Traveling Green And The 3 R’s

Written by Ashley 

Did you know that Travel Green Wisconsin is a program to promote smart, environmentally friendly business practices? Cave of the Mounds National Natural Landmark is proud to be a founding member of this Wisconsin Department of Tourism program. Like other members, we care for the environment and want to do our part to keep it clean and healthy! Members work hard to make small changes that have a BIG impact to continue our progress towards greener business practices. When you visit a Travel Green Wisconsin business like Cave of the Mounds, you’ll see how its done!

No more plastic bottles!

Americans throw away 2.5 million single-use plastic bottles every hour – about 42,000 per minute, or about 695 per second. We want to do our part to reduce this staggering statistic. In 2019, Cave of the Mounds eliminated all single-use plastic water and beverage bottles from our business. Instead, guests can now purchase a reusable water bottle at the same price the disposable bottles used to cost! These souvenir bottles can be filled – and refilled – at our new water filling station. We are reducing single-use plastic bottles while encouraging new Earth-friendly habits!

Compostable straws and stirrers!

Roughly half a million single-use plastic straws are used in the world every day in concession beverages like sodas, slushes, and to stir up coffee and tea. Many of these straws end up in our oceans, lakes, rivers and streams. This pollutes the waters, potentially harming or even killing aquatic and marine life. To help reduce the amount of plastic straws that end upend up in our waterways, Cave of the Mounds switched to offering only paper straws for concession beverages like slushes and bamboo stirrers for hot beverages. There are numerous benefits to using paper straws and natural stirrers over plastic. For example, paper and wood are biodegradable and compostable, fully decomposing in 2-6 weeks. Plastic straws can take up to 200 years to decompose.

Cutting back the plastic!

It can take up to 1,000 years or more to properly degrade a plastic bag. Eventually, these bags will breakdown into small toxic parts, which are bad for the environment. To reduce the number of plastic bags we use at Cave of the Mounds, we now cut the tops off of our sluice collection bags when we sell them. This way, they can be reused to hold the collection of rocks and fossils inside. This new practice eliminates the need to hand out a second plastic bag for the rock collection. The result? We have been able to cut our plastic bag usage in half!

The power of paper!

Plastic cups and lids are another area we felt Cave of the Mounds could make a small change for a BIG impact. Concessions are a big part of our business, especially in the summer months. In 2019, we started a new practice of using exclusively paper cups for hot and cold beverages. Guests who want a sturdier option for cold drinks can purchase a reusable souvenir cup for about one dollar. Additionally, we only offer recyclable plastic lids upon request, giving people a chance to make a conscious decision about their plastic consumption and use. This simple step consequently reduces the total amount of general plastic used.

Stepping up our recycling game!

75% of America’s waste is recyclable, but Americans only actually recycle around 30% of it. Improving our rate of recycling is very important to us!In 2019, Cave of the Mounds put interpretative signage on all of our trash and recycling bins to help our guests learn what items CAN be recycled. Also, we follow the guidelines provided by our local waste management facilities, such as, keeping food and liquids out of recycling receptacles and removing plastic bags from our recycling bins. We encourage our guests to help us step up our recycling game but making sure what is put into the recycling bin is ACTUALLY recyclable.

Did you know that putting your recyclables into a plastic trash bag is a big NO-NO? Waste Management prefers that you put all recyclables into the bin as loose items.

Reducing single-use plastic water bottles and straws, reusing items like plastic bags, and recycling all the things that are recyclable we do our part to help the Earth. YOU can follow these steps to help the Earth, too!

Top 5 Traveling Green in Wisconsin Tips

  1. Use a re-fillable travel mug and/or water bottle instead of disposable plastic.
  2. Ask for a paper gift bag when being offered plastic.
  3. Always recycle items that are recyclable.
  4. Keep a container in your vehicle to collect your own recyclables if no recycling is available. Recycle them when you can.
  5. Make conscious and intentional decisions about your needs when it comes to single-use plastics – do I need a cup? a straw? a lid? a bag?