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Sustainability a driver in Ho-Chunk’s Madison expansion plans

Respecting nature is part of Ho-Chunk Nation’s DNA, and it will play a pivotal role in the tribe’s planned expansion of the Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison site.

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Superior interior

Ho-Chunk has been incorporating sustainability in all of its Madison operations, and much of the progress has come with a more environmentally friendly approach to maintenance. Paul Bluege, environmental services inventory supervisor for the Madison facility, acknowledges that Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison is now “cleaning more for health than to remove dirt,” which he referred to as “high-tech simple.”

High-tech simplicity entails steps such as changing from caustic chemicals to sustainable solutions, the use of biodegradable gloves, and moving away from cottons to microfiber towels and mop heads. Some changes produce savings, some are more expensive, but “creating a sustainable planet is worth it,” Bluege states.

Some new products have been problematic — biodegradable bags, for example — and scrapped for the time being, but there is still hope in future product iterations. The key thing is to keep trying newer and greener products to see how they work.

Experimentation can bring back-to-the-future change, which is the case with a cleaning solution Bluege developed while using electrolysis. Taking a page from a 19th century British inventor Michael Faraday, who experimented with electromagnetism and electrochemistry, Bluege used electrolysis, water, and a few minerals to develop a cleaning solution that works well on just about anything. Once the engineered-water solution has done its job, it reverts back to water and just a few minerals, he notes, and it’s certified by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“I’ve limited it down to three basic chemicals to do our cleaning now,” Bluege explains. “The only real caustic chemicals we’re still using are toilet cleaners, where I really haven’t found anything better — yet.”

Co-existing with creature comforts

Ho-Chunk’s green team will meet this month for focus group discussions on the expansion project, and Tracy reiterated that it must adhere to tribe’s natural bill of rights.

“We’re thinking the big ‘S’ first and foremost,” she says of sustainability.

That’s not to say there won’t be room for modern technology, according to Lincoln, an unapologetic cellphone user. “I love modern conveniences,” he states. “We’re not going back to the days before Wisconsin was colonized. It’s about finding the right balance so that we can co-exist in the world.”

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