One of the few benefits of the pandemic was the clear skies and big drop in air pollution around the world. In conjunction with this was the conclusion from the COP 26 summit in Glasgow that a reduction of carbon emissions is a priority at a local, national and international scale in order to maintain the limit of 1.5°C increase. This has made most individuals and businesses, more aware of their carbon footprint and mindful that emissions should not creep back up to pre pandemic levels. At Acorn Tourism, we’ve been trying to work out how we can make our operations carbon neutral.

The journey has not been simple…

1. How did we calculate our carbon footprint?

Finding the most appropriate tool to calculate our carbon footprint wasn’t easy. But after extensive research, we opted for the calculator on Ecosphere’s website:

Factors taken into consideration include:

  • commuting to and from work
  • office waste
  • couriers
  • energy consumption for heating/hot water
  • and our business travel

2. What did we do to reduce our emissions?

We are proud of our sustainable office, in which we have been for the past 13 years. Our heat is generated by a biomass boiler using woodchips, all lighting uses LED and most waste is being recycled.

As you can imagine, as tourism consultants, our biggest impact comes from international flights. It has been a big challenge for us as most of our work has been with destinations internationally. However, one thing that the pandemic has helped with is the popularization of using technologies such as Zoom / Teams to conduct business. Two years ago, it would have been unconceivable to conduct an entire international project through online meetings. Now that borders are re-opening, we will of course continue to use such technologies to help reduce the number of international flights we take.

3. Our dilemma…

The challenge is that in-person meetings are much better suited to building close relationships with our partners, which are fundamental to ensuring that the work we produce answers their needs and fits within their vision, culture and community needs, etc. We produce strategies for tourism marketing, new product development, market research and trainings, etc. all of which need to be embedded within the local community and culture for them to be successful. We have found that individuals are more likely to share concerns or ask difficult questions during in-person meetings rather than online. For example, a recent trip to Rwanda has been more productive than 6 months of online work, because our director was able to truly understand the client’s objectives and sensitivities and adapt the project based on their concerns.

4. Is offsetting the solution?

Even though reducing emissions is our priority, we are aware that we will continue to produce a significant amount. Therefore for now, we compensate our remaining emissions by offsetting them by donating to 3 different charities, a local conservation charity, an environmental and a flight offsetting charity. We have done extensive research to select these three projects to ensure that they are of high quality and are effective.

We are conscious that offsetting is not the solution and will continue to work towards further reducing our carbon footprint and play our part in global emission reduction.

Do you have a good practice to help us address this challenge? Let us know!




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