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Sustainable Souvenirs from Yellowstone National Park

Green Pieces "Ameri-CANS" 500-piece jigsaw puzzle imbedded with wildflower seeds.
Green Pieces "Ameri-CANS" 500-piece jigsaw puzzle imbedded with wildflower seeds.
photo by Gigi Ragland

When traveling, many of us would like to bring home a piece of our holiday memory in the form of a souvenir. Some of the best 'sustainable' souvenirs you can take home are those made from the local artisans of the destination. Treasures might be weavings from Peru, or pottery from Mexico, where the proceeds benefit the community and keep the culture alive when buying directly from the artist. And yet another shopping alternative offered to tourists in Yellowstone National Park is the recently opened "For Future Generations" interpretive store located in the historic Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. It's not the kind of store where you will find a line-up of dusty chotchkies on the shelves.

The store has a round-up of great eco-friendly goodies including the puzzle I purchased. The irony of the series intrigued me. The series called "Ameri-CANS" uses over 3,000 aluminum cans to create the image on the puzzle. My puzzle held the image of an eagle with an American flag background. The name of the earth-friendly jigsaw puzzle line is Green Pieces. All puzzles are also imbedded with wildflower seeds so after completing the puzzle you can plant the 500 pieces in soil to grow wildflowers. All the materials used to create the puzzle are 100% renewable and/or recycled and all are bio-degradable. I was told by the store manager that they could barely hold them in stock because they are so popular.

Beth Pratt, director of affairs for Xanterra's Yellowstone operations considers the retail store to be the first of its kind to devoted to interpreting climate change. In a press release Pratt said “Our goal for this store is to connect the park visitor to the threats climate change and pollution pose to our national parks—and our world—with the need to make sustainable consumer choices.” Each product sold will also have an “environmental scorecard” describing the sustainable attributes. Conventional items will be offered alongside sustainable options.
 “Because sustainability means different things to different people, we will offer a variety of products that meet varying definitions of ‘sustainable,’” said Pratt. “For some people, products made locally are the most important factor while others place the most significance on organic materials. Still others see recycled content as the key.”

There are even plans to install displays that will educate people on climate change happening within the park and a kiosk that allows visitors to calculate their carbon footprints.

Xanterra, the park's consessionnaire, is committed to providing environmental education, sustainable practices and facilities throughout Yellowstone and its other national park affiliations. The company has been recognized in the hospitality industry for its focus on preservation and protection of the environment. The most recent accolade dispatched on Xanterra Parks and Resorts was the National Park Service's "Environmental Achievement Award" for Yellowstone and 3 other national parks.

For more Information: visit and/or for more information about Xanterra, links to individual properties and reservations numbers, visit