Written by: Alicia Caton Published July 20, 2021
A year ago we were inspired by our colleagues at Amity Tours to declare a climate emergency in support of Tourism Declares, an initiative that supports tourism businesses, organizations and individuals in declaring a #ClimateEmergency and taking purposeful actions to reduce their carbon emissions as per the advice from The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to cut global carbon emissions to 55% below 2017 levels by 2030.
As part of our promise to deliver our first Climate Action Plan, we have thought and planned carefully over the past year on how we can realistically achieve important and necessary changes that can be implemented into our operations and programs. We continue to encourage all of our suppliers and partners, or anyone reading this climate action plan, to make the same declaration and to also encourage and share best practices throughout the tourism industry.
Although we have not been able to implement all of these new strategies or changes into practice due to lack of operations and scheduled tours caused by the pandemic, we are grateful for the time which has allowed us to prepare and plan carefully for a responsible return to tourism and a better product offered by our company.
Our Initiatives & Steps For Reducing Carbon Emissions
Operations & Excursions
One benefit of shutting down our headquarters in Puerto Natales due to the pandemic beginning in April 2020 – present (July 2021), is that we reduced our energy consumption by more than 1,200kg CO2/year by unplugging our big energy appliances and suspending daily use of office operations and equipment.
Re-evaluating our operations during the pandemic, we have committed to buy all products for our programs, office, and operations from the first Zero Waste market in Puerto Natales, Efecto Granel. Changing the structure of our buying habits allows us to reuse, reduce, redesign, and eliminate…significantly lowering our emissions and the amount of waste generated. This company is as an important pillar for the community of Puerto Natales serving as a collection point for various recycled materials such as batteries, tetrapaks, among other materials and items which are not typically accepted by normal recycling centers or programs in the community. Many of these items are converted into eco-ladrillos (eco blocks) or donated to respected partners who use items for various purposes or projects.
Developing more programs that integrate regenerative & rewilding practices into tourism opportunities such as our 14 Day Patagonia Collection Program which is a collaborated program with sustainable partners such as Amity Tours – a Zero Waste tour company – and Chile Legacy Foundation through BirdsChile – a Certified B Corporation travel company in Chile.
We will no longer offer salmon in our box lunches or food options to our guests since industrial salmon farms in our region are causing detrimental harm to the ecosystems, environment, and local fisherman.
Looking ahead to when we resume our tours and begin receiving our wonderful clients again, we have launched a digital app, Vamoos, which allows future travelers to access their travel itineraries and reservation vouchers, and view interactive maps & digital documents, eliminating the need for paper. This app also allows us to introduce social distancing measures with respect to post-covid travel, allowing guests to use QR codes, receive notifications and real-time communications. In the future, this application will also offer clients the possibility of calculating their carbon emissions, which they can later donate to authorized organizations dedicated to offsetting these emissions.
Waste & Recycling
We will continue to accumulate all our organic residues which are then delivered to Ciclos Patagonia, a local company who encourages and promotes a circular economy working with vermicomposting. Once the compost is collected and converted into humus, an incredible high-quality compost, it is then returned to the earth through agriculture.
We will participate in our community’s monthly recycling campaign recycling all our PET 1, HDPE 2, PP 5, PS 6, plastic bottle tops, HP toners, alkaline batteries, accepted paper products, and aluminum cans.
We have installed a cigarette butt collection box outside of our office for depositing cigarette butts which are then collected periodically by Imeko who then transforms them into a new recyclable raw material for the industry.
Partnerships & Education
We will continue to conserve & adapt ecosystems by donating USD$ 15 for each of our guests to the Torres del Paine Legacy Foundation who work in Torres del Paine National Park and its surrounding communities through conservation projects within the park and community development initiatives.
We will also continue our cooperation agreement between the Municipality of Torres del Paine, in which we promise to present educational support projects to two rural schools within the commune – Escuela Rural Cerro Guido & Escuela Rural Ramón Montaner. These projects take place in the form of environmental education and youth outings to Torres del Paine National Park – the most important tourist destination of the region where both rural schools are located. The idea is to teach the students the significance of their natural environment and its relation to local tourism and the future of sustainable practices, as well as the importance of learning English which can provide a path for future career opportunities and both personal & socioeconomic development.
As an official supplier of Route of the Parks of Patagonia, a greenspace for Chile and the world, we will continue to promote programs that highlight travel and tourism throughout the 17 national parks that are along this scenic route and other suppliers who operate in these communities and areas. After the Amazon Basin, the Route of the Parks of Patagonia has one of the highest rates of carbon storage in South America protecting 28 million acres, and is also an economic impulse for more than 60 surrounding communities who benefit from conservation.
In addition, we have become a member of an organization called Tomorrow’s Air, a climate alliance program between ecotourism agencies and large-scale climate engineering programs. Our alliance as a champion supporter extracts 600kg of carbon from the atmosphere each year through a Swiss company called Climeworks who uses #DirectAirCaptureTechnology to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Selected as one of the ‘Top 5 Chileans Creating Future in Sports & Tourism’, a national campaign designed to highlight leaders of various sectors who are creating a better global future for Chile with local talent.
Once we are back in business, operating under normal season standards – we will work with a local environmental conservation organization, Fundación Lenga, which promotes a conscious, zero-waste tourism. As consultants, they will help us further evaluate our overall operations in order to become a Zero Waste company and implement educational practices for our clients.
Continue advocating for Tourism Declares and Turismo Declara for Latin America through social media and presentations such as the WeTravel Online Conversatory.
Team & Work Dynamics
We will continue offering a home office work structure and virtual meetings for employees to limit and reduce transportation and travel emissions.
For full-time contracted employees living and working in Puerto Natales we will allow benefit use of available company bicycles for transportation needs to eliminate travel emissions produced by fossil fuel transportation methods.
We encourage all staff members to participate in local recycling programs within their local community and will help share best practices and recycling education.
These are merely the beginning stages along our path to becoming a more sustainable, zero waste, and future carbon neutral company. We continue to educate ourselves and others through collective efforts and partnerships and are grateful for this powerful force within the tourism industry that is committed to a responsible return to travel through lowering carbon emissions.
We are committed to serving our promise and will continue to move forward, implementing appropriate changes that promote sustainable & best practices – those which offer a better product to our clients through climate conscious operation standards.