10 Ways We’re “Sustainable”

Our goal is to leave our community better because we exist, not despite it.

“Sustainable” is a confusing term these days. To us, being “sustainable” means educating our guests, contributing to the community, offsetting our impact, and leaving the environment a bit better.  Sustainability also 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 sync in with the national curriculum so our trip is an extension of what students are learning in the classroom.

 You as a customer can compare our sustainability credentials to other companies. There is always more we can do, but here is what we’re proud of:

1. We Use Renewable Energy

1. We Use Renewable Energy

Our office is completely solar powered! By using renewable energy, we are doing our part to reduce our reliance of fossil fuels.  We are proud to say that we are also the first tour operator in Queensland to earn an EcoBiz star partnership with Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ). CCIQ EcoBizness Awards Logo

2. Voluntary Carbon Offsetting

2. Voluntary Carbon Offsetting

Small World Journeys pays to offset the carbon emissions that result from all of our our trips, and have done so since the inception of the company. 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.

Additionally, we also give our groups the opportunity to offset their air travel and other emissions with our online Carbon Calculator. Offsetting your personal carbon emissions costs less than you might think!

In 2017, we offset 76.72 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions!

3. Including Aboriginal Perspectives on Every Tour

3. Including Aboriginal Perspectives on Every Tour

Essential to our journeys is the perspective of Australia’s Indigenous people. Our policy is to offer at least one experience with Aboriginal people on every set tour. Students 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 learn basics of Jirrbal language, hear about traditional protected area management from a Yirrganydji ranger, create art and dance with Tjapukai people, learn how to use a spear and hunt for food with Kuku Yalanji guides, and learn from a Yirrganydji elder about early life in Cairns. 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.

4. Helping Save The Reef

4. Helping Save The Reef

The Great Barrier Reef was majorly affected by the global bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, and climate change continues to be the reef’s biggest threat.  Small World has sponsored a coral “tree” at the reef in partnership with Reef Restoration Foundation

The tree is part of a program that involves scientists and researchers finding resilient corals, attaching them to giant structures called “trees” and growing them bigger.  The corals are then re-planted on the reef.  This is a one-of-a-kind unprecedented project at the Great Barrier Reef and we are thrilled to be a part of it.  Students on our tours can also learn from this teaching tool at the reef, which we feel is a symbol of hope for the future of the Great Barrier Reef.

For more information about Reef Restoration Foundation and our sponsorship and involvement, see Philanthropy and Partnerships.

5. Re-Planting the Rainforest

5. 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.

6. Keeping Distances Short & Expert Guides - We're Not a "Coach" Company

6. Keeping Distances Short & Expert Guides - 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.

Our guides aren’t just “bus drivers”: they 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.

For more about our expert guides, see The SWJ Team.

6. Keeping the Tourist Dollar Local

6. 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. We also give you a list of where to buy locally-made souvenirs on your trip.

Ask us about adding a talk by Small World Journeys’ owner about Sustainability & You OR Impacts of Tourism – two different talks that highlight the importance of keeping income in the community and reducing “leakage”.

8. 5% of Profits Go To Community & Environmental Groups

8. 5% of Profits Go To Community & Environmental Groups

We have committed at least 5% of our net profits each year to support non-profit environmental and community 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. Every year we make financial donations to organisations like Rainforest Rescue to help save the Daintree Rainforest, Kuranda Envirocare to help protect a riparian zone that hosts 2 endangered species, to The Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre  and to Rosies Friends on the Street to help Cairns’ homeless and needy people. In addition, we volunteer for and give to Oz Harvest, a charity helping reduce food waste and re-allocate potentially wasted food to folks who need it.

9. Reducing and Recycling Like Crazy People

9. Reducing and Recycling Like Crazy People

We do our best to spread the message of reducing consumption.  In addition, we look for innovative ways to reuse and recycle – like sending away all of our groups’ used snack wrappers to a factory that breaks down the plastic and makes them into other things!  We even wipe our bums with toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap (they give 50% of profits to build toilets in developing countries!).

As a student on one of our educational tours, 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 practice, we estimate that since 2010 we have saved over 10,000 plastic water bottles and 5,000 plastic bags from going in landfills.

For more information on our responsible tourism policies, see Responsible Travel.

10. We Compensate Our Staff for Volunteering

10. We Compensate Our Staff for Volunteering

Volunteering rocks. As a business we value tremendously efforts made to support the community.  So we give our employees time each week to volunteer for the local charity organisation of their choice during work hours.  This has the natural outcome of involving our team in making a difference in Cairns, and allowing them to feel good about contributing.  And we believe happy staff equals happy customers!

Rachael MacLeod, part of the Small World team and nicknamed “The Turtle Whisperer”, volunteers regularly for the Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehab Centre. Here she is, describing the importance of the Rehab Centre and releasing a rehabilitated turtle back into the ocean: