“Eco” and “Green” are confusing terms these days. To us, being “eco” means educating our guests, contributing to the community, offsetting our impact, and leaving the environment a bit better because of our trips, not despite them.
How do you know your tour company is acting responsibly and promoting sustainable travel? Ask the following questions:
- Do you participate in carbon offsetting?
- How do you minimise your impact?
- What is your company’s contribution to conservation efforts?
- Do you support any projects to benefit local communities in which you travel?
- What percentage of your employees are locals?
- How much trip time is spent driving or flying?
- Do you have a Responsible Tourism Policy?
Here are Small World Journeys’ answers:
1. Carbon-Neutral Company
We are proud to say that we are a carbon-neutral company–a rarity for a tour operator. Small World Journeys pays to offset the carbon emissions that result from all of our office activities and our trips. Through Sustainable Travel International (STI), our emissions are calculated and offset by our financial support of sustainability projects around the world. Some of those projects include an amazing project in Cambodia to help communities get clean drinking water without burning wood to boil it. We also give our groups the opportunity to offset their air travel with our online Carbon Calculator. In 2014, we offset 51.4921 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions!
2. Re-planting the Rainforest
Thanks to our partner, Rainforest Rescue, a 5 square metre plot of Daintree Rainforest is adopted in our guests’ names. This helps to preserve areas of the rainforest that have been damaged. Since 2008 we have have protected more than 500m2 of rainforest! Each group receives a certificate to take home, which explains why it is such a special gift to the rainforest. On educational excursions, students even have the opportunity to do plant native trees in riparian zones. For more information about Rainforest Rescue and our donations, see Philanthropy and Partnerships.
3. Keeping Distances Short - We're Not a "Coach" Company
A Small World Journey is about getting to know a place intimately. This is why we don’t spend hours in a bus. We have time to dig deep into a destination, and spend our time outdoors enjoying ourselves. This also means minimising our need for fuel and contributing to a healthier planet.
4. Keeping the Tourist Dollar Local
We use locally-owned accommodation whenever possible along with restaurants, suppliers and local guides to keep income in the community. We also buy our produce from local farmers. This support is crucial to keeping the tourist dollar circulating in locally, which benefits the community as a whole.
5. Promoting Aboriginal Culture
Essential to our journeys is the perspective of Australia’s indigenous peoples. On most of our trips, groups learn about the traditions of the Kuku Yalanji, Tjapukai, Yidinji, Ngadjon jii and Jirrbal people through local aboriginal guides. On our educational excursions, students can spend several days learning with an aboriginal family or in an indigenous community. We also encourage our guests to purchase locally-made indigenous crafts and art as souvenirs as well. Click on the link for information about our trips that involve Aboriginal culture.
6. We Educate
Sustainability begins with education. Our trips are soaked in learning opportunities! Participants on our excursions receive at least one field guide (Sydney city trips excepted) that teaches them about local flora or fauna. For domestic school groups, we have designed lesson plans to synch in with the national curriculum so our trip is an extension of what students are learning in the classroom.
Our guides have a strong background in the natural sciences, and stay up-to-date on current environmental and cultural issues, helping our guests to more deeply know their destination. They teach not only about local flora, fauna and natural history, but about the subtleties of culture, etiquette, and language in Australia.
7. 5% of Profits Go To Community Groups
We have committed at least 5% of our net profits each year to support non-profit environmental conservation organisations. We supply our guests with detailed information about the non-profit organisations to whom we give, so guests may also offer their support if they choose. In 2013 we made financial donations to Rainforest Rescue to help save the Daintree Rainforest, Kuranda Envirocare and to The Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. In addition, we give to Harald’s House, a Cairns-based charity helping homeless and disadvantaged youth.
8. Limited Paper Usage, Recycling and Composting
We endeavour to be as paper free as possible in our operations. Therefore, we made a conscious decision not to produce a multi-page brochure to advertise our trips. Although people often like to “hold something in their hands”, we believe that our guests will understand and support our decision not to do so. In addition, our correspondence is sent electronically, unless guests specifically request otherwise. We also reuse our paper, recycle, and at our office we compost our organic material. For more information on our responsible tourism policies, see Responsible Travel.
9.Bags and Bottles to Our Guests
As a guest on a Small World Journeys educational tour, you receive a cloth shopping bag and a reusable water bottle. This gives you the opportunity to decline a plastic bag at the souvenir shop and use your own – which helps keep plastic bags from ending up in landfills, our oceans, and in the tummies of turtles. Similarly, your own water bottle avoids having to purchase plastic bottles that crowd landfills each year. Because of this practise, we estimate that since 2010 we have saved over 3,000 plastic water bottles and 5,000 plastic bags from going in landfills.
10. Local Knowledge
There is no substitute for local knowledge, and no better way to support the community than by creating jobs for local people. Your trip is shaped and guided by people who know, love, and live in Cairns and Sydney. We offer our groups 24-hour in-country emergency support, so you can take comfort in the fact that we are always here to help.