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Old 12-14-2011   #1
 
Durango/ Gunnison, Colorado
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Sustaiable rafting!!!! a basic paper on the subject

A paper touching on ideas for companies and individuals to become more sustainable within the rafting community.



The State of Sustainability within the Whitewater Rafting Community


Whitewater rafting is among the eight fastest growing outdoor recreation activities tracked by the United States Forest Service[1] .With this rapid growth within the industry is the prospect for money to be made, and that’s what everybody want right? When an opportunity to make money arises, most companies and individuals see it as “how can I make the greatest profit with the least amount of expenses?” I mean that’s business 101 right, less time, effort and money put towards things that create an expense, equals a greater profit. While this mentality makes total business sense, sometime expenses are worth more than their monetary value. One of these “things” that take more time, money and energy to implement is the idea and practice of sustainability, sustainability from an individual standpoint as well as business standpoint.
The sport of whitewater rafting is one that takes place within a wilderness setting, a setting that is being threatened more every day. I’m not going to take time trying to explain the reasons why and how our wilderness areas are being threatened, and the facts behind it. The fact of the matter is that the state of our wilderness is in decline, wilderness as it pertains to the boating community refers to rivers, the life blood of many and most ecosystems. Because we boaters recreate on these “blood lines”, our actions have a direct impact near and far, not only do we have an impact on the sections of river we love and use, every step of the way we are leaving a mark. From the materials we choose to buy and use, to the way in which we get to where we want to go, to our actions while we are there, all is added up and washed downstream impacting everything it touches and sustains for hundreds and hundreds of miles.
I feel safe in assuming that the boating community as a whole consists of individuals who are environmentally conscious, many already take the extra step towards making sustainably minded decisions in their homes and daily activities, and if not are more likely to have that positive attitude when asked or pushed toward these types of decisions. This is an awesome reality that I feel will give our community an extra step forward and a strong foundation in which we can build upon.

So what can one do?

The biggest and most influential thing individuals and rafting companies can do to lessen their impact and start the change for the better is voting with their dollar. What I mean by this is by buying products that are made with environmentally friendly materials and process, made locally (or in the US), are durable and long lasting, along with clients choosing companies that have a sustainability action plan and act on it.
The most necessary piece of equipment for any company or individual is obviously the raft itself, and go figure the raft is the worst and has the biggest impact on the environment. There are two main materials used when making a raft, both have a negative impact environmentally, one less than the other. These materials are Hypalon and PVC.
Hypalon contains two main toxic ingredients, carbon tetrachloride and talc, both present potential health risks. Carbon tetrachloride causes skin irritation with direct contact, and acute inhalation or oral exposure causes headache, weakness, lethargy, nausea, and vomiting. Long term exposure leads to liver damage, central nervous system depression, and kidney damage. When it comes to rafts specifically Hypalon rafts are known to be more durable, last longer, higher resistance to UV rays and heat as well as have a much higher resale value.
PVC is by far the most widely used plastic today; it’s in everything from your car, house siding, plumbing to your raft and PFD. The production of PVC releases an incredibly toxic substance called dioxin; this carcinogen has a much more negative affect on the people who work with it as well as nearby community members. These affects range from cancer,neurological damage, immune system failure, respiratory problems, liver and kidney failure as well as serious birth defects. When it comes to PVC rafts, they are known to be cheaper, lighter and not as durable.
What this means to me is that although both of these materials have their downsides one must consider; rafts that are made from PVC are cheaper and thus being the better choice money wise, they are much less sustainable. Hypalon rafts are going to last longer and not put out as much of a negative impact during the construction phase, thus a better choice.
Other things companies are already doing:
· Waste vegetable oil fueled busses “Ecobus
· on-site refinery
· photovoltaic solar-electric arrays
· solar hot water heaters
· Organic garden and greenhouse, for lunches.




· Online registration for trips to reduce their paper waste


· Moving to 100% recycled paper for all printed documents


· Offering our main promotional materials only in online downloadable format to save printing and paper


· No longer mailing printed advertising (unless it is requested)


· Strongly promoting recycling at our operational facility to all customers, both guided and rental


· Constantly working to increase the objects we can recycle on all trips and to reduce unneeded excess


· Offering only e-mail newsletters to cut down on paper and mailing waste


· Sending after-trip thank-you’s only via e-mail to save on paper and printing


· Moving toward all-digital marketing in the hopes of removing print altogether

· Incorporating an environmental education component for guests, subliminally educating guests on sustainable process’


It is clear that the ideas are endless and have only begun to scratch the surface, all we as boaters can do is become more aware and conscious of our impact on the environment that we have we do certain things and think about how we can start to reverse this negative trend that we have found ourselves in.













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Old 12-15-2011   #2
 
mass, confusion
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Interesting. I do wonder why there are no hypalon boats manufactured in the USA? I wonder if it is because the material itself is not manufactured here. If hypalon is not manufactured in the USA, I wonder why? Is it environmental regulations?

If the material is made overseas, there is probably not a lot of cost difference in shipping material rolls versus rolled boats, so companies may be taking advantage of the cheap labor in the country where the hypalon material is actually processed.

The paper versus digital advertising is something I have wondered about as well. You have to look deeper than the surface. What is the impact of manufacturing the computer, display included, and what part of the product can be and is recycled. How far did it travel and by what method did the computer arrive in this country from the country of origin? Also, what about the power to run the computer? Not making an argument against digital and for paper. I am just saying comparing impact is not always cut and dry.
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Old 12-15-2011   #3
 
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Interesting. I do wonder why there are no hypalon boats manufactured in the USA? I wonder if it is because the material itself is not manufactured here. If hypalon is not manufactured in the USA, I wonder why? Is it environmental regulations?

Pure rummor but I have heard that aging hyplon plants (Dupont) just did have enought orders to sustain a rebuild of their plant. So, they shut down the plan.

If the material is made overseas, there is probably not a lot of cost difference in shipping material rolls versus rolled boats, so companies may be taking advantage of the cheap labor in the country where the hypalon material is actually processed.

Sure, But let us not forget that these products are developed and tested in the usa. American engineers designed the materials and the manufacturing process for them. Welding machines, CNC, chemical formulas, preaty much everything used is thunked up in the USA and Chinese buy the technologies from us. When we buy Chinise made boats, alot of the money ends up in the usa. The guy who sales the boat or designs it makes more than the guy who physically made the boat. We turely live in global market place.

The paper versus digital advertising is something I have wondered about as well. You have to look deeper than the surface. What is the impact of manufacturing the computer, display included, and what part of the product can be and is recycled. How far did it travel and by what method did the computer arrive in this country from the country of origin? Also, what about the power to run the computer? Not making an argument against digital and for paper. I am just saying comparing impact is not always cut and dry.

I believe that the idea is that companies will have computers even if they are a "papered" documantaion type plant. So, the idea is computers are hear to stay so use less papper by making your existing computer network work harder. I don't believe that most shops need to buy more computers to reduce paper comsumption and go digital. Also computers are going to use power no matter how much data they hold.
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Old 12-15-2011   #4
 
mass, confusion
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I agree that computers are here to stay. Doesn't make them more environmentally sound than paper. I don't have facts to make an argument here. I'm just saying turn everything over and and look at all sides. How toxic are computer monitors. How many millions of them are going out every day? Are they recycled? How are they recycled? Reading more stuff on computers instead of paper means more hours on the display and other parts which means they go bad sooner. What about operating system obsolescence which often forces implementing new hardware?

I am not arguing for paper. No one loves trees more than me. Cutting down trees is bad. But, is the carbon footprint of the manufacturing of all the plastic and other carbon based components in millions of computers killing more trees than paper production? Is the carbon footprint of long distance transportation of millions of computers worse than paper production? I don't know the answer. I am just posing the question.
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Old 12-15-2011   #5
 
Up High, Colorado
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Weak

I believe NRS manufactures their boats in Mexico due to the Tax break provided by NAFTA.
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Old 12-16-2011   #6
 
Horserump, Colorado
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Ok so much for the boats and advertizing. Now what about all the other stuff. Like paddles, oars, PFD's, stoves, tables, chairs, tents, pots, pans, straps, thermal protection, helmets, dry bags, storage boxes, etc. How many of these items are manufactured in the USA? How many are assembled here? Items like these can have a huge impact, they may not cost as much as a raft but when looked at how often they're replaced over the life of the raft they add up pretty fast. The USA has become a service society and we don't really make much here any more. That needs to change and this industry could be a driver for that change. Ya have to start somewhere.
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Old 12-16-2011   #7
 
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I don't see how recycling and going paperless etc...has much to do with actual wilderness protection. If the developers, gas and oil companys decide to destroy some pristine area for profit it doesn't make any difference how you dispose of your trash.
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Old 12-17-2011   #8
 
Horserump, Colorado
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Ya gotta start some where
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Old 12-18-2011   #9
 
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One positive thing about rafting - our equipment tends to be quite durable. Much of it is also serviceable at at lower cost than replacement.
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Old 12-18-2011   #10
 
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Actually to me rafting is one of the few areas where I can purchase goods made in the USA and almost always the best quality rafting gear is still made here.
So it's a win win, you get the best quality gear and contribute to our economy in a positive way.

Raft and Cat, both made in Oregon (sotars)
Frames and boxes, hand made in the US (recretec, AAA)
Straps, drop bags all made by hand in CO.
Oars, US made Cataract oars.
Stove, fire pan, propane bottles all made in the US by Partner Steel.
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