Environmental Sustainability

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“Although I was somewhat aware of the environment before Deer Hill, it was only really by visiting the desert canyons and the high country of Colorado that I learned how beautiful this Earth is – and why we should save it.”  Katie, Seattle

2010solar-small“Sustainability” – it’s a buzzword, but what does it mean for a program like ours? Our industry as a whole is far from environmentally friendly; travel and adventure programs are, by nature, energy-intensive. For us, sustainability means that we strive for balance between our energy needs and green practices, as we pass onto the next generation a passion for conservation.

We responded to our clients desire for less paper waste by creating a “downsized” summer catalog in 2012, and choosing a paper that is 92% recycled (84% post-consumer). In the process we saved 33 fully grown trees, 3,300 pounds of greenhouse gases, and nearly 15,000 gallons of water.

In the past year we have invested heavily in solar power, and now supply all of our electricity at Basecamp from two large solar arrays. Each month they generate around 2000 kwh of electricity and save two tons of CO2 emissions. Our two main buildings are designed to be passive solar, requiring no electricity for heating and cooling. The Meeting Place, our newest facility, is a straw bale building finished with natural materials.

The Deer Hill Basecamp is centrally located on the Colorado Plateau, reducing the amount of time our vehicles (and our participants) are on the road. Our expeditions are based around Leave-No-Trace (LNT) principles. Deer Hill’s small groups have minimal impact as they travel through the wilderness, and all our participants are taught skills that will help them tread lightly on the earth. Over the years, through more than 100 conservation service projects, in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, we have instilled in hundreds of young people a passion for giving back to the wilderness as they enjoy its gifts.

The food we eat is one of the key factors in determining our environmental impact. We maintain an organic garden at Basecamp to supply fresh, delicious salad and vegetables for your meals here. Participants may choose to help out in the garden while spending time at Basecamp, a great way to connect with the soil and learn where your food comes from.

Finally, we operate as close as possible to a zero waste facility. Organic waste is composted for use in our garden, and we recycle our metal, plastic, paper and corrugated cardboard. Non-recyclable cardboard is retained for burning in our woodstove in the winter. We even reuse printer paper that has only been used on one side, and gather manure from Jake, our resident horse, to fertilize our grass fields.

We try to employ administration staff from the immediate area, and encourage them to commute by bike or on foot. Our administration staff participates in our recycling and composting program, reducing waste from their homes.

Finally, we host this website with a carbon neutral ISP to minimize the impact of our internet presence. In fact, Green Geeks purchases carbon credits equivalent to 3 times their energy usage.