As the effects of climate change become increasingly evident, some travelers find dissonance in their desire to experience the world while wanting to be responsible stewards of the planet. For those who are determined to do some good while they globetrot, there are several ways to leave a lighter footprint. One option to consider is offsetting the carbon emissions from your trip.
“Meaningful and affordable”
Since 2008, Holbrook Travel has partnered with ClimateSafe, the United States’ first federally recognized certification mark for greenhouse gas-neutral products and services. ClimateSafe allows travelers to offset the carbon emissions from their trip by supporting renewable energy, energy efficiency, and forestry projects in the U.S. and internationally.
“Some of the many projects we have supported include carbon sequestration via a reforestation project in Central America, as well as many North American projects that support landfill gas destruction, energy efficiency projects, micro-hydroelectric, and recycled building materials and green building projects,” says Holbrook COO Stephanie Kowacz. She says Holbrook has a say in which projects they support and welcomes feedback from travelers. In one instance, Holbrook was personally involved in developing the reforestation project in Central America.
“We feel it’s important to reduce carbon emissions and that it needs to be meaningful and affordable,” Kowacz says. To accomplish this, Holbrook calculates the distance of a person’s air travel, then calculates the amount of CO2 generated by other modes of transportation (like bus or boat), then uses an equation created by ClimateSafe to determine the price of the traveler’s offset. For example, for a 9-day trip to Costa Rica emitting 2.5 metric tons of CO2, Holbrook Travel and ClimateSafe would offset the emissions for $25 per person.
Throughout its partnership with ClimateSafe, Holbrook has offset over 5,000 metric tons of CO2 from 1,400 passengers and has invested over $20,000 on neutralizing client travel.
Hopeful for the future
ClimateSafe founder and CEO Mark van Soestbergen says he created the ClimateSafe certification after a trip abroad in the 1990s. “I was inspired by the circumstances I saw in a developing nation and realized that planting trees is both good for local populations and for the global environment,” he says.
Despite doom-and-gloom headlines, he’s optimistic about the future. He says it’s important to balance conservation efforts with the needs of developing countries, whose citizens still need access to things like healthcare and modern conveniences. “It comes at a certain cost; we just need to do it better. We have lots of resources,” he says. “Am I hopeful? Yes! We can do this.”
Plus, he says, increasingly we see how changes in one part of the world have affects in other parts of the world. “We don’t have a good excuse anymore to screw this one up,” he says.
An empowering partnership
Together, Holbrook Travel and ClimateSafe…
Support a project that has planted 11,000 native trees in Costa Rica in order to remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere, improve the watershed, enhance wildlife habitat (especially for the native bee genus Melipona), and increase forest-based revenue from nuts, fruit, and honey from Melipona
Generate emissions-free electricity through flowing rivers, lakes and oceans, thus reducing the use of carbon-based fuels.
Replace traditional light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) in low-income neighborhoods in north Florida in order to promote energy efficiency.
Support low-energy sustainable building practices (or “green buildings”) in Boston and Florida.
Partner with the New River Solid Waste Association to cover landfills to trap, clean up, and burn powerful greenhouse gases, destroying the methane and reducing the impact on the environment.
Operate wind energy farms in Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas through Midwest Renewable Energy Projects, LLC.
Harvest 20th century wooden floors, doors, cabinetry, brick and other materials to keep waste out of landfills and reduce manufacturing emissions.
Holbrook Travel does not make a profit from this partnership; 100% of the funds go through ClimateSafe to organize, quantify and monitor these projects.
Together with ClimateSafe, Holbrook Travel’s goal is to empower travelers with knowledge about climate change to last beyond the travel experience and make meaningful contributions to renewables, energy efficiency, and afforestation projects in all its destinations.
“We hope that our travelers both offset their travel programs and additionally work to reduce their own individual carbon footprints in their everyday life,” Kowacz says. She notes other “green” initiatives Holbrook’s office is undertaking, such as its many recycling efforts, the installation of solar panels and energy efficient lighting, and providing secure bike parking for employees.
“Overall we feel the ClimateSafe program has gained momentum and is a success. However, we continue to strive to encourage even more participation by our travelers in the future,” she says.