The TRUE Silver certified Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez Valley holds the title of the sixth largest Native American gaming operation in a competitive California marketplace. The Chumash Casino Resort entertains more than 3.5 million visitors per year and employs near 2,000 people, making it the largest private employer in Santa Barbara County. A commitment to this is extraordinarily significant for Native American ownership and the community as a whole.  

Since 2004, the Chumash’s total waste stream has gone from 7.2 million pounds per year to 3.2 million pounds per year in 2018. Recycling has risen from 6% to 90% in those 14 years of recycling operations.  

A distinguished member of the EPA Food Recovery Program and a 2020 USGBC Leadership Award recipient, the Chumash Casino also says employee education has been pivotal to the success of their zero-waste program. Its large financial investment in training and new zero waste infrastructure has paid off for their bottom line and driven significant improvements in their community. And through TRUE Certification, they have demonstrated their ability to create forward thinking programs such as closing the loop on Styrofoam cups and producing carpet cushion products made from the casino’s post-consumer carpet material. 

Not only do we celebrate this casino for its leadership and outstanding achievement — but we also celebrate it for its innovative and compassionate approach to bringing people together. With TRUE, the Chumash have optimized used uniforms to clothe the poor in developing countries or process locally for shop rags. And with Veggie First, a local food bank the casino has partnered with, they are donating food to feed seniors and bringing greater communal awareness to the elders’ needs.

They know that our collective health is directly tied to whether or not we consider the health and wellbeing not just of the person next to us, but also of those generational bookends at the beginning and ends of their lives — the young and the old who sometimes get overlooked as the past and future representations of us — but who are never properly accounted for in their current needs.  

There’s so much heart in this company’s leadership — the kind that, if observed and replicated by others, could lead to transformational change across our field.