Ali Chipouras, environmental and interpretive manager for Delaware North at West Yellowstone, Mont., joined the company as an intern in 2014 and today ensures that GreenPath is successful at the park through a variety of projects and associate education.
What is unique about working in a national park?
The spectacular sights and wildlife in the park make each day unique in Yellowstone. One of my favorite aspects of working in the park is the diverse group of people from all around the world that I have the opportunity to work with.
Yellowstone General Stores have a strong commitment to sustainability and GreenPath. What do you think is the most effective way to maintain this?
Teamwork. Our team at Yellowstone is passionate about GreenPath and is always thinking of new ways that we can improve.
Zero Waste Certification was achieved at the general stores warehouse in 2016. Can you describe the process and what motivated associates to participate?
The process started with making a commitment to going zero waste and then taking many different steps to reduce our waste and divert it from going to the landfill. To obtain this certification, we had to divert over 90 percent of the warehouse waste away from the landfill for a year and then maintain it every year after. At the warehouse, it really is a team effort for everyone, and I think that is a big part of the motivation for associates – to do something good for our environment as a team.
Can you tell us about DiscoveryPath and what is most impactful about this program?
DiscoveryPath is an educational program that is hosted by Delaware North in Yellowstone each year. A group of local seventh-grade students are invited to come explore Yellowstone with us each year to learn about sustainability, healthy living and ecology.
The program is special because although the students live less than two hours form the park, many of them have never had the opportunity to spend time in the park. The most impactful part is how the students have brought what they learned about sustainability back to their school and homes. DiscoveryPath students have gone on to work on projects such as banning styrofoam in their cafeterias and creating recycling programs at the school.
The Yellowstone General Stores Fountains serving our guests a variety of quick-service foods are Green Dine Certified. How has this changed operations?
Obtaining the Green Dine certification challenged us to evaluate our restaurants and make some positive changes such as switching to low-flow water fixtures and reducing our energy consumption. It is a great way to share with guests what we are doing to reduce our impact in Yellowstone.
What are your plans for 2019 to promote GreenPath and inspire associates and guests?
We are going to continue what we are doing and move toward anything we can do to reduce our waste. We are always trying to think of new ideas.