The San Juan Islands of Washington State deserve all the kudos and great “press” they receive in terms of its scenic beauty, rural atmosphere and amazingly diverse wildlife. This view of a waterside campsite at Reid Harbor on Stuart Island, is just one of many amazing places you’ll see on our 3, 4 and 5 day trips.
Unfortunately, this well deserved reputation has its price. Due to the islands popularity (and indeed all along the Puget Sound corridor from Bellingham through Seattle to Olympia), population pressures continue to increase. San Juan County has been one of the fastest growing counties in Washington State for the past 5 years.
Loss of wildlife habitat, resident orca whale and salmon runs getting placed on federal endangered species lists, the disappearance of wetlands and shoreline due to commercial and housing development have all taken their toll on the environment and the wild places that are such an integral part of the great Pacific Northwest. I’m reminded of a statement made by one of our state governmental officials. She said that Washington State continues to suffer from the effects of “a thousand small cuts to the environment.”
Living and working on San Juan Island also presents special problems and responsibilities. All goods that come to the island arrive by ferry or boat. Everything that is not consumed either stays on the island permanently or must be shipped off by boat – which includes all garbage as well as recyclables. With a summer population of over 10,000 people that can add up to a lot of garbage!
The question then arises as to what a small, seasonal company with ten employees can do to minimize our effect on the environment? As a native Washingtonian with a deep and abiding love and concern for our state and the islands I have tried to structure my company to address some of these concerns. Here is what I came up with…
- Our guides and office staff are strongly encouraged to walk or bicycle to work.
- Bottles, tin cans and plastic that come back from our trips are recycled in addition to office paper and other consumables.
- All light bulbs in our office have been changed to energy efficient fluorescent bulbs.
- We have started growing some of our own trip food. While our garden space is limited it’s a small start in producing some of our own fresh organic vegetables for our guests. (That’s our guide Kerry at right with a bowl of freshly picked organically grown Rainier cherries).
- All our leftover trip food waste is composted and then added back into the vegetable beds used for growing our own produce.
- In addition, we also buy and support fresh, organic island produce purchased at the local Farmer’s Market in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island.