Engaging our communities with an environmentally responsible business has gone from a talked about value, to real practice in the last few years. The State of Montana, fueled by MSU Extension's Montana Pollution Prevention Program, has been rewarding businesses focused on preserving and prioritizing the health of not only our environment but also our economic resources for 19 years with the EcoStar Awards Program. This year, Highland Adventures is being recognized for its sustainability and green certification programs. Their core areas of focus are Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Renewables, Water Conservation, Waste Diversion, and Habitat Protection.
The Ecostar Program focuses on businesses and organizations in Montana taking environmentally responsible steps to reduce solid and hazardous waste, maximize efficiencies, conserve energy and water, improve air quality, and create a more sustainable business model.
Pollution prevention reduces both financial costs, such as those incurred through waste management and cleanup, and environmental costs like health problems and ecosystem damage for individuals and businesses alike. It protects the environment by conserving natural resources while strengthening economic growth through more efficient production in industry and less need for companies, households, and communities to handle waste management.
For their efforts, Highline Adventures has been presented with the 2019 Montana Ecostar Pollution Prevention Award. They are very grateful to be a small, family-owned company, making an impact alongside considerably larger Montana businesses that have teams dedicated to progress and tracking data to measure improvement. Though small, they have committed to being leaders in the communities their hotels are in, and in the economy hotel segment nationally.
High line Adventures, LLC operates seven hotels and a campground in Montana. Our family owns each of these establishments:
As you can see, our small company has big goals. Primarily, we see our hotels as educational opportunities for the traveling public. We have created little informative and engaging signs that are posted in key areas that highlight small ways guests can change their behaviors when traveling, and even when they get home.
These might be posted next to the soap and shampoo dispensers in the showers, informing guests about the plastic saved when using bulk soap dispensers instead of little bottles. They might be posted above the recycling bins in each room, highlighting the reduction in waste and the opportunity to keep plastic out of our waterways. They might be displayed above the breakfast bar to illustrate the benefits of using real silverware and wooden coffee stir sticks. They have a variety of educational opportunities in each hotel, speaking to the public about the advantages that come with a green model of operation.
"We implemented many of our changes because they made sense or felt like the right thing to do. Unfortunately, as a small company, we didn't have sophisticated metrics or data tracking. However, in 2019, we began testing and using the Wyndham Green platform, where we enter and track our utility usage. This gives us solid data for comparison in the future, " says Eric Sheckleton, owner of Highline Adventures.
Wyndham has a Green Certification with five levels, with criteria verified through pictures, statements, and even inspections. Highline Adventures was proud that their seven hotels were the first ever to be certified at the Core level in the new Wyndham Green program. Some of their achievements include:
After attending the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Summit at Bridger Bowl this past October, they committed to following the GSTC guidelines to become a Montana sustainable tourism partner. While they had already implemented some initiatives, like the ones listed above, the GSTC guidelines expanded their perspective toward the more considerable impact their hotels have on the community.
Specifically, there are four areas Highline Adventures will focus their impact going forward:
They will seek out new processes and initiatives that help them preserve these beautiful communities and our environment.
Highline Adventures is very honored to be a recipient of the Ecostar Program Award. They look forward to making an impact on the environment and being a sustainable tourism partner in the great state of Montana.