In a place as remote as Denali National Park, the impact of tourists and their trash can be a pretty big deal. In fact, visitors to the park can typically generate 320 tons of garbage in a summer season. In 2015, our Program Provider in Denali co-founded the Zero Landfill Initiative to reduce the amount of the park’s waste. In 2021, the initiative diverted 34% of the park’s trash in 2021 (up from 16% in 2016) through expanded recycling opportunities, encouraging the use of reusable products and piloting composting programs.
Since the beginning of this initiative, we have educated and encouraged Road Scholars in Denali National Park to be more mindful of the impact of their waste. On their first day in Denali, participants get a crash course in the Zero Landfill Initiative and learn what items can be recycled or composted on campus and in the park. We provide reusable bento boxes when eating to-go lunches in the field and encourage participants to reuse items like water bottles during their stay to help reduce their impact.
Our sustainability practices in Denali extend well beyond the Zero Landfill Initiative. Road Scholars will eat meals using ingredients freshly harvested from a small on-campus garden and from local farms. Participants are encouraged to reuse their guest towels to save water and electricity, and will encounter a host of sustainable products while in the park.