Greening Custer State Park Resort
Posted: Monday, November 28th
Ronnie Garrett | CleanLink
"We wanted to be more environmentally friendly and we felt it was necessary to obtain Green Seal certification. We have an environmental impact on the world and we need to lessen that impact," says Josh Schmaltz, regional director of Custer State Park Resort, which operates four lodges within South Dakota's 71,000-acre Custer State Park.
The Resort achieved GS-33 — the Green Seal Standard for Hotels and Lodging Properties — certification in August after an 18-month certification process.
At the onset of the process, Schmaltz readdressed all products, switching to towels and tissue containing recycled content and implementing Green Seal-approved cleaning chemicals. The switch resulted in product testing and working with a manufacturing partner to identify supplies best suited for the facility.
"Some products cost more," Schmaltz says. "However the number of products we now use is less, as is the amount of product necessary to clean."
Once products were identified, the resort beefed up staff training to ensure custodians understood process changes. For instance, though rooms already had recycling bins, housekeepers often combined contents with the trash.
"The staff had to be trained that all recycling had to go into the recycling receptacles out back," Schmaltz says. "It was a tedious process."
One thing that aided in staff buy-in was involving them from the get-go, he notes. Educational meetings armed staff with statistics on the resort's environmental footprint and its impact on the earth. Later meetings encouraged staff to contribute their input.
"They need to buy into this program without preaching or harping," Schmaltz explains. "If you ask them for their ideas, suddenly they own it."
Once GS-33 was achieved, the resort began promoting it on its website, in brochures and throughout the facility itself.
"It's important to our guests that we do our part to lessen our environmental footprint. While we haven't had guests say they wouldn't stay here if we weren't certified, it's a nice feature that they truly appreciate," Schmaltz says.