Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park's "green" gift shop

January 18, 2010, 8:02 am

The store at Mammoth Hot Springs hotel was remodeled with reclaimed wood, lighting is energy-efficient and several products are of a sustainable nature. There are scoreboards displayed to let visitors better understand our impact on the environment.

"If they know that recycling an aluminum can at home actually has an impact on whether the grizzly bear or bighorn sheep survive in parks, they're more apt to do that," says Xanterra Parks director Beth Pratt.

Pratt is the park concessionaire's environmental director and she was given the task of re-making the shop.

"It educates park visitors and guests on what's happening in the world as far as climate change and the environmental degradation. So, they can come with an education of what's happening but they also come out with ways to solve. And one of the ways is behave responsibly as a consumer," adds Pratt.

This business decision by the Denver-based company that manages lodging, provides food services, and many Yellowstone Park activities is not without risk.

"The little bit scary thing is this: These products need to sell," says Xanterra Parks vice president Chris Lane, "We need to put green products and non-green products side by side and have someone say I'm willing to pay a little bit more in exchange for reducing my environmental impact."

One of the more unique green gifts is hand-made paper art produced from dried buffalo chips.

"We were inspired by a group of artists in India who were making paper out of elephant dung," says Dung and Dunger's artist, Victor Bruha, "So, when we saw that, knowing we had bison in our own backyard, just said hey this might work."