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Oregon Travel Experience sustainable practices

Posted on: June 13th, 2014 by Madeline MacGregor in News & Press | No Comments

Improvements at Government Camp lead to water conservation

Sunset Mt Hood and Mirror Lake in The Mt Hood National Forest OrA high percentage of visitors who stop at OTE’s Government Camp Rest Area have a vested interest in maintaining Mt. Hood’s beauty and sustaining the environment for generations to come.

Would it surprise you to find out that OTE is actually mandated by the State of Oregon to “preserve the natural beauty and aesthetic features of rest areas?”

As part of our mission, we’re always on the lookout for sustainable products and ways to help conserve Oregon’s natural resources. Recently, the rest area team at Government Camp installed new water-free fixtures in the men’s restroom.

Each waterless fixture saves an average 20,000 to 40,000 gallons of water per year. It is estimated there are some 8 million public urinals installed in the US, with approximately 100 million users. Assuming an average two gallon flush, this is equal to 160 billion gallons literally flushed away.

This vast flow of water into our nation’s sewer and septic systems can be eliminated by replacing old fixtures with the waterless variety—and will protect our natural waterways and oceans. In addition to environmental impacts, there is a sizeable cost savings to the public in sewer and water bills.

Along with Government Camp’s four new fixtures, OTE’s John Garmon and Barry Reed installed new tile and grout in the men’s restroom and have received plenty of positive feedback fromt heir continued improvements.

“Our new fixtures will pay for themselves within just a few months,” said Garmon. “And most travelers are happy to see the rest area continue to improve.”

You can check out the work performed in the image gallery below. Click on any image for a larger view.

Other products add fresh ways to conserve and preserve

Coastwide Laboratories has helped steer the move to more eco-friendly products used at Oregon rest areas. Dan Larkin, Senior Sales Consultant for Coastwide, says that switching from a traditional quatenary ammonium disinfectant to a hydrogen peroxide disinfectant is much more kind to the environment.  Quaternaries commonly are used in ordinary environmental sanitation of noncritical surfaces, such as floors, furniture, and walls.

“Old school quats, leave quat salts behind that cause sticky floors and are hazardous for the enduser,” says Larkin. “They are harder on the septic system since the quat does not readily breakdown and the hydrogen peroxide disinfectant breaks down to water and a extra water molecule.”  

The HMIS rating of the Alpha HP that OTE switched to has a ready to use rating of 1 while traditional quats rate at a 2.

OTE also switched to Sustainable Earth #63- an enzyme based dedorizer for use in waterless urinals.  This product has been certified under the SEGC 114 Sustainable Cleaning Products Design Standard. Even the containers the product arrives in are made from 25% post-consumer recyclable materials and may be recycled again.

New paper product purchases from a Mexico based paper supplier have been shifted to American Paper Converting in Woodland, Washington.

“American Paper Converting uses Portland and Vancouver office waste to create their ecogreen line of paper products,” says Larkin.  “This greatly reduced OTE’s carbon footprint.  No longer is OTE using a line of paper products made from Texas based recycled content that is sent to Mexico to create the toilet paper and then shipped to a distributor in Portland. They’re now using a product made in the Northwest for the northwest customer.”  American Paper Converting is a minority owned, female business.

OTE changed prepackaged soap to a concentrated product. Each rest area site has a dilution unit and a concentrated pail.  “Previously, OTE utilized a pre-packaged soap that ran the equivalent of $40 a gallon (3 packs of 1250 ml, for around $40.00),” says Larkin.  “It took a lot more diesel and carbon to transport those materials versus five gallon concentrate that makes 35 gallons of ready to use soap at approimately $5.00 a gallon.” This was a significant savings to the public.

In addition, the rest area crews switched from resin trash can liners to a 100% recycled liner from Revolution Bag. This type of bag is responsible for:

  • 53% less depletion of energy resources
  • 31% decrease in human exposure to Ground Level Ozone
  • 50% decrease in human exposure to fine particulate matter
  • 37% lower global climate change
  • 12% less impact on Ocean Acidification
  • 31% less impact to Ocean Warming
  • 51% less impact on Regional Acidification

If OTE can help support these sustainable figures through sourcing and using sustainable cleaning and water resources, it is a positive move for all Oregonians.

Green pet products

Image of Woof Waste Station Sign in OTE rest areasDid you ever think that stopping with your pet at an Oregon rest area might actually create employment or help support keeping Oregon’s beautiful landscape green? Every time you use one of OTE’s rest area “Woof Waste Disposal Stations” to help clean up after your furry friend, you’ve helped employ some great people at Oregon’s Step Forward Activities. Step Forward is headquartered in Baker City, Oregon.

The company is committed to providing sustainable solutions to ensure a better tomorrow and have developed many programs that can help businesses and organizations achieve a higher level of sustainability. All of their programs offer a solution that not only has an impact on environmental sustainability, but also a huge impact on economic sustainability in the State of Oregon.

Step Forward Activities is a Qualified Rehabilitation Facility employing persons with disabilities. The direct economic benefit of employing individuals with disabilities is reducing, and in some cases, completely eliminating their need for public assistance, contributing back to the economy by paying taxes on the money they earn, and additionally spending that income back into the economy. In the State of Oregon the QRF industry annually gives back millions of dollars in the form of reduced subsidies.

When it comes to environmental impacts of plastic products, Step Forward Activities offers a complete line of biodegradable and recycled plastics bags and manufactures eco-friendly pet waste products. In addition to lowering the environmental impact, purchases from Step Forward Activities fosters economic growth and enhances employment opportunities for people with varying levels of ability.

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