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Sustainable Travel

At EarthTreks we endeavour to be sustainable in all that we do. We support local economies, run eco-friendly trips that teach conservation and offer authentic cultural experiences, and we offset the carbon footprint of all of our customers’ and staff’s international air travel. We do everything to respect the communities we visit, and have a positive impact by supporting only locally-owned businesses.

Travel allows us to get up close to some of the world’s most amazing natural gems and beautiful cultures. It has the power to transform us as individuals, as well as the places that we visit and the people who live there. If we travel sustainably, that impact can actually be a very good one, rather than a negative impact.

Please click on the headings below to expand any area you would like to know more about:

 

EarthTreks’ Sustainable Travel Policy

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We Plant Trees - One of the Keys to Curbing Climate Change

In 2013, EarthTreks formed a three-way partnership on the development of a reforestation project on what was formerly pasture land – a large chunk of land that had been cut down decades before to raise cattle – that constitutes a very important corridor for migratory birds and habitat for flora and fauna (including a long list of endemic species), as part of what is now recognized as a highly delicate, megadiverse (2018) Choco Corridor, just a few kilometers from the actual Equator line. Along with the local environmental organization, Puntos Verdes, and German climate change organization, KEK, EarthTreks partnered to plan over 13,500 trees over the span of four years. Those trees continue to be carefully monitored semi-annually by a team of scientists from Germany. We also offer the ability for EarthTrekkers to plant a tree or two as part of ur reforestation project. Most recently, in early 2022, we will begin working on a new reforestation project that will be a forward-thinking project to allow sustainable building, called a “carpenters’ forest”.

We Offset all of our All Clients' and Staff's International Flights

Taking the advice of an excellent and reputable Canadian environmental organization, the David Suzuki Foundation, we chose Less Emissions as the carbon offset provider for all of our trips since our inception. We have been voluntarily offsetting 100% of the air travel associated with our trips ever since. Derived from international projects meeting the Gold Standard Foundation’s sustainable development criteria, as well as the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism protocols. Less Emission’s offsets are endorsed by leading environmental groups, including WWF International.

We Adhere to Strong Conservation Values and Practices Across All We Do

It is essential that we protect and conserve our planet’s most vulnerable destinations by changing the way that we travel. As one of our main specialties is visiting particularly delicate ecosystems, such as the Amazon rainforest and the Galapagos islands, we pay extra attention to how careful we are – in the planning stages by preparing our clients about what to bring and pack, to how to act correctly when actually there.

 

We strive to be as sustainable as possible every step of the way when traveling in other countries. In fact when it comes to the trips we offer, we go beyond sustainable tourism and are now striving to make all of our travel lead to positive impact travel. We use local transportation when possible, and when not, we use locally owned transportation that is well maintained and fuel-efficient.

 

We encourage Earthtrekkers to minimize their waste and water usage, always providing the means by which to fill their water bottles along the way for free. We only eat at locally owned restaurants, and ideally ones that use locally grown produce. We shop at local markets for locally-produced items, and encourage our travelers to be as respectful as possible in their purchasing methods. We always obey all rules in place for visitors, such as in parks and waterways. We stick to paths that already exist, to not contribute to damaging nature, and ask our travelers to be particularly cautious when visiting extra sensitive natural systems, such as in the Amazon basin or when snorkeling in the Galapagos.

We Respect and Empower the Local Cultures We Visit

Sustainable travel is not only about protecting nature, but also protecting, respecting, and giving back to all of the communities we visit. We want we want to empower communities to celebrate their culture, as well as to help improve their economies.

 

We help EarthTrekkers to carefully respect the different cultures they visit, including their various traditions, religions, customs, and other ways. We strongly encourage interaction with the local people in all areas we visit, and even try to teach some local language before and during every trip, to enhance that possibility. It enhances the experience for everyone. We also speak to our travelers about appropriate photography, and dress standards (particularly when visiting religious sites that have a specific dress code), and we carefully portray destinations and people fairly and respectfully in all of the marketing materials we produce and otherwise.

 

Tourism plays a tremendous role in the economy of the communities we visit, and through our trips, we try to maximize the benefits for them by employing only local people, featuring only local suppliers and service providers, and encouraging our travelers to do the same – supporting the local economy every step of the way. We also pay relevant taxes and do not engage in any form of illegal, corrupt or fraudulent activities along the way.

Our Suppliers Are All B Corp Certified and Carbon Neutral

The cornerstone of running EarthTreks’ trips and retreats sustainably is through our suppliers. All of our suppliers have committed to following a strict list of protocols to ensure our travel offerings are all sustainable. Our suppliers are all B Corp certified and carbon neutral. Together we offer a form of tourism that has a positive impact on the communities that we visit on all of our trips as well as the retreats that we host in the fragile ecosystem in the mega diverse region of Mindo, which we lovingly referred to as our southern office.

We Protect Vulnerable People and Animals

We are sure not only to always observe basic human rights, but to go further than that, and ensure we promote among our suppliers, guides and travelers alike the right to be treated with dignity, equality, and respect. When possible, we support local cooperatives and other initiatives that are led by women and minorities, we ensure we do not take part in anything that could be interpreted as discriminatory in any way. We never employ children. We do not use suppliers that allow children to perform work that is illegal or immoral. We do not visit orphanages as part of any trip. As it relates to animals, we strongly oppose any exploitative or illegal practices that have a negative impact on animal welfare in any way.

We Run Our Business Operations Sustainably

EarthTreks strives to be sustainable in all of our business practices, from using local supply chains and Bullfrog powering our business operations in Canada, to implementing conservation initiatives through the energy we use, by reducing waste (particularly plastic and paper waste), and implementing water saving initiatives.

We Support and Partner with Organizations Working Towards Conservation and Sustainability

Over decades, we have developed many strong partnerships with organizations and projects in Canada and Ecuador, whose central mandate is conservation and/or sustainability.  This may be expressed in the form of fiscal support for organizations supporting conservation or in the form of volunteer work and leadership. Please GET IN TOUCH if you would like to know more about this topic or anything else above. Listing all that we do and have done might otherwise be interpreted wrongly. The reason we do it is to put things right, with people, places and the planet.

Some Tips to Travel More Sustainably

You'll enjoy your trip that much more, hands down...

The coronavirus pandemic forced us to be more considerate of our planet in many ways. As we look to all be more socially and environmentally responsible in the way that we travel the world, here are some tips to get you started:

  • Plan longer vacations instead of shorter ones, as this will help take the pressure off yourself as well as the environment as every flight and car trip releases carbon emissions. As good as it is to offset your carbon footprint, avoiding more is always better.
  • Rather than rushing around, consider just visiting one or two locations and spending more time. This will allow you to get to know the culture and the location better
  • It is always better to use public transportation over private, as possible, and afe. You can also choose to walk, cycle, or choose a train over a plane. We try to accommodate these choices within all of our itineraries.
  • Try to conserve water and electricity at all times. All of our hotels and other accommodations work towards doing this, as well as avoiding waste and recycling when necessary, for example by taking your own water bottle and refilling it throughout your trip. You need to be a part of the solution by trying to conserve water and electricity as well.
  • Always choose locally owned restaurants and accommodations. Large hotels consume much more water and electricity and they do not contribute back to the local economy. All of our accommodations and restaurants are always locally owned, without exception.
  • Travel off-season, not only will you avoid crowds, but you will also help to lessen the strain on destinations that are more popular during busier months, typically June to August being the worst.
  • Support local shops and neighbourhood markets and independent retailers when you’re doing your souvenir shopping. Try to get to know local artisans. What your purchase will be so much more valuable that way.
  • Advocate for sustainable tourism regardless of who you were travelling with. Try to make the most responsible choices throughout your trip that you can.
  • Learn a bit of the language before you travel anywhere. It will allow you to get to know the people better in the places that you’re visiting. Learn a bit of the culture and history as well. Not only will you enjoy your trip more, but you will demonstrate a greater understanding as well as respect of the people you are visiting.
  • Always buy local. In every way.
  • Leave no trace behind – as they say: take only photographs and leave only foot prints.
  • Reduce your waist and recycle whenever possible.
  • Be sure never to exploit any kind of animals, whether that is visiting them at a zoo, your food choices, or any other kind of practises that are inhumane or otherwise. Choosing plant-based options is easier on the environment and often safer when traveling.
  • There is a moral obligation to treating communities, animals and the environment with respect – wherever you go.
  • Positive impact travel goes beyond minimizing a negative impact but actually looks to have a positive impact on the communities and environments that you visit.
  • Go to locations that are more off the beaten track. Not only will you be supporting economies that could use more tourism dollars flowing in, but you will also probably have more fun and a less touristy spot.
  • Choosing sustainable accommodations is key. The big hotels are some of the worst impacts on the tourism industry with their little disposable bottles, freezing cold rooms, washing our bedding and towels every day, and lots of other waste. In particular, avoid international chain hotels, and always opt for locally owned businesses. You can also do some research on eco-friendly accommodations through a variety of different websites. Or let us do that for you.
  • Pack for sustainable travel. One of the most sustainable ways to pack is by packing light. If you can fit it all in your carry-on, it will make your trip easier as well. Try to pack zero waste travel items such as reusable bags and bottles, to reduce your waste while traveling.
  • Try to eat local and seasonal. This is harder to manage when you’re traveling, but EarthTreks tries to do that for you by sourcing out restaurants that do just that.
  • Promote sustainable tourism to your friends. Travelling sustainably shouldn’t end once you get home. Let other people know about how you had a positive impact on the communities that you visited both socially and environmentally. How your trip was so much better and your Conscience cleaner when you got home allowing you to enjoy your photos and memories that much more.

 

Get in touch if you would like more tips or if you have anything to add to this list.