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Travel Foundation: sustainable tourism will soon be ‘the only way to do business’

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Ahead of the eighth Responsible Tourism in Destinations (RTD8) conference in Manchester next week, the Travel Foundation’s acting chief executive Salli Felton speaks to Blue & Green Tomorrow about how travel organisations can create lasting change.

At the event, which takes place April 3-5, Felton is taking part in a panel discussion on how to effectively respond to the issue of responsible destination management.

An environmental scientist by profession, she has spent 20 years implementing sustainable principles across a variety of industry sectors, both in Australia and the UK

What does the Travel Foundation do?

The Travel Foundation is an independent charity that works with the travel and tourism industry towards a sustainable future, both for the industry and holiday destinations. With our partners, we demonstrate new ways for travel organisations to work that protect the environment and create opportunities for local people in destinations.

What does sustainable tourism mean to you?

It means working collaboratively and thinking long-term in order to find a balanced way of doing business where the negative impacts are minimised, and the benefits are shared by the travel industry, destinations and customers.

What is wrong with mainstream (or unsustainable) tourism?

Mainstream tourism can be sustainable if managed well, just as specialist or independent tourism can be damaging for destinations if not managed well. It’s not always about size: for instance, one large hotel may have a lower overall impact on the environment than many smaller-sized ones combined. However, companies handling more customers have more opportunities to make an impact on a destination – so we like to work with them to ensure it’s a positive one.

What more could be done to make holidaymakers aware of their sustainability footprint when travelling?

It’s important to make it easy for holidaymakers to make sustainable choices. This can be done to some degree by integrating sustainable practices into business as usual but holidaymakers also need to be part of the solution. Giving them a helpful nudge with simple communications that provide positive actions they can act on goes a long way.

Is it contradictory to fly on a sustainable holiday?

Like many other industries, tourism can be carbon-intensive but at the same time it has the potential to provide a vital role in economic development. So when flying is the only realistic means to get to a destination, that destination needs to ask: does tourism compare favourably to other economic activities available to us? Have we maximised the socio-economic and environmental benefits? And those who fly their customers around the world must come together and find ways to minimise their impact on climate change.

How do you tell between the tour operators genuinely committed to sustainable tourism and the ones who see it as good for their reputation?

I don’t think it matters why tour operators engage in sustainable tourism as long as it results in better business practices and lasting change. For many it will be about reputation, and that’s fine so long as it isn’t greenwash. For others it might be about reducing costs, or engaging staff, or creating a competitive advantage. Not necessarily about caring for the destination, but the results can be the same – greener, more ethical holidays that benefit local people and protect the environment.

What do you see of the future of sustainable tourism?

A tourism industry working in genuine partnership with holiday destinations as the only way to do business.

For the full agenda at RTD8 and more information on how to attend this essential event, see here. Spaces are limited so book now to avoid disappointment.

Further reading:

Manchester to host Responsible Tourism in Destinations conference

Sustainable tourism is an instrument to ‘protect nature and alleviate poverty’

VisitEngland: sustainability ‘secures a successful future’ for tourism

Sustainable tourism: ‘going green’ doesn’t just mean a splash of colour

The Guide to Sustainable Tourism 2014

Environment

4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again

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reuse reduce recycle plastic bottles etc
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Vanatchanan | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/vanatchanan%20buahom

As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.

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Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.

Jars and Containers

Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.

Soda Bottles

An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.

Plastic Bags

Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!

Seeds

If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!

Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!

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Environment

These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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