I had the great pleasure of visiting our only Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary amusement park, Silver Dollar City, in Branson, MO. The park was closed for the day, so the usual squeals, screams, and laughter, as well as the wafting smells of fried dough and burgers, were missing. I recognize that a fully patronized amusement park is going to feel much different than one shared by myself and a number of staff hanging Christmas lights, but the word that kept coming to mind for this property was “intimate”. There was an evident passion to preserve the woodlands during development and the shady paths made for an enjoyable walk. 

My favorite part of the park, however, was the ever-present reuse of materials. Everywhere we went in the park, my guide, Sue Noel, who’s job, she told me, is in no small part to make the modern attractions look old, pointed out new uses for old items. Everything from wiring to old wagon wheels make it into new and old exhibits. Frying oil is converted to biofuel. They have launched a food composting system and hope to expand it to the entire park. 

The wheels on an old caboose were repurposed into the legs on benches. A new ride representing an exploding powder mill, used parts of an old ride, including its track and a rail car to “show” the extent of the damage of the explosion. Fun stuff! 

An old grist stone became part of a tribute outside of the church, which had been carefully taken down, moved to the park, and rebuilt. Other buildings within the park were also salvaged from other sites. 

Reuse is one of the primary components of the four R’s of waste reduction: reduce, reuse, recycle, and refuse. Walking through Silver Dollar City reinforced for me that reusing can be a lot of fun as we take the opportunity to engage our creative side. 

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