Tourism businesses in Alaska are getting certified for being environmentally friendly to encourage more companies to move toward sustainable practices.

The certification is offered through a program called Adventure Green Alaska. The program launched in 2009 and has since been taken up by the Alaska Travel Industry Association, a nonprofit representing tourism businesses across the state, The Peninsula Clarion reported.

The voluntary certification program recognizes tourism businesses operating in Alaska that meet standards of economic, environmental and social sustainability.

One business certified under the program is a ranch and recreational vehicle and tent campground in Kenai that uses fish waste as a fertilizer.

“[We were] trying to figure out how can we utilize that good resource instead of just hauling it off to the dump,” said Ronna Martin, who owns Diamond M Ranch Resort with Blair Martin. “One, it’s costing money for the landfill, it’s costing money for us to have it hauled to the landfill and it’s a valuable resource that’s being thrown away.”

The Martins said they went through the Adventure Green Alaska application without having to change much about their operations.

To get certified, applicants must provide documentation of their business practices, including compliance with federal environmental, consumer protection and labor laws. They must also say whether their operations impact sites of cultural or historical importance.

When the tourism group took over the certification program, the “application was streamlined with the goal of getting more businesses (to have) their foot in the door with sustainability practices,” said Sara Leonard, the Alaska Travel Industry Association’s president and CEO.

There are many travelers who look specifically for eco-friendly businesses, so the certification can give businesses an edge, Leonard said. Businesses that are considering making the switch to more eco-friendly practices can do so in a way that will pay off financially, she said.

“Depending on what you’re converting, in the long-run you’re eventually saving money because you have more efficient energy use of the material,” Leonard said. “I’ve heard anecdotally it can be a good business decision.”

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Photo Credit: Alaska's tourism industry recently streamlined its application process for certifying businesses as environmentally friendly. Pictured is a traveler taking photos near Fairbanks, Alaska. JLS Photography - Alaska / Flickr