The term eco-tourism seems quaint in an era when travellers are concerned about everything from more sustainable hotels to supporting businesses with responsible environmental and cultural practices
Carbon offsets for air travel keep your conscience and your carbon footprint cleaner. Air Canada partners with Toronto-based Less Emissions, making it easy to tack the cost on to your flight purchase: $30-$40, for instance, for Vancouver-Toronto return. Organizations like Offsetters, based in Vancouver and Oregon, calculate the impact of driving or flying, and offer trip or by-the-tonne offsets. Swedish site Glooby combines low-cost flight searching with the virtues of the most fuel-efficient routes (English site priced in U.S. dollars)—because it’s better to reduce than to offset.
Does your hotel bargain come at a cost to the environment? Look for eco-labels like international Green Key, or the Audubon Society’s Green Lodging Program in the U.S.(which partners with the Book Different hotel search engine). Kelowna-based Green Tourism is a homegrown program that assesses and certifies hotels, tour companies and attractions, plus food and drink providers.
New small-group Impact Journeys, offered by sustainable travel veteran And Beyond, shows environmentally sensitive areas some luxe love. Spend a week in Phinda, South Africa, learning wildlife conservation monitoring techniques such as rhino notching and elephant collaring by day, and enjoying the perks of a butler and private chef in the evenings.Or go behind the scenes of marine conservation efforts by Oceans Without Borders, on the far northern coast of Mozambique.
The global Sustainable 100 list for 2018 has six Canadian entries, three of them in B.C.: Vancouver, the Great Bear Rainforest and the Thompson-Okanagan region.
AS A PRINCIPAL at Reshape Strategies, one of Canada’s top consultancies for urban energy and infrastructure, Trent Berry thinks a lot about responsible travel, “particularly since my work involves building more-sustainable cities.” The German speaking Vancouverite favours green cities like Berlin and Stockholm on extended working trips that he structures to minimize greenhouse gas emissions from air travel. For instance, last year Berry worked remotely for more than a month, combining a dozen project visits with a meeting in New York, two conferences in Europe and an extended stay in Germany—using just five flight segments. While away, he lives the same small-footprint lifestyle as he does at home. Site visits to sustainable energy and smart-city projects with his global colleagues offer benefits he could never achieve virtually. “There is no substitute for seeing projects first-hand, kicking the tires and talking with both operators and users on real outcomes,” says Berry, emphasizing that less-successful efforts provide as many insights as more-celebrated ones. “One-on-one, it’s amazing how much you can learn. These contacts area huge value to my work and creativity.”