G Adventures Wants To Know How You Want To Change The World

Adventure travel company G Adventures is well known for its grassroots and sustainable approach to travel. Working closely with local guides, the company offers unique and affordable trips to nearly every corner of the globe, while still delivering authentic travel experiences that respect the health of the planet and the people that live on it. Now, they’re taking that philosophy one step further by launching the G Project, an initiative that invites us to share our ideas on how we might be able to change the world, while giving us an opportunity to do just that.

The concept behind the G Project is simple. G Adventures and its non-profit Planeterra Foundation are seeking submittals for ideas that could have a positive impact on our planet. They could be something simple and small, but still meaningful, or it could be grandiose and far-reaching. What ever it is, they want to hear about it, so if you have such an idea that you’ve been dying to share, be sure to visit the G Project website and fill out the online application.

Submissions are being accepted in the categories of Community, Freedom, Beauty and Knowledge between now and June 3. Each of the proposals will be showcased online, where they’ll be able to garner attention from others who can rally behind the ideas that they feel are the most relevant and viable. On June 4, the top 16 contenders will be posted on the G Project website and sent to an esteemed panel of judges for further review. That panel includes the likes of conservationist Jane Goodall, survival expert Les Stroud and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis, amongst others.
On June 24, the judges will narrow the field down to just four finalists, who will be invited to attend the first ever Summit in the Jungle in Costa Rica. Once there, they’ll get the opportunity to pitch their ideas directly with the hopes of claiming the top prize – $25,000 and a chance to actually bring their dream to life.

It isn’t often that we’re given the opportunity to have a positive and lasting impact on the planet, but the G Project is going to give someone that chance. It should be interesting to see what creative ideas come out of this project and just how big of a change it can make.

[Photo Credit: G Adventures]

Sustainable Travel Agents Make Impact, Educate

Sustainable travel aims to yield a net beneficial gain, or render at least neutral, every aspect of the travel process. When rating elements of a travel plan, from booking flights online to hotel operational policies, everything is considered. At one time, sustainable travel was the domain of tree-hugging environmentalists, out to get travel suppliers. Now, Earth-friendly travel agents are making it their mission to educate consumers.

Andrea Dixon and Lindsay Batchelar founded Green Motion Travel in 2010, making sustainable tourism the prime focus of their Canadian travel agency. Batchelar, an experienced travel consultant, and Dixon, with a masters in Tourism, were frustrated that the research on sustainability never trickled down to consumers.

“A big part of Green Motion’s work is providing information about options available for travel choices,” Batchelar told Travel Market Report.

The two met five years ago when their sons entered kindergarten together. Initially, Green Motion Travel devoted resources to educating potential clients about key sustainability concepts. Explaining how those concepts could be applied to the travel experience, Green Motion circulated handouts with titles like “What to Ask Before You Book,” and “Sustainable Tourism While You Travel.”

They also sent questionnaires to travel suppliers and ranked them according to each supplier’s commitment to sustainable tourism. The results yielded a relationship with hotels, tour operators and other service providers eager to offer green travel options.

“It took a long time to find out which companies are committed to sustainability. So many are trying to be environmentally friendly and want to promote their effort, which is great,” said Dixon.Now with more than double the manpower, Green Motion Travel’s mission continues to educate and promote their website. There, visitors can easily make transportation choices that suit their evolving needs and criteria.

So what is trending in the sustainable tourism world?

“We are seeing a growing number of our clients choose rail over flying when the option is presented by us. In Canada, our rail network is decent in the Ottawa-Toronto-Montreal corridor. It is these types of trips that are hardest on the environment when flying, so every convert to rail – which also avoids airline security hassles – is a benefit,” said Dixon.

“Tourism can never be neutral,” says the Green Motion Travel website. “It will always have an impact but the key is to try and make the impact as positive as possible.”

[Flickr photo by The Brit_2]

Infographic: The Future Of Hotels Is Green

It was only a matter of time before someone made a snazzy infographic on the wastefulness of the hotel industry. This one comes from blog Hotel.info, with information sourced from the U.S. Green Building Council, American Hotel & Lodging Association, NFL, U.S. Energy Information Association, Energy Star, Environmental Protection Agency, Siemens and Forbes.com.

The graphic features plenty of interesting information nuggets and analogies, like:

  • Hotels create 1.9 billion pounds of waste each year, enough to fill 37 million suitcases.
  • They also use 84.7 billion kwh of energy per year, enough to power 64.5 million television sets.
  • If one person took a shower non-stop for 277 years, it would be equivalent to the amount of water used by hotels each year.
  • Hotels also produce 60 million tons of CO2 per year, equivalent to that generated by 10.6 million cars and 12 coal-fired power plants.

Shocking, eh? For a look at what would happen if both hotels and guests adopted greener policies, click on “Read More” for the full graphic.

[via Hotel.info]

Travelers Want To Be More Eco-Friendly, Says TripAdvisor Survey, But Hotels Need To Do More

According to a new survey from TripAdvisor, 71 percent of travelers say they plan to make more “eco-friendly” travel decisions in the next 12 months, compared to 65 percent in the past 12 months. But with varying opinions on what constitutes eco-friendly anything these days, what does that mean?

As per the release, the top “eco-friendly” efforts practiced by individuals participating in the survey are as follows:

  • 88 percent turn off lights when leaving their hotel room
  • 80 percent participate in their hotel’s linen or towel re-use program
  • 57 percent use recycling in the hotel

From the data, it looks like most of the travelers surveyed avail of small opportunities to make eco-friendly decisions when the opportunities are presented to them, usually in their hotels. But what opportunities are the hotels offering?

  • 58 percent offer linen or towel re-use programs
  • 37 percent have an adjustable thermostat in the room
  • 32 percent offer water-efficient low-flow toilets and showerheads

They are small moves, but compared to what hotels could be doing, they don’t amount to very much. To boot, 60 percent of travelers say they rarely feel informed about whether hotels are truly eco-friendly or just claiming to be. It seems to fall, then, on hotels and tourism operators to truly incorporate greener practices, publicize them and offer ways for guests to get on board. It seems that many travelers want to be more eco-friendly – they just need that extra push when they’re in vacation mode.

[Flickr image via cogdogblog]

Travel Smarter 2012: New approaches to sustainable travel

When most people think of ecotourism, they imagine off-grid rainforest lodges and volunteer work in impoverished communities.

While those can certainly be great experiences, they’re not the only way to travel sustainably. These days, the definition of ecotourism has broadened, and travelers are embracing a new consciousness around the way we travel, how we interact with places, and what kind of impact our visit has on our surroundings. The best thing is, this new type of conscious travel doesn’t have to be restrictive. In fact, it often leads to much more meaningful experiences. Consider the following approaches as a starting point.Slow down
Taking inspiration from the slow food and slow fashion movements, “slow travel” has evolved as a backlash to the manic pace that traditionally accompanies air travel and mile-a-minute sightseeing vacations. Slow travelers cherish the journey as much as the destination. They’ll choose leisurely modes of transport like trains, bicycles, and barges; stay in long-term vacation rentals instead of hotels; and structure itineraries that allow enough time to savor experiences. Not only is the slow travel mindset easier on the environment because it cuts out unsustainable forms of transport, but it can also be cost-effective since the emphasis is on quality of experiences rather than quantity. For resources on planning a slow travel vacation, check out the SlowTrav.com community.

Get local
Many travelers are tired of following the tourist path, preferring instead to experience new places as locals. Enter, the “local travel” movement, which focuses on connecting with local people, being sensitive to the local environment, respecting local culture and heritage, and spending money locally. The popularity of the local travel movement is evident in the explosive growth of home-stay listing service Airbnb, which experienced 500 percent growth in the last year and recently announced its 5 millionth night booked. Another website that can help facilitate local experiences is GuideHop, which allows city residents to host and post their own custom tours. Recent listings included a tour of Austin‘s urban farms and a bike ride along the San Francisco waterfront.

“Voluntour” smarter
The practice of voluntourism — which combines travel with volunteer work — has grown more and more popular in recent years. At the same time, it’s also become more and more controversial. Critics say that voluntourism often hurts communities more than it helps them, and that tourists who pay thousands of dollars to paint a school in a developing country are better off donating that money to a non-profit that can handle the task more effectively. Valid points — but the truth is volunteer travel can also be a tremendously positive and transformative experience, both for the individual and the community, when done smartly. New certification programs are in the works from groups like UK non-profit Tourism Concern, but nothing really beats personal research. Rather than limit yourself to the top Google search results for “volunteer abroad,” use your social networks to find friends who live or have lived in your target destination and ask them about well-respected organizations. In the U.S., you can also use Charity Navigator to see how non-profit groups stack up against each other.

Though ecotourism and sustainable travel can take on many forms, the first step to more conscious travel is awareness. Once you take care to explore the world while being kind to it, the rest will come naturally.

[flickr image via Stefano Lubiana Wines]