resources so they are passed on to future generations in a healthy and abundant manner.
"Sustainability does not require a loss in the quality of life, but does require a change in mind-set, a change in values toward less consumptive lifestyles. These changes must embrace global interdependence, environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic viability."
- National Park Service: Guiding Principles of Sustainable Design
Do Your Part! for Climate Friendly Parks
Do Your Part! for Climate Friendly Parks is the first interactive online program in the country that provides national park visitors and supporters with tools to understand and reduce their carbon footprints and thereby help to protect our national parks from global warming. Do Your Part! is sponsored by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) in support of the National Park Service's Climate Friendly Parks program. Mount Rainier National Park's involvement in the Climate Friendly Parks program has helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions from park operations by approximately 30% from 2006 to 2014!
Why is Do Your Part! important? From melting glaciers to eroding seashores to growing wildfires and decreasing wildlife, our national parks are being impacted by global warming. Do Your Part! offers the millions of national park visitors educational and inspiring opportunities to do their part to prevent global warming and protect our natural resources.
How much of a difference can Do Your Part! make? People often feel their actions are too small to have an impact on an issue as big as global warming. However, when taken together, many small actions can make a big difference. Every year, our national parks see roughly 270 million visitors. If even a fraction of those visitors began making simple changes at home and on the road, the effect would be enormous.
It can be harder to be green when you're traveling. But with a little advance planning there are simple steps you can take to shrink your carbon footprint on the road as well as at home.
Before you leave home, turn down your heating/cooling, lower the setting on your water heater, turn lights off or put them on a timer, and use motion sensors on porch lights.
Drive your most efficient vehicle or install solar panels on your camper or RV so you don't have to use a generator as often.
Take with you and use your refillable travel mugs and water bottles instead of paying for containers that will be discarded.
Use an alternative form of travel to get around in the park; leave your vehicle and walk or ride your bike, or use public transportation, if available.
Recycle! Most parks, including Mount Rainier National Park, have recycling bins available to the public and take many recyclable items. Recycling aluminum cans is especially efficient. You can save hundreds of pounds of carbon dioxide by recycling half of the waster your vacation generates.
If you do drive into the park, do not idle your vehicle. Letting a car idle for just 20 seconds burns more gasoline than turning it off and on again. By turning off the motor you will save gas, reduce noise, reduce wear and tear on your vehicle, and keep the air cleaner.
Give your feedback to the park; your input is valuable to us. Throughout the National Park Service we are taking many steps to mitigate our greenhouse gas emissions (see some examples at Mount Rainier, below). However, we are open to new and inventive ideas and different approaches. Leave a comment form at the visitor center or email us.
Practice these steps at home, whether you are packing for a trip to national park or just going to the grocery store.
Calculate your carbon footprint. Once you know your carbon footprint you can track your savings and get involved in programs that allow you to buy carbon credits to offset the carbon emissions from your visit.
While at home, you can do your part as well. If we all make small changes, they start to add up.
Switch to energy efficient light bulbs.
Turn off water while shaving or brushing your teeth.
Repair leaky toilets.
Adjust the thermostat up in summer and down in the winter.
Change air filters regularly.
Ride a bike.
Eating out? Bring your own reusable container to the restaurant for leftovers.
Reduce, reuse, recycle.
"To conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such a manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."
-National Park Service Mission, 1916 Organic Act
Sustainable Park Practices
We all share the responsibilities of caring for our environment and conserving natural resources. Staff at Mount Rainier National Park are also involved in implementing sustainable practices. We do these things out of concern for the environment and as part of our association with the Greening of the National Park Service program. The program encompasses energy efficiency, green purchasing, recycling, and environmental design.
Here are a few examples of environment-friendly projects and practices at Mount Rainier:
We conduct environmental analysis on construction and design projects.The park is engages in a wide variety of planning and construction projects that have the potential to impact park resources including air, water, plants, wildlife, historic structures, etc. To determine what those impacts might be, the park conducts environmental analysis. Resource professionals and other staff engage in collaborative planning to identify the best possible alternatives, with the least possible impacts.
We use a hybrid solar energy system in the White River area. The solar system replaced a generator-only system. It produces 85% of the electricity required for the area, reducing the generator-supplied energy to 15%! The benefits of the system are reduced fuel consumption, reduced emissions, reduced noise levels and lower operating costs.
We also focus on using new "green" products as they are developed. One of our park generators and all of our diesel vehicles now run on special emissions-reducing fuel made with soybean-based, low-sulfur fuel. Additionally in the park fleet we have hybrid vehicles, which combine a traditional internal combustion engine with an electric motor in order to reduce gas consumption. As an Energy Star Partner Organization, we are committed to lowering our energy consumption by purchasing Energy Star rated devices including refrigerators, furnaces, and computers. We use energy efficient lighting, including compact fluorescent light bulbs.
We reduce our consumption of resources by reusing and recycling products. In addition to the usual items- aluminum, plastic, glass, and paper- we recycle scrap metal, used oil, batteries, and a number of other items. We purchase recycled products including plastic bags, picnic tables, lumber, pre- and post-consumer recycled paper, and automobile parts. In addition to recycling, park concessions collect food waste for compost and donate used cooking oil to be converted into biodiesel.
Want to learn more?
Climate Friendly Parks
The Climate Friendly Parks (CFP) program is one component of the National Park Service Green Parks Plan, an integrated approach by the NPS to address climate change through implementing sustainable practices in our operations. Mount Rainier National Park is a certified Climate Friendly Park.
What You Can Do
Suggestions from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for easy changes you can make at home, work, and the office in order to protect the climate, reduce air pollution, and save money.
National Parks Conservation Association
Information about climate change from the National Parks Conservation Association, including the report "Unnatural Disasters: Global Warming and Our National Parks".