<a href="http://www.gmagazine.com.au/blog/17#">Eco Travel</a>

Eco Travel

On the path to responsible travel, with Louise Southerden.

Green sleeves

New Zealand Alps

Tramping, as the Kiwis call it, in Mt Cook National Park, New Zealand's South Island

Credit: Louise Southerden

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Last week I heard some good news: an adventure tour operator has just launched a new program of carbon-neutral tours.

Following on from offsetting flights, it seems, there’s a whole new dimension in travel offsets opening up: offsetting entire trips – air travel, ground travel, waste products, and all.

On 18 October, Intrepid launched 38 Carbon Offset Trips after doing a survey of over 900 travellers all over the globe about their attitudes to climate change and travel.

More than 78 per cent of travellers said they would pay $US1 per day to offset the carbon emissions from the ground travel component of their trips with Intrepid.

In response, Intrepid has calculated the most significant carbon emissions sources from 38 trips across its product range – including carbon emissions from ground transport, accommodation and waste – and has, where possible, made changes to itineraries to reduce and minimise emissions.

Its planning to monitor these new carbon offset trips throughout 2009 and potentially offset all its trips, and become carbon neutral, by 2010.

Some of Intrepid’s suppliers in various countries have also started following suit; for example, hotels are now introducing "water coolers" in hotel lobbies so that guests can refill their own water bottles instead of buying bottled water.

Of course there are other operators doing their bit to make the world of travel a greener place. One other notable company isAdventure South, which runs the 8-day trek in New Zealand’s spectacular Southern Alps featured in the September issue of G Magazine.

As well as operating low-impact walking and cycling trips throughout New Zealand, a country that aspires to be “carbon neutral” by 2020, Adventure South has long been an environmental trailblazer.

  • In 2001 it was the first NZ tour company to subscribe to forestry carbon credit program Carbon Offset EBEX21, in 2003 it was the first NZ company to be certified by Green Globe, and it is the only tourism operator to be certified by CarboNZero.
  • Adventure South actively reduces its greenhouse emissions through sustainability practices such as: staff walking or riding to work, recycling and minimising energy use in the Christchurch depot and on tour, and improving the fuel efficiency of its vehicles through regular maintenance, driver education for guides and modernising the fleet. All vehicles have been rated by Vehicle Testing NZ for fuel emissions with the target being a three-star grading equivalent to Europe 3.
  • On every tour, Adventure South’s eco-aware guides recycle and compost waste, provide refillable water bottles for clients, discourage the purchase of bottled water, and buy local, organic food wherever possible.
  • Adventure South also pays to take clients onto Department of Conservation land (DOC is the NZ equivalent of the NPWS or Parks Victoria), which contributes to the upkeep of huts, walkways, etc.

For my part, I’m glad companies like Intrepid, Adventure South, and many others such as World Expeditions and Peregrine Adventures, are doing their bit to help us travel more greenly.