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?
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.
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.