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What is Green Friday and how does it relate to adventure travel?

You've heard about Black Friday, the Friday after US Thanksgiving which traditionally kicks of the Christmas shopping season. The Friday when companies fall over each other to outdo the competion with incredible sales. The Friday people line up at stores well before the doors open, then rush in to grab a deal. And perhaps scoring a black eye in the process as they fight each other over that last must-have gadget.

Black Friday indeed.

But now there is Green Friday - an altogether more interesting concept. Green Friday encourages consumers to avoid getting caught up in the shopping frenzy, and instead, to shop sustainable and ethical offers with consideration and mindfulness.

So how does that relate to adventure travel? Isn't travel by its nature not exactly sustainable?

Well, hang on. There are some great options out there to enjoy travel knowing it is sustainable.

Experiences, not gadgets

My daughter asked me the other day what I wanted for Christmas. I had to think about that. I pretty much have everything I want and certainly everything I need.

So I said: "Nothing. That is, no things. Give me an experience".

We'll see what she comes up with but whatever it is, it felt great not to want or need gadgets. Experiences is where I am at. And isn't that exactly what travel is all about?

Small groups

All of the land-based tour operators we deal with offer small-group tours. Groups are as small as 12 people (on Intrepid Premium Tours) and generally do not go over 16 people.

Because our groups are small you make more meaningful contacts with the people in your destination, and they with you. Small groups mean you have greater access to the places you visit, for a more personalised experience. And small groups don't have as much of an impact on a destination as large impersonal tour groups do.

Community-based tourism

All the tour companies we book you with engage in meaningful community-based travel. While you get insight into real people's lives and cultures, they in turn benefit from the jobs created and income generated. And beyond that, community-based tourism fosters understanding between people from different parts of the world who would normally never have met. That is sustainable travel right down to the core.

Flying - will you join the challenge?

By far a traveller's single largest source of carbon emissions comes from flights. Fly to Europe and you would be looking at 2 tonnes, or 10% of the average Canadians emissions. Fly to South Africa and you will have tripled those emissions.

I have struggled with this fact for years - on the one hand I have serious concerns about our future and as a father I want to leave the world a better place for my children. On the other hand, my business creates a lot of carbon emissions.

After offering clients carbon offsets** for many years with mixed results, I felt more needed to be done. So I started challenging travellers to add as little as 1% to their bill and invest this in carbon offsets. If they do this, I will match their contribution and use those funds to rewild the Niagara Escarpment. I do this by planting trees under the auspices of the Bruce Trail Conservancy. This is my One Percent for the Future Challenge, and it has been a great success. Already I have set aside enough funds to plant 1000 trees, a small forest!

Meanwhile on the ground, three tour operators set a good example.

Intrepid Travel

Green Friday Score: 9 out of 10

Leading the sustainable travel field is Australian operator Intrepid Travel. Their stated aim is to be the best travel company not just in the world, but for the world. And those aren't hollow words. They’ve been carbon-neutral since 2010, carbon offset all their trips, and are the first global tour operator with verifiable science-based targets to limit global warming to 1.5C in the next decade. They were also one of the first signatories to the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism

Intrepid has always been about balancing profit and purpose, and in 2018 they became the world’s largest travel B Corporation™.


Green Friday Score: 8 out of 10

Like all travel companies Explore recognizes that carbon offsetting is not ideal, but for the moment it is the best we have if we want to keep travelling. It is therefore that Explore offsets all the carbon emissions produced by the transport and accommodations they use.

Explore's parent company, Hotelplan, has become a signatory of the Glasgow Declaration.

In addition, Explore aims to be single-use plastic free.


Green Friday Score: 6.5 out of 10

While Exodus were one of the first travel companies to sign tthe Glasgow Declaration, they are lagging other companies with a commitment to only halve their carbon footprint by 2030.

But they have introduced an exciting project: to rewild 100 square metres per passenger. The process of “rewilding” helps to restore nature’s ecosystems and biodiversity, for wildlife to return and thrive, while also combatting climate change by increasing the land’s ability to absorb carbon.

I'd like to hear from you - is sustainable travel something that resonates with you?

** simply put, carbon offsets are an investment in energy saving projects which are known to counterbalance the amount of carbon our flights emit.


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