The wide-open green spaces of America's National Park system are about to get a lot greener with a new partnership between the National Park Foundation and Tupperware Brands, the Iconic kitchenware company.
How is a food storage company connected to the country's span of National Parks?
We wondered that too.
"One of our core values is that we need to nurture the planet for good," said Luis Vazquez, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing for Tupperware. "And when we think about what national parks are offering to the people of the U.S, our values are actually very connected in terms of allocating people and protecting the planet."
The company is about to hit its 75th anniversary, and they'd like everyone to know there's a lot more to them than what you might find in the kitchen.
"Just 30% of our products are coming from food containers and the other 70% is many other things," said Vazquez. "Cooking in the microwave, portable bottled waters, and other things, that's Tupperware."
On their journey to transform their company values, Vazquez said their nonprofit arm realized what good they could do by joining forces with the National Park Foundation, which isn't the Park Service.
Instead, the foundation serves to support all 423 National Park sites that we know and love.
"We help them by raising money to make what they do even better and at a larger scale," said CEO and President Will Shafroth. "That could be environmental education, conservation, or initiatives like sustainability."
Shafroth said the government does the basics, and the foundation provides excellence.
"The trail that you love to walk on in Yosemite is fine, but what we can do is allow it to be safer and increase the capacity of people going up and down, so it doesn't erode over time," said Shafroth. "We can make those repairs through our support more quickly."
Shafroth added that they could do things a lot faster than the long and drawn-out federal budget process.
"If you want to do something that affects 2023 or 2024, you need to start planning for it now and thinking about it," said Shafroth. "Whereas we can raise money today through a partner like Tupperware and execute changes immediately."
So, when Tupperware pledged its support of a million dollars, Shafroth and his team shared their ideas.
For starters, there will be an addition of 65 water filling stations in six of the more high trafficked sites that need them, including the National Mall.
"It will result in a reduction of 10 million plastic water bottles that would otherwise be drunk," said Shafroth.
Shafroth added that some of the money would go towards signage and direction about recycling.
Some will go towards education and composting through solar panels, which will help run the Grand Canyon National Park's food waste program.
"Around 40% of waste in the parks is coming from compostable products, food, or other raw materials," Vazquez said. "What we're doing with the solar panels that we're installing is we're going to reduce a thousand tons of waste plus the reduction of green gas emissions because you don't need to move that waste somewhere else."
When you think of it in terms of visitors, these parks see some 330 million people a year.
With a lot of people comes a lot of waste.
Shafroth said he sees it as a chance to change mindsets for the greater good.
"It's also a huge opportunity to educate those visitors about the importance of contributing in small ways like just reusing your water bottle and not bringing in something like that."