I write this blog about ecotourism because I have a big interest in this topic and I do think it can make a difference. I want to share what I find/think interesting about it.
This blog is yours, please feel free to add any comment/suggestion/feedback or email me at guillaume.foutry (at) gmail.com

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tripbase: Why I Accepted Their Award

Image representing Tripbase as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase

In the previous post I said i would only accept the award this blog got from Tripbase if they could prove they are actively acting for the preservation of the environment. Here is their reply:

"As a company

We offset our company's carbon emissions with Carbonfund.org (logo going up on our site soon)
We use split climate control to save energy
We invested in extra office insulation to save energy
We optimized our server code to reduce the number of servers required
We recycle batteries, paper and toner cartridges
We use fax to email service to reduce paper waste
We use low flush volume toilets
We always shut down our computers
We use refillable pens
We switch lights off when leaving the office / toilets
We use water filters rather than bottles
80% of our employees travel to work by foot/bicycle/scooter

To encourage green travel amongst our customers

We produced and distributed a CO2 widget to enable flyers to calculate their carbon emissions before traveling:

We included two green travel categories (Eco Travel and Low Carbon) in our Travel Blog Awards:

We focused on a "green travel" angle for the PR surrounding our Travel Blog Awards, achieving widespread coverage and awareness across countless offline and online media outlets:

We write and link to eco-travel articles on our blog and on Twitter to spread awareness amongst our readers (new green travel blog post coming soon)"

Seems to me they are doing their part. What else do you think they should do?

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

First Award for this Blog: Still a Long Way to Go!

This blog received an award from Tripbase, a search engine that help you to find the right place to go for your next holidays: you do not enter where you want to go, you indicate what natters to you to have a great vacation. the blog is number 10th in the category "Eco Travel-related blogs".

Here are their words about it: "After careful consideration, we have elected to give your blog an award for providing one of the best Eco Travel-related blogs out there. You have emerged in 10th place for this category.

We feel your blog is an excellent example of what a blog should be and trust that you feel proud in this respect. We congratulate you on your achievement and are providing you with a badge to display proudly at your own discretion on your blog as a sign that you are in the top echelons of the blogosphere".

I am someone that really values humility, so there is no risk I will show off about this award (well I put the logo of the award as it is nice sometimes to treat your ego decently! lol), so receiving an award like this has been something that has pushed myself to question about this blog.

I am number 10th, which means there is still a lots of things to improve to become the king of ecotourism. Moreover, I feel my blog has been drifting from ecotourism to green news in general. Not this is a bad thing, but it might then be more appropriate to have a blog dealing with green issues in general and not only travelling. Finally, well, the website giving me the award does not mention anywhere any green activity or invite people to have environmentally friendly attitudes. So it sounds really weird to accept an award from them whereas my blog aim is to promote genuine green companies.

So for the moment I will put the logo of the award on my blog, but if I do not get more explanation on what their policy is regarding the environment, I will take it down. What do you think?

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Australia and Water: a Turning Point?

Australia, founded July 9, 1900.Image via Wikipedia

Australia is an amazing country and a great place to visit, but I have always been shocked by the relationship people had with water o: despite the fact that it is the driest continent on the planet, I met people that were taking three showers a day and just wasting the precious liquid. Let alone the abuse and intensive use by agriculture to sustain practices that make sense in Europe but not there.

So I was happily surprised this week to see that some Australians are taking the measure of the problem and adopting radical tactics to fight the worst drought this country has ever seen. The state of New South Wales is leading the way: the town of Bundanoon has implemented a complete ban on bottled water and the local government has decided to set up the same kind of measure for governmental agencies.

You would tell me that it is not related to the use of water. Of course you are right! But this shows that people are changing the relationship they have with water, the use of natural resources and more generally the environment. And regarding the water issue, I think it shows people are looking at it in a different and it is good.

The positive point is that local governments are leading the way: the state of Victoria has launched a massive PR campaign to push everyone in the population to reduce water consumption, the most striking measure is the 4 minute shower! It seems that politicians have understood the scope of the problem and it is high time: Australia has to do something now otherwise it will not be able to cope with the challenges of climate change!

All these efforts sound good news to me and make me even more eager to get back to the sunshine country!

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Technology to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

World energy consumption, 1980 - 2030.  Source...Image via Wikipedia
The reduction of our energy consumption might be the new source of energy for our century: if we are able to have the same standards of living by consuming 25% less energy, we can truly make a difference. And if you look at the projections, we are not really going in the right direction at the moment.

Fortunately, technology can help us to change this pattern and adopt more responsible lifestyle. Moneysupermarket.com has created an entire section for energy, comparing prices for gas and electricity. but they also put forward green solutions and really informative on what to do to adopt green attitudes taht can make a difference in your every day life consumption.

AlertMe is, as they defined themselves, "a smart energy and home monitoring system". It helps people "to visualise their energy usage in real time and real currency, as well as automating usage optimisation by utilising information such as who is in the home and when, analysing home temperatures and allowing automatic switch off of appliances". So by monitoring closely your consumption you can take action very quickly. This website is an example of what the use of IT for house management can produce.

The last one is routeRank that helps you to find the quickest way from point A to point B, but lets you also assess the amount of carbon dioxide you reject and which road is the least polluting.

If you know more application, please let me know, I would add them here.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Green Britain Day: Can We Trust Energy Companies?

That was Green Britain Day on 10th of July here in the UK. I have to admit that when I saw the poster "Team Green Britain" I thought the idea for the logo was brilliant and the concept of it (mobilizing people for a greener Britain with the help of sportsmen and the London 2012 Olympics organization committee) was useful. But today I feel I was wrong. I feel I have been trapped in a smart PR campaign and abused by what I have criticized: greenwashing.

The whole event is sponsored by EDF, the energy company, in partnership with the Eden Project and the London 2012 Olympics organization committee. The goal is to increase awareness about climate change and to push people to be more responsible for the environment. I have to admit that was an impressive campaign as they were all around the place (newspapers, print ads, social media). But there is an outcry in the UK, lead by Dale Vincent, CEO of Ecotricity, claiming this is greenwashing as EDF is one of the biggest producer of nuclear waste and still operates coal plants. Other competitors such Npower or British Gas have attacked the campaign by saying that it is green day 365 days a year for them.

Al these things made me realize how brainwash I am about the whole system: I had a good perception of EDF because they have a very good customer service in France regarding daily things or in case of emergency. And the French government has always supported nuclear energy and influenced people in order to reassure them about it.

But nuclear energy is wrong as in the long run it creates more problem than it solves. Other energy companies have hands as dirty as EDF does. And even if Ecotricity, might be a greener company, its reaction is more the one of a competitor that someone having a pure interest in the environment. And it s claim about a French company stealing a British symbol is ridiculous: in an international and multicultural place such as Britain, what is the point of this? Putting people on your side with nationalistic rhetoric? Sorry but you are one century late!

So what are we left with? What have we achieved with this day. Bitterness, disappointment and disillusion. What should we do? Launch a European Green Day! Why European? Because no one could use the nationalistic argument but it will still be our day. And to the British, like it or not, but you are European! Plus it would make more sense to act all together at a European level to have a real impact on climate change awareness.

But what should we trust the EU to lead this kind of initiative. Well if you look at the mobile industry, the EU has done a lot more to force companies to reduce their prices than any government. So it appears this is a force that we can, to a limited extent, trust.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Being Green and Being Happy: More than a Possibility, a Reality!

A map of Costa RicaImage via Wikipedia

I just came across this study made by the New Economic Foundation: Costa Rica is the greenest and happiest country in the world! Incredible! I know the notion of what brings happiness is different from one culture to another one, and even from one individual to another one, but I could not help myself to smile at this.

Costa Rica is still fairly poor compared to European and Northern Americans countries but enjoys a relative prosperity compared to its neighbours. It has been able to develop a vast program of environmental preservation and then save a large part of its rich ecosystem. This now constitutes the cornerstone of its economy as tourism and more especially ecotourism provide an essential part of economic resources to its inhabitants. Even if I have commented on the limit of ecotourism in this country, I still recognize it is the leader in this field. And now I would not go to the point that ecotourism buy happiness, but it would say it seems to help!

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