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What You Can Do

Traveling Green In National Parks

While visiting in Yellowstone or other national parks, you can make a difference by traveling greener:

Most parks have recycling programs—be sure to inquire at visitor centers, front desks, or in the park newspaper about what can be recycled and where. Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to power a computer for three hours. We also have a robust composting program to keep organic waste such as food out of landfills. Click here for complete details on How to Sort Compostable Waste at Yellowstone.

When staying in a hotel, be sure to turn off lights and turn down the heat or air conditioning when you leave the room. Unplug any electronics or device chargers when not in use. Many consumer electronics continue to use power even when off!

Be sure to take advantage of any linen reuse programs and help save water and energy. If the hotel does not offer a program, contact the front desk and arrange for housekeeping to hold services during your stay.

Did you know that it takes 17 million barrels of oil a year to produce plastic water bottles? Instead of buying bottled water bring your own reusable container.

Plan ahead and stash a reusable bag in your luggage—companies like Chico make compact styles for easy travel. Our society consumes almost 1 million plastic bags per minute and most end up in the landfill.

Bring home a green gift or souvenir when shopping in national park stores. Many stores offer crafts by local artisans, Made in the USA, organic and recycled-content products. When shopping in our retail gift shops in Yellowstone, look for descriptions that detail sustainable product attributes or ask the store clerk for assistance.

Look for sustainable menu options when dining out. For example, in Yellowstone our restaurants offer a variety of sustainable choices such as great tasting Marine Stewardship Council certified salmon, fair trade and organic coffee, and locally raised beef. In 2014, 38% of our food purchases in Yellowstone were sustainable!

By taking a park tour or using park shuttles, you’ll not only have a great trip with a knowledgeable guide, but you’ll be eliminating the fuel usage and exhaust from your own private vehicle.

Save Our National Parks From Home

There are things you can do at home that can contribute to the health and sustainability of our national parks. You can help by adopting sustainable practices, soliciting businesses that promote sustainability, and supporting non-profits that protect the environment. By purchasing a reusable water bottle, or replacing your incandescent lights with CFLs or LEDs, you have helped preserve our beloved public lands.

A good starting point is to calculate and track your carbon footprint. Do Your Part for Climate Friendly Parks ( has a carbon calculator and an e-mail newsletter with sustainable living tips.

This 3R rule provides the key to going green. Reduce the resources you use. Reuse whenever possible. And recycle when the first two options don’t work.

Did you know that for every gallon of gas your car consumes, almost twenty pounds of greenhouse gases are emitted into the air? Minimizing your solo driving and utilizing pollution free transportation alternatives like walking and biking will help the environment.

Most of the food you eat has traveled an average of 1,500 miles to your plate. By eating locally, you not only support sustainable business, but you also help eliminate the fossil fuels needed to transport food.

Your bathroom can account for over 70% of water use in a house. Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you can reduce your water usage by up to 150 gallons a month. Shutting off the water while shaving can save 300 gallons per month. Don’t flush your trash and upgrade your toilet to a low-flow or water efficient model.

Wasting energy harms the environment and costs you money. Up to half of the energy in your home can be attributed to heating and cooling. Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer. If possible, turn off the heating or cooling system at night.

Switch out those incandescent’s for CFLs or LED lighting. Although the purchase price may be more for CFLs and LEDs, you will save a significant amount of energy and money by making this change. If every household in America replaced just one incandescent with a CFL, it would be akin to removing the greenhouse gas emission from 800,000 automobiles.

Our National Parks—America’s Best Idea—are some of the most beautiful places on earth. Visit the National Park Service for excellent travel planning information.

Donate or volunteer to a non-profit working on climate change or national park protection.