We sat down with Laura LaMere, the Environmental Services Manager at Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison to talk sustainability. In this role she works on holistic sustainability in Ho-Chunk Gaming’s operations. She shared her view that “sustainability isn’t just environmental it is overall improvement of the people too.”

In this role, she quickly realized that many materials going to the landfill could be reused or recycled. She took her team on a tour of the landfill to kick off new recycling initiatives and inspire them to divert as much waste as possible. Once the pandemic hit, Laura was discouraged by the amount of PPE waste she saw in the trash, but also littering the facility grounds. “The pandemic makes it harder, but it fuels me to want do more,” she explained. After seeing a post from Sustain Dane about TerraCycle, she contacted the organization to start mask and glove recycling. To help prevent mask litter they added mask recycling next to each exit. Currently, there is a pallet of over 600 pounds of gloves that are going to be shipped out for recycling soon. They also use TerraCycle to recycle the bottle caps from their bar.

Some of their other sustainability initiatives include encouraging EV use by adding electric vehicle chargers to their parking lot and donating money from gambling cards with small amounts on them that patrons leave at the facility. To date, this program has raised over $18,000 for local nonprofit organizations working on community projects that align with Ho-Chunk Gaming’s vision.

Laura recognizes that sustainability is not limited to simply reducing waste. She cares deeply about her team and is working on initiatives for staff well-being. To support this, their facility has a wellness room where staff can decompress from the noise and lights of the casino. And even with current staffing shortages Laura continues to encourage her team members to take time off.

Looking to the future, Laura has big hopes for even more sustainability initiatives at Ho-Chunk Gaming. From composting, solar panels, eliminating paper towel usage and even the possibility of becoming a LEED certified casino, there is no doubt that Ho-Chunk Gaming will continue to excel in sustainability.