A few months back I popped over to Rick Steves’ page on Facebook to see what he had going on. We all know that Rick Steves is the godfather of travel, do we not? (We do). It goes without saying then, that when I spied his new post entitled “Our Climate Smart Commitment,” I had to read on.
You can read it here, but here’s the gist:
Travel is wonderful, awe-inspiring and (I would argue) necessary. Travel is also harmful to the environment.
We cannot, as responsible travelers, ignore the fact that the flights we take emit carbon dioxide into our earth’s atmosphere at alarming rates.
But there is something we can do.
Rick Steves is contributing $1 million in 2019 (breaking down to $30 per traveler in his guided tours) to projects in the Global South that fund “a diverse portfolio of climate-smart organizations that work to advocate for smart policies and laws, conserve biodiverse lands, support small farms, and develop climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices.” (Quotation taken from this post.)
I found it interesting that Rick Steves simply hadn’t chosen to pay airlines a fee to offset the carbon emissions produced by each traveler. That would make sense, right? Turns out, not so much.
Travelers, I’ve been doing a bit of digging (post Rick Steves-inspirational research!) and what follows is what I found out about carbon neutrality, and why Whisked Away will be doing something about it too.
What Happens When We Fly
When we fly, airplanes emit a crap ton (scientifically speaking) of greenhouse gases, especially at take off & departure. The amount is way more than our cars emit, and even if you fly only once per year, it is still probably the biggest negative impact you are making to the planet out of everything else you do.
Got that? Flying is kind of the worst.
Currently, there is no other alternatives to flying. (Come on, teleportation!)
Here’s what I mean- when you purchase a car, you have an option. You can buy a Hummer (ahem blegh cough gross) that guzzles gas & stomps on puppies, or you could buy a Prius or even a Tesla!
You also have the option to buy organic, locally-sourced food. You can choose to install solar panels on your house. Your clothes can be fair trade certified.
You can vote with your money to harm the environment a bit less.
For most things? We have a choice. When we fly, we don’t. There is no hybrid flight option. (Yet!)
So, it seems we have two options when it comes to air travel:
Keep flying, but do something to offset these emissions.
Let me be clear: I’m not about to tell you that choice #1 isn’t right. It may be the absolute right thing for you- to hang up your carry-on and declare that your traveling days are behind you. It certainly would be better for the planet, and she’s in trouble friends.
But let me also say this: if you’ve ever strolled cobblestone streets in a foreign country, felt the breeze on your face on a far-off shore, listened in on a convo in another language at an outdoor cafe… well, option #1 may not be an option for you.
It certainly isn’t for me.
At Whisked Away we believe that travel opens hearts & minds and that it is truly one of the most beneficial things we can do for ourselves (and others) in the grand scheme of things.
Life is just better when you can step outside of your comfort zone, when you have to communicate with smiles and charades instead of words, and yes- when you step off the plane & get gobsmacked in the face with adventure.
So Here’s What Whisked Away is Doing About It
Ever heard of reinventing the wheel? Not when it is a Rick Steves’ wheel! (Does that saying work here? Feels right. Going with it…)
Rick Steves and his cadre of climate change-ologists are committing $1 million this year to projects in the southern hemisphere designed to improve the lives of folks living there AND make less of an impact on the planet.
For every trip booked, Whisked Away has always (almost since the beginning!) taken a portion of our profits & made a Kiva microloan to a woman in a developing country. Why? Because we understand that when women are lifted out of poverty, the impact will be felt in their families & the broader community.
We will continue to do this.
But here’s what we are adding- every loan that we make through Kiva on behalf of you will also be eco-friendly, like this one we recently made on behalf of Danielle & Tim:
Bada-bing, bada-boom. That sanitary toilet is going to be wayyyyy better than what could’ve been entering streams + groundwater near Priciosa’s home. Better for her, better for her family, better for us. #weareallconnected
Our Future Goals for Carbon Neutrality
Goals are best when spoken aloud. So here are ours!
As Whisked Away grows, we will:
Ensure carbon neutrality through climate positive projects around the world.
Continue to support women in developing nations through loans, not donations.
Move toward a climate positive model.