Each summer, we have the pleasure of hosting guests who have enjoyed a multi-day kayaking adventure with Outdoor Odysseys. Tom Murphy, Outdoor Odysseys new owner shares with us how they do their part in reducing waste on these trips. We wanted to learn how a group of 12 could spend the better part of a week in the wilderness and come back with only one small grocery bag of trash. Here’s how they do it:
“Life on an island is a little different. Everything is more limited and takes a little extra effort. It’s more difficult to get things to and from the San Juans. What often gets overlooked by visitors is the trash produced on the island. It has to leave the island one way or another.
At Outdoor Odysseys we experience the whole situation on the micro level. As an outfitter that takes guests on self supported multi-day kayaking tours, we are responsible for bringing back all our trash. The first step is minimizing how much trash we buy. That’s right, buy. By reducing our purchasing of packaged products that produce landfill waste, we reduce the stress on the whole system. We shy away from packaged foods in favor of whole foods that are better for us and our guests in the first place. Whatever we don’t eat gets separated into one of three categories: compost, recycling, or landfill. The compost is all the organic material that will break down and become nutrients for next year’s garden or get distributed to local island farms to feed their chickens which convert items like discarded bread, corn husks and cucumber skins even more quickly into fertilizer. The recycling gets rinsed and stored separately so when we get back to the island it’s collected as a commodity, not trash, relieving pressure and volume on the transfer station. Which we are left with is our third and final category, solid waste. At the end of a 4 day trip with 12 people eating three meals a day, we are left with less than a plastic grocery bag full of what is destined for the landfill. The effort is small, but the payoff is enormous. Outdoor Odysseys benefits because less trash equals less cost of removing it from our shop. The whole island community benefits by transferring less solid waste via ferry to the mainland.
If we can produce that little trash for a group of 12 through careful planning and smart purchases, imagine how efficient you can be at home in reducing your waste! It turns out when it comes to trash, less is really more; less cost and less waste. Take the Outdoor Odysseys challenge and try to produce only one shopping bag of landfill trash each week. Buy non packaged foods, use reusable containers, and separate out what can be recycled or broken down organically.” – Tom Murphy, Owner, Outdoor Odysseys