Sustainability

Our Definition Of Sustainability

Human action impacts the world, whether it impacts the physical environment or impacts other living beings. Actions as simple as making a cup of coffee have effects that ripple outwards like a pebble thrown into a pond.

In recognizing that every action has impacts, our vision of sustainability is for our programs and business practices to have a net positive impact on the world. Our goal is for impacts from our programs and business practices to tip the scales towards the positive, so that the negative impacts that do occur are justified through a net overall benefit.

For us, sustainability means balancing the kinds of experiences we offer and the expectations of our students against the ability of our host communities to manage the social impacts of our visiting and the minimization of our impacts upon the environment, so that host communities benefit, environments are sustained and the ability for future travelers to enjoy the same experience is not compromised.

We’ve done a lot of soul searching about the sustainability of international travel. In a nut-shell, we believe that our programs can have a positive effect on the countries and communities we spend time in. We are an important source of income for many communities and provide valuable opportunity for meaningful cultural exchange. We utilize small scale local or family operated businesses for transport, activities and accommodation. We make our programs as low impact as possible, and facilitate as many learning opportunities as we can.

 

Overall Strategies

  • Training and induction of staff on our vision, sustainability policies and organization ethics.
  • Imparting sustainability concepts to students in a way that is constructive and inspiring.
  • Keeping as much of program spending in host communities as possible.
  • Advocating and teaching sustainability and ethical travel.
  • Maintaining assessment of environmental and social impact of our programs in the planning stage and evaluation through student, instructor and host feedback.

Encouraging Positive Impacts

  • Facilitation of genuine cultural exchange between students and host communities.
  • Working with program alumni to facilitate ongoing communication and assistance to communities visited.
  • Encouraging students to share their experiences after their return from a program.
  • Support, use and encouragement of businesses that actively support sustainability.
  • Use of locally owned businesses on our programs, because businesses that are locally owned are more likely to engage in sustainable practices as they are more easily held accountable by their community and money stays in the host community/country.
  • Raising awareness of the importance of sustainability among students throughout their experience with us.
  • Incorporating activities into our programs that highlight the interconnectedness of our world and the importance of students managing their impacts on the world.

Reducing Negative Impacts

  • Provision of our ‘code of ethical travel’ to students, to facilitate mutually positive experiences for students and host communities.
  • Providing constructive feedback to operators with unsustainable practices.
  • Encouraging students to eat local foods during programs, reducing wasteful transporting of foodstuffs long distances.
  • Encouraging students to conserve resources like electricity and water.
  • Banning the use of non-biodegradable soaps and lotions where they could pollute waterways.
  • Requiring our students to use water filter bottles to eliminate the need to buy bottled water.

Office Sustainability

  • Reducing the use of paper by digitizing as much administration as possible, from online program payment to email receipts, email bookings and student files.
  • Workplace practice of minimizing use of water, heater and lights
  • Recycling and avoiding single use plastics in the office
  • Reducing use of motor vehicle and encouragement of use of bicycles, ride sharing and public transport.
  • We are lucky enough to be based in a country whose electricity generation is already 82% renewable! This makes New Zealand one of the lowest carbon dioxide emitting countries in terms of electricity generation.

Giving Back

  • Volunteer Projects – Students on our programs have collectively contributed in excess of 25,000 volunteer days to projects as diverse as building simple houses for solo mothers in marginalized rural communities in Cambodia to conservation work supporting the threatened New Zealand Dotterel.
  • Support of grassroots organizations within countries we operate in. We regularly donate funds and encourage our students to support a number of grass-roots organisations.