In the first of several planned question-and-answer pieces with members of Delaware North’s global GreenPath team, we caught up with Heather Coton, the environmental manager and assistant to the general manager at The Gideon Putnam, which is operated by Delaware North in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

How did you become involved in your location’s GreenPath program? Prior to my taking on this role, environmental management responsibilities belonged to our director of facilities. I was asked by our general manager in 2013 to assume the responsibilities.

Prior to your current role, do you have any background in environmental management? I do not have prior environmental management experience, but this role was a good fit for me, as I have been passionate about the environment since my first high school job in the late 1980s. I worked for Citizen Action of New York, telemarketing and going door-to-door promoting recycling in New York. I have been recycling and carrying my reusable bags ever since!

Why are you passionate about the environment and sustainability? Honestly, it started with a film called Koyaanisqatsi that my Nan (1/2 Cree Indian, and very much in tune with Mother Earth) had me watch in the 1980s. The title is a Hopi Indian word meaning “life out of balance.” The film has no words, with a musical score by Philip Glass, so through imagery (the eyes of the Native Americans), it shows how mankind is destroying the Earth. It had a profound impact on me.

What GreenPath accomplishment are you most proud of? Lots of things!

  • We implemented composting last April (and switched all paper goods to compostable). In 2016,diverted 30 tons of food waste, our solid waste decreased from 111 tons in 2015 to 73 tons last year, and zero-sort recycling increased from 16 tons in 2015 to 29 tons last year.
  • We re-implemented guest room and public space recycling.
  • We participate in Clean the World and to date, we have collected nearly 3,500 pounds of waste, resulting in nearly 11,500 bars of soap and 2,700 bottles redistributed to hygiene kits.
  • We installed a 200-gallon kitchen waste oil containment tank, with a transport caddy to get oil safely from the fryer to the tank.
  • We installed two Tesla and one universal electric-vehicle charging stations.
  • We renovated our ballroom/conference center, and recycled more than 4,500 square feet of ceiling tile and 6,880 pounds of post-consumer carpeting. In conference bathrooms, we got rid of paper towels and installed blade dryers.
  • We have switched much of our lighting to LED.
  • I started daily GreenPath/environmental posts on our Facebook page (and my personal LinkedIn and Facebook pages).
  • We have been awarded the Leadership Tier for NYSDEC Environmental Leaders, Silver for Audubon International Green Lodging, Silver for TripAdvisor Green Leaders.


Published: April 21, 2017