15 Mar 24

Small steps towards a better world

Dave Community

This past month we were lucky to have the Australia and NZ B-Corp summit take place on our doorstep on the Mornington Peninsula, as part of which we took people on local walks. The B-Corp movement of which we are part, is aimed at companies finding new ways of doing business to improve the lives of people and the planet, having a greater purpose beyond profit. So what does that look like?

The B-Corp summit and movement has attracted many great companies, large and small, and some of the better-known include Patagonia, Intrepid Travel, Australian Ethical, and Kathmandu amongst almost 8,000 global companies. All want to make an impact for good in the communities they serve and for the planet. That looks different for every business depending on their line of work, audience and geographic location. As a B-Corp you are assessed on five impact areas and roughly 250 questions as a part of your certification,

What does B-Corp represent and achieve?

Patagonia is probably the most esteemed B-Corp as a company that not only has activism at its core but has turned over its entire shareholding ‘to the Planet’ – so profits now benefit environmental causes rather than individual shareholders. Precious few organisations are at that level of commitment but everyone can be inspired by such an example of a new way of doing business with much broader priorities. We can’t find solutions to problems with the same thinking and consciousness that created them in the first place.

Currently, it feels like there are so many global challenges we face as a species that it is hard for companies and individuals to know where to start and feel like they are making an effective difference to these mounting challenges and the metacrisis we are told we are in. But we have to start somewhere and most often that is locally, beginning with what is within our sphere of influence: ourselves and the people and places around us. And in truth, that is the right place to start, as grassroots action and pressure is often the best way to change behaviours, government policies and institutions.

What is RAW Travel doing?

We are not at the level of Patagonia here at RAW Travel, but we are committed to assessing and improving our social and environmental impacts on an ongoing basis. It’s really easy to express support for climate action for instance, but often much harder to implement effective measures that really make a tangible difference and not just good PR.

We are still committed to planting native trees for every customer who travels with us, in the spirit of David Attenborough’s call to ‘Rewild the Planet’. We are also looking at investments to protect existing forests as well, as it makes more sense with carbon sequestration to protect a fully grown tree than wait 30+ years for the sapling you’ve just planted to reach the same maturity! Carbon offsets are a thorny issue; it’s certainly an imperfect science behind some of them, and some dubious players in the carbon market. But they are a step in the right direction of taking action now and trying to protect what we have with attempts to reduce our carbon impacts.

While walking is essentially a low-impact form of travel there is still work to account for our impacts; a reduction in emissions generated is still the no 1 priority,  but in truth most of the impact with our trips comes from flying to the destination! (We were one of only a few companies globally willing to look at paying for carbon offsets for the flights we sold but the pandemic and airlines cutting commissions to 1% eventually put paid to our flights department.)

Cleaner fuels for planes may be an answer is still some way in the distant future. The airlines themselves won’t build in carbon offsets to their fares and still only some airlines offer travellers the option to pay for their own offsets – and not many travellers voluntarily do. (And don’t get me started on all the excessive plastic waste most of these guys generate during their flights!)

As a company, we continue to look at both reducing and offsetting our carbon footprint each year and taking action on other issues such as plastics reduction and supporting groups who clean our oceans and advocate to business and manufacturers. One positive change; the Pandemic gave us the impetus and time to change our office operations and hugely reduce the amount of printing and paper we use each year, by creating our RAW Travel app and staff remote working, not commuting daily. It’s perhaps a small impact overall but if all companies do something similar by looking at their own influence and impacts it can lead to huge changes – that is what the B Corp movement is about.

Ultimately, it’s looking at what we can do as individuals to own our power of choice that is the most tangible: taking fewer long-haul flights (ouch!) and staying longer in your destination, installing solar panels, reducing our meat consumption (or at least choose chicken or pork over beef and lamb), walk, ride a bike or use public transport where there’s an option, and next time you buy a car, choose an electric one. There’s a long list of practical actions and choices that are often substitutes rather than sacrifices (for those who can afford the choice…). The good news is we are already improving in many of our impacts and choices, we just have to keep taking that journey and focus on creating a sustainable life and planet for the generations yet to come.

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