6/26/2015 Summer 2015 About the Author Jim Daley is a science writer based in Chicago. He writes about ecology, sustainability, and the environment on his blog, jimdaleywrites.com. No Time to Waste: Partnering to Help Protect the Parks by Jim Daley 6/26/2015 Summer 2015 When it comes to birthdays, some people are just plain hard to shop for. Take our great National Park Service (NPS). In 2016, it will celebrate 100 years of proud stewardship of our natural treasures, which include 58 national parks and a whopping 407 areas in all. So what do you give for a birthday present when the guest of honor darn near literally has, well – everything? Luckily, Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. (SIA) had a gift to give that we knew the NPS would be delighted to receive; a deep understanding of sustainable practices that can help ensure that the parks are around to celebrate another hundred birthdays. And we were only too eager to share it with them. Teddy Roosevelt once called the national parks: “... assets which we must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.” We couldn’t agree more, so for NPS’ 100th birthday, Subaru of America, Inc. (SOA) is coming to the party with a present that the original Rough Rider would have loved: SOA (a premier-level sponsor of the National Park Service Centennial Celebration) is creating a historic initiative with the national parks that will help improve and sustain the parks, not merely for the next generation, but for the next 100 years. We’re excited. In fact, we’ve already started. Because there’s no time to waste Wasting Away Currently the NPS is working to manage and reduce a mountain of waste. Most of it is brought in by well-meaning visitors, but a majority of what those visitors leave behind goes straight to landfills that are often more than 100 miles away. Subaru approached the NPS and proposed a centennial celebration of stewardship to help the national parks reduce their reliance on landfills – and potentially eliminate it altogether. Sharing Solutions The NPS enthusiastically agreed, so SOA reached out to the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) to help them identify three pilot parks to use as test cases for the implementation of SIA zero-landfill methodologies. Management from the SIA plant, which has been operating as a zero-landfill facility since 2004, will be working shoulder to shoulder with representatives from three national parks over the next year to help them devise new strategies to do more to protect this precious natural inheritance for the continued enjoyment of all. Photo: Andrew Peacock / Tandem Stills + Motion Behind the Scenes In February, NPCA and NPS representatives from the partnership’s three pilot parks – Yosemite, Grand Teton, and Denali – toured the SIA plant and discussed strategies with Subaru management to assist the pilot parks in beginning their journey to achieve zero-landfill status. (Read more about the SIA plant in “Sharing Zero” here.) Who We Are During the tour, Tim Tagye, promotions and sponsorship manager of SOA, discussed the goals of the Subaru partnership with the NPCA. “Who we are is what we leave behind,” he says, explaining how the Subaru Love Promise initiative guides that idea. “It's a pledge centered on doing the right thing and giving back to your local community.” Denise Coogan, the safety and environmental compliance manager at the SIA plant, shared the strategies that allow Subaru to achieve zero-landfill status, and discussed how they could be applied to the national parks. She stressed that while the parks may face different challenges than an automotive manufacturer, the same basic principles apply. “You might have some unique issues,” she says, “but the underlying principles are all the same.” Making the Connection The work of this new partnership is just beginning. Follow the story as it unfolds in upcoming issues of Drive. Following the presentations, park representatives broke up into small groups to brainstorm ideas for reducing landfill use in their respective parks. In one group, participants discussed a strategy they’d seen on the plant tour that would allow them to get a better idea of where the landfill waste in Yosemite National Park was being generated. The Yosemite representatives were interested in adopting the same strategy; here was a good tool that they could start using right away to help improve and maintain their beloved park. The new partnership was well under way. It's a great feeling when you give a gift that really makes a difference.