OUR COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABILITY
We have an ongoing commitment to improving the sustainability of our operations – maximizing the environmental, economic and community impacts of our business.
The following sustainability policy outlines all the areas in which we are currently taking action. Within each section we have specified measurable goals, targets, and actions that we aim to undertake in order to further monitor, analyze and ensure our continual improvement.
1) Business model
To ensure proper documentation of our business, goals and policies we:
- Have a written mission statement and business goals.
- Have a written sustainability policy that provides the vision and framework for sustainability initiatives. We also have a 3-part sustainability criteria for anyone that we work with.
Goals and actions planned:
- Finalize 3-part sustainability rubric for all partner lodges. Rubric requires: 1) proper waste management systems; 2) the use of non-wood fuel sources; and 3) local ownership of lodge and property
- Have a written sustainability policy that provides the vision and framework for sustainability initiatives.
2) Communication with Guests
To encourage client understanding of sustainable tourism we:
- Provide a series of travel tips, which relates to their interaction with surrounding natural, cultural and protected areas.
- Communicate our steps towards sustainable tourism through marketing materials, onsite signage and web site.
- Systematically collect customer feedback and have a system for documenting the feedback (both positive and constructive).
3) Supply Chain Management
We outsource/subcontract the following aspects for most tours we run:
- Accommodation (each physically vetted with annual check ups against our sustainability criteria)
- Transport including arrival/departure transfers
To ensure maximum sustainability throughout our supply chain we:
- Know exactly who all suppliers are for all aspects of our tours
- Use locally owned, independent accommodation and suppliers (one of our main criteria)
- Work with suppliers to encourage and help improve the sustainability of their operations, set targets etc.
- Favor suppliers who have a responsible tourism/sustainability policy
- Check their policy to make sure it covers key environmental and social issues and actions in specific detail, and follow up to fill in any gaps
- Ask for evidence suppliers are adhering to their policy.
- Physically audit all suppliers to ensure they operate according to their policy.
The following policy applies to all other aspects of our business not outsourced, including offices:
4) Energy – Climate Management
To move towards zero carbon emissions we:
- Are part of a green shared work space. It has strict onsite waste reduction policies with a collection of other different socially based companies.
- Have a system to regularly monitor energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions, and set reduction targets.
- Provide guidelines to guests on how to save energy.
- Switch lights, appliances, computers etc. off at mains when not in use and never leave them on standby;
- Use natural light first where possible;
- Close windows when heating or cooling rooms; close curtains at night;
- Have draught-proofed all buildings.
- Have only energy saving light bulbs.
- Only boil water as required.
To minimize carbon emissions from travel and transport we:
- Manage all domestic transport;
- Encourage and provide useful information on overland journeys to destination. e.g. walking maps, cycle hire, local buses.
- Provide customers and staff with information on low impact transport options, and encourage their use.
- Encourage driving in a consistent, fuel-efficient manner, and combine tasks or car-pool.
- Utilize systems to enable video/audio/phone conferencing to avoid unnecessary travel.
- Do regular maintenance checks and tire pressure checks on our vehicles to ensure maximum efficiency.
- Design itineraries that minimize travel/transport required, and avoid internal flights.
- Seek most fuel-efficient or no emission vehicles, and vehicles produced with re-used/recycled components.
Goals and actions planned:
- Encourage flying direct and the use of airlines with the most efficient fleets.
To minimize water usage we:
- Have guidelines for guests on how to save water – do not leave taps running when brushing teeth; take showers not baths; don’t flush unnecessarily.
To carefully handle, reduce, re-use and recycle waste we:
- Accurately document the exact percentage of recyclables as a percentage of our total waste to landfill.
- Train staff to reduce, re-use and recycle waste.
- Compost organic and biodegradable waste.
- Recycle all waste glass, plastic, paper, and cartons.
- Make recycling facilities available to guests and provide information.
- Ensure sewage and other waste is disposed of in a responsible manner.
- Donate or recycle old IT equipment and refill printer cartridges.
- Run as a paper free operation: electronic communication, no brochures, double sided printing, reuse free sides of paper as draft or scrap pads.
- Seek less heavily packaged products, and choose recycled/recyclable or biodegradable packages over plastic packaging where possible. In particular;
- Won’t allow bottled water on trips,
- Avoid disposable or single use items eg. plastic cups, cutlery, disposable batteries;
- Buy in bulk as much as possible;
- Ensure any plastics we do buy are recyclable;
- Use plastic containers for food storage rather than cling film.
Goals and actions planned:
- Consideration of UV purification systems for on-trail water use
To support other ethical practices and local businesses we:
- Have a green purchasing policy. This includes:
- Use local suppliers and artisans wherever available.
- Reduce food/product miles by choosing local/regional products.
- Purchase toilet paper from recycled paper or FSC wood.
- Avoid buying products made from endangered plants or animals. Including hardwoods, corals, shells, starfish, ivory, fur, feathers, skins, horn, teeth, eggs, reptiles and turtles.
- Buy paper that has high post-consumer recycled content when necessary (not chlorine bleached).
- Prioritize use of suppliers with a shared focus on sustainable practice.
- Encourage and support sustainable practice among our suppliers.
- Use ethical banking and insurance companies.
- Source perishables from local organic suppliers so our menu is affected by the season.
- Prioritize use of natural cleaning products over chemical alternatives.
- Avoid palm oil products.
- Fair trade products are bought where available.
- Prioritize partnerships with lodges that use conversion and renovation, rather than new build.
- Design impact assessment reports.
9) Ecosystem Preservation
To be proactively involved in caring for the local environment we:
- Communicate with guests about appropriate behavior in the natural environment
- Train guides in appropriate behavior in natural areas and ensure adherence to them. Issues are explained to guests too. This includes:
- Carefully plan and prepare trips to ensure it meets skills and abilities of the group
- Avoid environmentally stressed areas on tours; visit in small groups; avoid times of high use.
- Stick to trails on tours;
- Keep all rubbish including toilet paper with us until it can be properly disposed of;
- Encourage collection of any extra litter seen around and arrange clean up days with local staff;
- Leave what you find, don’t take or purchase natural ‘souvenirs';
- Never approach, feed or touch wildlife or fragile organisms;
- Never wash anything with cleaning agents directly in river or lake water;
- Use biodegradable, phosphorous free cleaning agents on all trips;
- Encourage customers to wear biodegradable suntan lotion if the excursion involves swimming in rivers, waterfalls or the sea
- Have a no campfires policy on all trips;
- Financially support the management and protection of natural areas we visit and obey all local National Park guidelines.
- Provide cigarette ‘bins’ to customers when on activities.
- Support local environmental and conservation efforts. We are working with KEEP and a local group that also works to educate people about local environmental issues and we compensate them for this support.
10) Workplace Practices
To ensure our staff are some of the main beneficiaries of our business we:
- Exceed all local and international fair wage legislation. We provide local staff with company shares. We have a dual payment system for staff – both a daily wage determined by local unions with 25% above national base wage and based on experience and then profit shares on top.
- Exceed all local and international labour standards.
- Maintain up-to date environmental, health and safety, operational permits/licenses and approvals as required by law within the regions where we operate.
- Provide promotion possibilities to all staff.
- Provide on-going staff training.
- Provide regular staff consultation and feedback (on each trip cycle if possible)
- Ensure that there is on-site equipment and supplies to deal with medical emergencies. First aid training or trained personnel within the team.
- Provide correct and appropriate kit for the job.
- Enforce a 20kg limit for all porters.
11) Community Impact
To make sure we benefit the local economy and community as much as possible we:
- Establish good long-term relationships with locally owned suppliers, service providers and microfinance partners.
- Pay fair prices.
- Recommend local and ethical products and services to guests.
- Include local and ethical food stops/shops and other local establishments in any tours/excursions we run. Rotate which ones we use to spread economic benefits and use different places than other operators.
- Prioritize employment of local residents (including management positions).
- Provide year round employment and encourage long-term employment wherever possible.
- Are active in the local community and work in collaboration with them. We are aware of local issues and make sure our operations don’t jeopardize provision of services to the local community. In particular, our OneSeed fund helps small businesses belonging to local women and provides economic stimulation in areas that we work and the areas where we travel. We have a strong research base and all environmental based practices are built around real case scenarios.
- Actively support local initiatives for community development including education, health and sanitation.
- Document and measure our direct and indirect benefits to the local community.
- Invest 10% of total revenue to microfinance initiatives via the OneSeed Fund.
To respect and support local cultures we:
- Provide information to staff and guests on appropriate behavior pre-trip.
- Support traditional and grassroots cultural events but avoid commodified or forced tourism ‘shows’
- Promote and support destination stewardship amongst locals. We set expectations for lodge management amongst our suppliers. They are clear and transparent. We back this up with physical visits, pre-trip and during trips. In the event policies are not being met we would provide partners with extra support to meet the expectations or terminate the partnership.
- Support the protection of historical, spiritual and cultural sites, and don’t impede local access to them.
- Have a member of staff responsible for developing community relationships and maintaining social performance targets.