Lonely Planet Writer

One of the world's first zero waste travel adventures is here

Natural Habitat Adventures is introducing one of the world’s first zero-waste adventures. Fourteen travelers will take part in the groundbreaking endeavour through Yellowstone National Park in 2019. The goal is to reduce all waste produced from the eight-day trip into a single small container, eliminating the need to send any materials to landfill or an incinerator.

A new zero waste safari will take travellers through Yellowstone National Park. Image by Ida Rigby / Natural Habitat Adventures

The event, Safari America: Yellowstone Country, will be the same as Natural Habitat’s regular Yellowstone safaris. As well as discovering off-the-beaten-track wildlife spots and following wolves, grizzlies, elk and bison through the park, Natural Habitat will be encouraging travelers to divert (refuse, recycle, compost, upcycle, or re-use) 99% or more of all waste produced. A set of strategies will be enforced to help travelers achieve the goal, including supplying them with a zero waste toolkit that includes personal reusable items such as water bottles, mugs, cutlery and tote bags. Sprinter vehicles will be outfitted with composting and recycling systems including a TerraCycle, which breaks down hard-to-recycle items. To ensure the trip is 100% carbon neutral, the company will offset the emissions from all flights, vehicles, hotels and boats used during the tour through programs such as reforestation initiatives.

Bison in Yellowstone National Park. Image by Jeffrey West / Natural Habitat Adventure

Before travelers even set off on their journey, they’ll be putting zero waste travel methods into practice by receiving digital versions of all pre-trip materials including forms to complete and daily itineraries. By the end of the trip, the goal is that all the waste produced along the way can fit into a single communal jar.

Camping can wreak havoc on the natural landscape if people aren’t mindful. The Electric Picnic music festival in Ireland made headlines earlier this month when more than 10 kilos of waste was left behind per person attending the music festival (57,500 people attended). Videographer Ed Rice documented the carnage left behind on social media and commented, “Millions of euros in perfectly good – and dry! – camping equipment going into landfill.”

The world is now producing over 3.5 million tons of garbage a day and in America, the average person produces more than 4.4 pounds of trash each day. Projects like Natural Habitat’s zero-waste safari aim to make people think about their own impact on the environment and take their lessons home with them. The company hopes to roll out more zero-waste adventures and, with the help of partners like the WWF, inspire international tour operators to do the same.“We encourage the travel industry to follow Nat Hab’s lead to mitigate its impact, protect the earth’s precious natural resources, and educate travellers about how they can do their part,” said Jim Sano, WWF vice president, Travel & Conservation said in a statement.

North American Safari Trucks. Image by Natural Habitat Adventure

Safari America: Yellowstone Country is an eight-day trip and the first departure date is 6 July 2019. Prices start from US$5,995 per person. It includes accommodation, services of Natural Habitat’s professional Expedition Leader(s) and local staff, transportation, all meals, most gratuities, airport transfers on day one and final day, all activities and entrance fees, taxes, permits and service fees.

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