Making Travel Sustainable
Global travel is a life-affirming endeavor that creates lasting memories—but it can also take a negative toll on our environment, contributing to climate change. Even a single trans-Atlantic flight emits tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Starting in 2019, kimkim is taking a leadership role in mitigating the environmental impact of travel. Our collaborative climate neutrality initiative makes every trip carbon neutral, reducing our footprint while promoting sustainable initiatives across the globe.
Our interest in sustainable travel doesn’t end there—many of the specialists we work with have initiatives of their own that protect the environment and support the local community in their destinations. Check out some of their inspiring projects in the list below.
Envol Vert - Aventure Colombia (Colombia)
Colombia is home to 10% of the planet's biodiversity. Unfortunately, the equivalent of 29 football fields of Colombian land disappears every hour due to deforestation. Local tour operator Aventure Colombia has been promoting responsible tourism for some time, and now they've partnered with international reforestation initiative Envol Vert. The math is simple: each traveler to Colombia equals one new tree planted in the country. On top of this, Aventure Colombia supports local indigenous communities as well as Fair Trade initiatives and economic development programs.
FONAFIFO - Unique Adventures (Costa Rica)
If you want a shining example of a nation committed to protecting its natural wonders, look no further than Costa Rica. After all, this is a country with no fewer than four biosphere reserves, and 25% of its land is officially protected. The culture here is steeped in conservation.
Unique Adventures offers eco-tourism adventures throughout Costa Rica, and they're passionate about sustainability, too. They not only implement internationally recognized recycling, energy-saving, and plastic-free initiatives, but they also collaborate with NGOs to address problems in local communities. They've even partnered with FONAFIFO and the national government on a program designed to offset carbon emissions through development in the forestry sector.
Carbon Neutral Whale Watching - North Sailing (Iceland)
As a country, Iceland prides itself on reducing its carbon footprint via the use of geothermal power sources. Local tour provider North Sailing has taken this concept to the seas by offering carbon-neutral whale watching—the company uses carbon-neutral ships powered by geothermal technology. Not only is this cleaner than burning fossil fuels, but the ships are also quieter. This is a great relief for the whales, as noise caused by fuel-burning engines is amplified by their sonar, often causing distress.
Carbon Offsetting & Reforestation - Wise Steps Travel (Indonesia)
Deforestation is an urgent problem in Indonesia. Local tour company Wise Steps Travel implemented an effective carbon-offsetting program in which they plant trees to counter travel-related emissions. It's a precise system, too, as they take into account not only the distance traveled but the type of transport as well, calculating just how many trees they need to plant to remain carbon neutral. They've partnered with local NGOs to further boost this initiative.
Totonal and Climate Change - Totonal Viajes (Mexico)
Totonal Viajes specializes in custom-trips throughout Mexico. They're also trailblazers in environmental tourism, poised to become the first carbon-neutral tour operator in the country. They've designed their own "carbon calculator," a digital predictor that measures the emissions of each custom itinerary they create, taking into account a number of factors including transportation, accommodation, and activities.
Knowing these precise measurements allows Totonal Viajes to reduce carbon emissions while implementing offsetting programs and sustainable tourism initiatives in other regions, like Chiapas. This work is part of Plan Vivo, a UK organization that also promotes carbon-offsetting strategies in Uganda and Mozambique.
Association Tawaya - OT Voyages (Morocco)
Association Tawaya is an NGO dedicated to empowering local communities. Since 2006 they've overseen a number of development projects in the village of R'bat, in Morocco's Atlas Mountains. These include everything from job training and building schools and children's centers to organic farming workshops.
Now OT Voyages, a Moroccan tour operator, has partnered with Tawaya on these community projects and has even created a female goat-farming cooperative to help empower local women. Moreover, OT Voyages organizes excursions for travelers and hikers into the village to camp or stay in local guesthouses. Here they can interact with locals in a cultural exchange.
Boulder Island Conservation - Pegu Travels (Myanmar)
It's only in recent years that Myanmar has become a popular travel destination. That means there's a lot of room for growth in the tourism industry within this nation. To this point, the very first eco-resort has opened in the country on Boulder Island, one of over 800 isles in the unspoiled archipelago of Myeik, which is located in southern Myanmar.
Pegu Travels offers various tours throughout the country, and they've now partnered with Boulder Island, helping to promote the resort in a responsible, environmentally friendly manner. The resort itself is plastic free with nearly zero emissions, they recycle all waste, and they reserve bungalows specifically for scientists and academics conducting environmental research. They hope by promoting conservation and tourism, they can be a model for the nation going forward.
Amazonas Reforestation - Phima Voyages (Peru)
In the region of Amazonas in northern Peru, deforestation is such a problem that a large portion of native forest has been eradicated. Phima Voyages, a company specializing in tailor-made itineraries throughout Peru, was inspired by the conservation initiatives of many Amazonas residents and decided to partner with them.
Specifically, these locals have created an "adopt a tree" program in which travelers staying in local guesthouses will leave a green footprint by purchasing a shrub or tree of their choosing, at which point their hosts plant it. The guests get a certificate and a stone with their name on it, and the Amazon rainforest gets that much more assistance in its reconstruction. It's a win-win.
Water On Board Initiative - Roundabout Travel (Slovenia)
Roundabout Travel offers a wide variety of half and full-day excursions throughout Slovenia. These include everything from walking food tours of the capital city of Ljubljana to castle visits in the countryside to rafting Slovenia's famous River Bled. To help offset carbon emissions they've implemented their "water on board" initiative that involves providing customers on private tours a complimentary glass bottle, which they can then refill with tap water throughout the day (Slovenia's tap water is high quality). It's a simple act but one that helps reduce the number of plastic water bottles used in the tourism industry.
Bear Friendly - Visit GoodPlace (Slovenia)
Wildlife tours are popular throughout the world, and in Slovenia, there's one such activity folks venture from far and wide to experience: brown-bear spotting. That's because Slovenia is one of the few places in Europe where people can view brown bears in their natural environment. However, to mitigate the impact of tourism, Slovenian outdoor adventure agency Visit GoodPlace pride themselves on promoting responsible bear watching in the nation.
Their tours follow strict guidelines to minimize negative impact while ensuring the 500 brown bears left in Slovenia's wild can thrive for the foreseeable future. Plus, part of the revenues from their brown-bear tours goes to support local NGOs dedicated to large-mammal conservation in Slovenia's Dinaric Mountains.
Reforestation - Basquelands Way (Spain)
Spanish tour operator Basquelands Way has been working in conjunction with ALLCOT, a global leader in greenhouse gas emissions-management tools, to reduce the carbon footprint of the custom itineraries they design for clients. Basquelands not only don't use intermediaries but they also support carbon-offsetting initiatives. One of the boldest examples of this is an ongoing project to reforest devasted and over-exploited rainforest eco-systems in South America.
Refill My Bottle - Footprint Travel (Vietnam)
Footprint Travel pride themselves on arranging ecologically responsible hiking, cycling, wildlife, and volunteering tours in Vietnam. Like Slovenia's Roundabout Travel, Footprint is concerned with the amount of plastic waste that is, unfortunately, a byproduct of the tourism industry. That's why they partnered with the Refill My Bottle campaign, which was previously a big hit in Bali. It's an alternative to buying bottled water by offering travelers bottles that they can refill at designated clean-water stations located via an online map. The program is so successful that Refill my Bottle now has over 750 refill locations in Asia, including Vietnam.