Written by Emma Brice
The Earth is at the core of what we do. Through every activity and every season, we are committed to preserving and protecting the land. This week, we got together with our Environmental Sustainability Manager, Cassie Sobkowiak, and team members, Emma Jo Stergion and Pineapple Lewis, for an update on our environmental efforts this season. Our Sustainability Team is made of up a passionate group of women who work hands-on and dedicate their days to creating a more sustainable future. Read on to get the full scoop!
NEW THIS SEASON…
ON-SITE TRASH SORTING
This season our Sustainability Team has spent countless hours and dedication to hand-sorting waste, producing impressive results and significantly reducing the amount of trash that ends up in landfills. This process involves carefully separating different types of materials such as plastics, metals, paper, and food scraps from the general waste stream so they can be recycled or disposed of in a more environmentally friendly way. By taking this approach, our sustainability team is currently able to:
- Divert 63% of waste away from landfills, helping to conserve valuable resources and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere.
- Send 25% of the volume of trash to the landfill compared to last winter. Our trash compactor now only needs to be emptied bi-weekly, compared to the twice-a-week schedule during the 21/22 winter season.
- Send sorted compost to Cedar Grove where it is ground up and processed into nutrient-rich compost. This compost is then bagged and sold for reuse.
- Send recyclables to the Port of Tacoma to undergo further sorting, separation, and shipment for processing.
These are huge milestones for the 22/23 season and are a testament to the hard work and commitment of our sustainability team who are continually looking for innovative ways to reduce our environmental impact to achieve a more sustainable future.
RECYCLING CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS
As we continue to build the Mountain Commons, we are making conscious efforts to reduce the amount of wasted materials. By implementing various waste reduction and recycling programs such as crushing our own concrete on-site, we have saved:
- 354 tons of concrete for reuse
- 150 round-trip truckloads from Enumclaw to Crystal, significantly reducing the emissions produced on the road.
- 312 tons of landfill waste
- 40 tons of steel
This has resulted in a recycling rate of 56%. By reducing waste and conserving resources, we are helping to protect the environment while also promoting sustainability in the construction of our new Mountain Commons Lodge.
EV CHARGING STATIONS
Last July, we introduced 8 new universal EV charging stations to the mountain! Compatible with any car, these chargers are free to use and have the capacity for two cars to be plugged in at once. The addition of EV charging stations has helped us work towards our goal to reduce emissions, and not only makes Crystal more accessible in the winter but also opens possibilities for guests visiting Mount Rainier National Park in the summer. The average time it takes a Tesla to charge is up to 8 hours, the perfect amount of time to get a full day of skiing or riding in; charging your car while you charge the slopes! Check out our blog from last summer to learn more about these EV charging stations.
EARTH DAY SUSTAINABILITY BOOTH
As Earth Day approaches, our Sustainability Team is gearing up for a special event from April 21-23. We will have an educational booth set up at the summit where we will raffle out recycled ski poles and showcase the efforts that have been made this season toward waste reduction and recycling programs. Throughout the event, we will be collecting trash and sorting it to promote proper waste management. Day one will feature games and activities, while day two will have a photo opportunity to raise awareness of our sustainability efforts. When you post the photo and tag @crystalmountain, you’ll receive a raffle ticket. On the final day, we will conduct a trash pick-up to help clean up the mountain and promote environmental stewardship. Pick up five pieces of trash throughout the day to win a raffle ticket! Join us at the summit to meet our Sustainability Team in person and learn more about our efforts this season!
We are looking forward to joining Mammoth Mountain and Stratton Mountain as part of Alterra Mountain Company’s pilot program to compost waste on-site. We are expecting to receive a BioSpeed composting machine from BioCoTech Americas, an on-site composting technology that will allow us to develop a “full circle” waste solution. All organic waste that we produce on-mountain will be placed in the composting machine and turned into fertilizer within 24-72 hours. Four community farms based in Seattle will use the compost we produce as fertilizer for their crops, which we will then purchase for use on-mountain. Some of the compost will also be donated to the Muckleshoot Tribe to use in their community garden. When food waste ends up in the landfill, microbes break it down without oxygen, releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Composting in an aerobic environment like this minimizes methane release, which is good news for the climate, and reduces waste by 70-90%. More information about how this technology works can be found on the BioCoTech Americas website. We are excited to start using this compost product to reduce community-wide waste issues and strengthen our community partnerships.
REPURPOSING USED FRYING OIL
In addition to hand sorting waste, our sustainability team has collected 100% of the frying oil from the entire winter season to be used for heating the Vehicle Maintenance Shop. The maintenance shop currently uses diesel fuel for heating, so this move will help us eliminate a waste product while reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. By repurposing our used frying oil, we will be able to keep this resource out of landfills and reduce our carbon footprint. We are in the process of obtaining a filter to allow us to efficiently use the frying oil as a heat source.
CONTINUED FROM LAST SEASON…
TERRA CYCLE ON-MOUNTAIN
Terra Cycle started in 2001 and works to develop global solutions for recycling waste that is not typically curbside recyclable. We have Terra Cycle bins located in each of our lodges where we encourage guests to recycle their snack and candy wrappers. These wrappers are then shipped to Terra Cycle for repurposing and recycling.
100% COMPOSTABLE TO-GO WARE
This season we continued to use 100% compostable to-go containers and introduced them to our new dining locations. If you have questions about whether an item is recyclable or compostable, please ask. Misplacing an item can contaminate the recycling and compost bins, making it unrecyclable.
VEGETARIAN DINING OPTIONS
The meat industry requires a massive amount of land, food, water, energy, and natural resources. While it may seem like a small action, we are doing our part to introduce fully vegetarian options at all of our food venues to mitigate our carbon footprint.
FREE SHUTTLE TRANSPORTATION
This year we continued to offer our free shuttle service from Enumclaw and encouraged carpooling. This not only reduced the number of cars on the road but saved a large amount of diesel fuel and resources to access the mountain. Plus, it drops you off right in front of the base area for a convenient arrival.
…AND MUCH MORE:
From our Electric-Diesel snowcats (the first 2 in North America) to eliminating single-use plastic water bottles on-mountain, we are continually looking for innovative ways to be environmental stewards. As we celebrate Earth Day, take a moment to think about the ways you can help preserve our mountain environment and move towards a healthier planet for generations to come.