Happy Earth Day! Here at Follow The Camino, every day is Earth day. We have been introducing sustainability into every part of our business for many years. Sustainable and responsible travel is better for everyone. It is better for us as a business and for you as clients. It is also better for our suppliers across the world, and for the people most at risk from climate change.
We believe that travel builds understanding, well-being, and a wider awareness of the world. We also know it has a big carbon footprint. That is why we are constantly looking at how we do things and what we can change. We keep an eye on the latest research on climate-friendly eco-travel to find the best of both worlds.
Greening Our Business
Our holidays are more sustainable, but so is the way we operate in the office and as a business. We have a small team of Camino experts and eco-travel lovers who work hard to deliver fantastic trips to clients from all over the world.
Our offices are in a beautiful old building in Dublin. We share our space with other businesses to avoid having any avoidable empty space in this busy city. We try to be eco-friendly in our office and do our best to promote sustainability to our whole team.
Our offices are accessible by bike and by public transport. We support employees in taking advantage of public transport discounts to encourage them to use this option where possible.
We support remote working, with our employees being able to work from anywhere. That means that they can avoid the commute completely if they want to. It’s also good for employee work-life balance, giving everyone the flexibility to work from anywhere they need to be. It allows them to be close to whatever matters most to them.
When we need to travel to training walks, conferences, and expos we try to travel in a green way. We carpool and take public transport when possible.
Our offices are only heated when they need to be. We turn off all our lights and devices when we leave the office each night to save energy. Our main plugs have timers on them to make sure things are turned off at the wall during out of office time. Our internal servers also power down overnight so that they don’t use power unnecessarily.
We only have the minimum number of appliances in the office. What we do have we try to rent, or get second-hand and keep for as long as we can.
All of our laptops are upgraded every 5 to 7 years with new parts and new software. Updating our old laptops means that only some parts are replaced rather than the whole thing. If we do need to replace devices we look for second-hand options and refurbished technology where possible.
We have moved a lot of our old physical documents online, such as our walking notes and our booking process. Our bookings are paper-free! We are working with our providers to make their pieces of the trip paper-free too. It all helps to make your travel more sustainable.
We know that “stuff” is often part of a travel experience. It may be the plastic folder with your printed flight tickets or a single-use shampoo bottle in a hotel room. However, each of these travel things has a carbon footprint.
That is why we are trimming down what we send out, and digitising what we can. Of course, we still aim to provide a beautiful and accessible travel experience.
When you book your Camino with Follow the Camino we send you a holiday pack. This contains the physical things you’ll need for your trip, like your pilgrim’s passport and your scallop shell. It does also contain a few “goodies”, but we aim to ensure that they are useful and will add value rather than just being pretty.
We have made sure that our boxes are recyclable cardboard, that they aren’t too big. They are also packaged with compostable paper straw instead of plastic foam pellets.
Eco-travel Means Healthy Communities
Another way that we contribute to sustainability in a wider sense is by partnering with smaller and independent businesses. Rather than working with massive international companies, we look for family-run hotels and owner-manager guesthouses on the Camino. Small businesses and independent entrepreneurs are making the biggest impact in reducing the carbon footprint of the business.
Not only are these smaller businesses bursting with character, but they are also usually better for the towns and villages that they are in. They provide jobs for local people and put their incomes back into the Camino communities. Many of our suppliers will also have connections with local restaurants and cafes in the area, and even with farmers and winemakers. This interconnectedness helps small businesses to support the local economy.
We help to make sure that these businesses thrive by giving them fair prices and not aggressively negotiating prices down or taking huge commissions like many booking websites do. Rather, we focus on making sure that they provide an excellent service for our clients.
Carbon Offsetting for a Sustainable Travel Industry
While we acknowledge that there are some problems that have not yet been solved with carbon offsetting, we choose to offset all of the carbon of trips that are taken with us. As there is not yet a better option, we choose to do this in addition to our reduction activities. It is not a perfect system for sustainable travel, but it is better than doing nothing.
Our booking system has a carbon calculator built-in. Every bag transfer kilometer, every stay in a hotel, and every included breakfast is assigned a carbon value. Once the trip has happened, we take the total carbon footprint of your trip and offset it.
We support United Nations-backed carbon offsetting programmes around the world, as well as projects in Ireland. For example, in 2018 we supported a project in Kenya to offset 700 tonnes of CO2 by providing efficient cooking stoves to impoverished communities.
The Eco-Travel Journey Never Ends
We are always looking for new ways to avoid wasting resources. If you have an idea on how we could improve our sustainable travel practices – please let us know!
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Embrace a new adventure and reconnect with yourself.
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Originally published on 22nd April 2021