Green's the word at Outdoor Retailers Show

Winter Market » Conservationists find like-minded crowd at trade show
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When scientific studies suggested last year that an organic compound known as Bisophenol A could be unhealthy, many consumers and retailers were at a loss about what to do with older plastic water bottles containing BPA.

Stanley bottle company came up with a solution.

Working closely with its Seattle neighbor, REI, which had thousands of bottles it wanted to discard (but not in a landfill), Stanley started collecting old water bottles. The company melted bottles down and reshaped them into a polycarbonate material that serves as the exterior of mugs whose mouthpieces are made out of a safe, non-BPA plastic.

This week at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in the Salt Palace Convention Center, Stanley set up bins where participants can drop off their old water bottles and get a recycled mug in return.

"It's a great way to tell our e-cycle story, showcase our recycling capability and help customers out," said Stanley spokeswoman JoAnne Anderson, estimating more than 300 exchanges had been made by Friday afternoon.

The trade show, which continues through Sunday, offers opportunities for numerous conservation and environmental groups to spread their messages to an audience of generally like-minded business people -- and, through them, to thousands of clients.

David Nimkin, a longtime community organizer in Salt Lake City and now southwest region director of the National Parks Conservation Association, said his organization confers often with the Outdoor Industry Association on matters of mutual interest, such as advocating a $2 billion economic stimulus package that includes infrastructure work in national parks.

"It will create jobs now and sustain local economies validated by national parks and tourism," he said, a campaign with ramifications for virtually every company attending Outdoor Retailer. "We want companies to know who we are so that, in different parts of the country, they can represent our common interests to their public officials."

At a nearby booth, Dave Pacheco was trying to recruit workers for Wilderness Volunteers, a nonprofit that does trail-repair work or removes invasive species such as tamarisk trees and Russian olive trees. Of four dozen Wilderness Volunteers projects scheduled this year, 11 are in Utah.

"We try to get to areas that don't get as much volunteerism," said Pacheco, who ran Utah Backcountry Volunteers before merging it into Wilderness Volunteers.

Friends of Alta Executive Director Jennifer Clancy is hoping to secure corporate sponsors for her group's projects. Much of its work involves buying privately owned parcels in Albion Basin and preserving them, but it also include things such as conducting wetlands studies.

Money is tight, but the Winter Market obviously attracted some people with an affinity for Alta, Clancy said. "I have a bunch of business cards to follow up on."