It's no secret to most that travel is a significant culprit when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions. To put it into perspective, the plane you fly in to reach your destination produces 53 lbs of carbon dioxide for every mile of flight. That's 2,650 pounds of carbon for every 50 miles you fly – a weight is equivalent to that of almost four and a half Montana grizzly bears. Driving is the next best thing but still creates a significant impact. Every gallon of gas you burn while road tripping in a car or RV creates 20 pounds of carbon dioxide.
As a hospitality company that encourages travel and exploration, we at Starry Night Lodging feel it's our responsibility to do our best to use sustainable practices and promote sustainable tourism. Understanding that carbon emissions are among the largest contributors to climate change caused by travel, we knew we needed to find ways to mitigate this toxic gas. And while many companies, including Starry Night, are doing what they can to reduce their carbon emissions, it isn't enough. Actively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is also necessary to combat the effects of the climate crisis.
One of the main ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere is carbon sequestration. What is carbon sequestration? Bella Sheckleton, Starry Night Lodging Owners Eric and Veronica Sheckleton's daughter, studied this method in her internship with Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) and explained it simply:
"Carbon sequestration is the process of storing carbon permanently in carbon sinks – natural places that take in more carbon than they release, such as soil, forests, or the ocean. One of the most common methods of carbon sequestration is regenerative agriculture, which involves using natural chemical reactions to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil. This process reduces emissions, improves soil health, and even enhances agricultural yields."
Regenerative agriculture works through a combination of healthy farming and ranching practices. These include refraining from tilling, which stops the release of carbon caused by soil disturbance; no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides, all of which pollute the soil and disrupt natural mineral levels; crop rotation, which creates plant diversity and adds nutrients to the soil; and intensive grazing, allowing cattle to graze a smaller area of land over a shorter period of time, which minimizes weeds and encourages a more diverse diet for the cattle.
The Western Sustainability Exchange (WSL) is a local organization based in Livingston, Montana. They partner with local farms and ranches to educate them about regenerative agriculture practices and encouraging them toward the regular use of these practices. Because agriculture is such a large industry here in Montana, these practices have the potential to do a lot of good for our environment locally. That's why WSE became an obvious partner for Starry Night.
Last year, Eric and Veronica's other daughter Liberty organized an awareness campaign and fundraiser at the Western Heritage Inn in Bozeman to promote WSE. The campaign, targeted toward travelers, includes a learning lab that shows the amount of carbon typically used by a visitor coming to Bozeman and highlights the amount of carbon sequestered by a healthy root system on sustainably grazed land. The campaign encourages visitors to donate to the organization to offset the carbon produced through their travel, offsetting the carbon emitted here in Montana.
We encourage all visitors who stay at our properties (or anywhere) to donate to WSE to help offset the carbon produced from your journey. If you plan to stay at the Western Heritage Inn in Bozeman, be sure to check out the Learning Lab and learn more about the importance of carbon sequestration.
To learn more about what Starry Night Lodging is doing to reduce its carbon footprint, energy use, and waste, check out our Sustainable Tourism page. If you're ready to book your trip with a travel partner dedicated to leaving places better than they found them, check out our available hotels and campgrounds for your next adventure.