Plastic Bottle Reduction Program in State Parks

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Tennessee State Parks understands the importance of reducing the number of plastic bottles that go into the waste stream. One of the highest waste streams captured in state parks is plastic bottles from guests. While it’s important to stay hydrated during outdoor activities, especially in the summer time, it is equally important to do so sustainably. That is why several parks are taking steps to reduce plastic cup and bottle waste within the park.

Johnsonville State Historic Park recently had their 2017 Junior Ranger camp on June 5th-9th and instead of giving the participants plastic cups for drinks or water bottles throughout the day; they provided a canteen to each Junior Ranger. In previous years, cases of water and Gatorade were provided to the Junior Rangers for the camp. The Junior Rangers would drink some of their bottle, but throughout the course of the day would sit it down somewhere, or misplace it, and then get a new bottle. This resulted in half-full bottles everywhere that had to be poured out.

This year, they had 27 Junior Rangers ages 8 to 12 and each one received a canteen that would act as their water bottle for the entire length of the program. Every Junior Ranger got to decorate the outer cover of the canteen so that they could easily distinguish and keep up with their own. Additionally, the canteen was thematic in support of the Civil War story of Johnsonville State Historic Park.

The Junior Rangers were proud of their personalized canteens, and were held responsible for keeping up with them throughout the duration of the camp. This not only taught them the importance of reducing the use of plastic bottles and containers, but also supported an overlying theme of sustainability that the ranger camp portrayed. Through the use of their canteens, the Junior Rangers will learn to think about how their choices impact the environment, which is one of the foremost goals of the Go Green With Us initiative of Tennessee State Parks.

Similarly, Indian Mountain State Park recently received a water bottle filling station that was installed on May 5th. The filling station helps encourage visitors to bring re-usable containers by allowing them a quick and convenient place to re-fill their bottles throughout the day. The filling station has an automatic counter on it that keeps up with how many plastic bottles have been saved by choosing to use it to refill your container.

They have received positive feedback from guests, and it has become very popular with both runners and hikers. Since the installation date, the State Park has saved 587 bottles. In addition to providing a great asset and convenience to visitors, it also helps to promote environmental awareness.

These are just a few examples of parks that are making strides in environmental awareness and waste reduction. However, each park has their own “Go Green with Us” program that features many different sustainable aspects. Go check out your local parks to see what green initiatives they have and how you can get involved!

The Office of Sustainable Practices at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation was created to advance a culture of sustainability across the department, state government and with our various partners through an action-based approach. Conserving resources and using energy wisely makes sense on a basic level: It saves money and positively impacts our health and environment today and for future generations. Connect with the Office of Sustainable Practices on its website.

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