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Winter is back in many parts of our precious world. Skiing and snowboarding trips are on the calendar around the globe. Do you also have a snowy escape lined up? If so, keep on reading to find out how to make your carbon footprint of this trip a barely discernible snowshoe imprint.

To begin, find eco-friendly ski and snowboard equipment – from the actual skis/snowboard to clothing to wax and more. You may also source used equipment instead of buying new to reduce waste to landfill. Remember that you can always recycle/donate used gear that is still in good used condition. Choose jackets, scarves, gloves and boots that are previously loved or made from recycled material. Fleece products, for example, are often made from recycled plastic bottles.

Get to the slopes by using shared shuttle services or other public transportation instead of a personal car. This will help to reduce carbon emissions, air pollution and noise – not to mention eliminate the worry of your car getting stuck in the snow! Check out these ‘car-free’ and ‘no-car-needed’ ski resorts when choosing your holiday destination. Choosing an accommodation and ski resort that is dedicated to greening the slopes will help to lower the negative environmental impact or even result in a carbon neutral holiday. Look for opportunities to offset your footprint. Read more about how one ski resort aims at cutting carbon emissions to zero in the future.

All set for going down the slopes? For more food for thought on your next active winter vacation, read about the environmental impact of ski resorts and solutions and alternatives here. Let’s all go green so we can keep our slopes powdery!

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The countdown has begun! This joyous time of year has become its own season filled with lots of joyfulness, delicious treats and creative decoration for many people around the world. If you are looking for creative ways to host a fun and sustainable year-end gathering at work, we have just the right ideas for you.

Why not repurpose your office waste into some unique Christmas decoration? Gather old magazines, recycled paper or carton, as well as other recyclable waste from around the office to get the crafting session started. Take this opportunity to also talk about waste management and how to reduce waste in the office during the event.

Choose from a variety of green decorating ideas that are already out there or come up with your own using recycled goods from around your office. Whether you are creating ornaments, wreaths, or other décor, you will be surprised by how ‘waste’ can be turned into something glorious. You may even ask everyone to bring some more supplies from their homes. Be inspired by these recycled ornaments and check out these Christmas and winter crafts made from old toilet paper rolls or others made from old egg cartons.

You can even make your own Christmas cards or gift tags using old magazines or newspaper. All you and your colleagues will need are scissors and glue! And in case you are missing some essential arts and craft supplies, look for environmentally friendly options when purchasing them.

To take your get-together to the next level, you may even want to consider running a little workshop on how to upcycle used coffee grounds from your office’s pantry. A self-made candle from coffee grounds or a bar of soap makes the perfect eco-friendly Christmas gift.

Last but not least, put on some Christmas tunes and simply be jolly. Are you ready for the holiday season now?  Let’s get crafting!

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World Soil Day, celebrated on December 5th, is just around the corner. We invite you to be inspired by this year’s theme, ‘Caring for the planet starts from the ground.’ Let’s celebrate soils!

You may wonder why soil is so important and why it should be celebrated. The UN officially declared December 5, 2014 as the first annual World Soil Day with the aim to raise awareness about the critical importance of soil in our lives.

To secure food for our future, we need to guarantee healthy and productive soils – the healthier the soil, the more nutrients a plant can soak up. Let’s remember that soils are the foundation of vegetation which provides us with healthy food, animal feed, fuel, fibre, household goods and other essentials. To ensure that everyone around the world can have access to these essentials, it is important to be respectful to the environment wherever you travel. Soil, a non-renewable resource, is also important for providing an adequate water supply and maintaining its quality since the water absorption properties of soil play a role in reducing pollution from chemicals in pesticides and other compounds. You can find more reasons why healthy soil is vital to human life on earth here.

Start with educating yourself and others about the need and benefits of protecting and learn about the different types of soil and their nature. Why not spread the word on the importance of maintaining healthy soils using one of FAO’s infographics to support your message.

There are many ways to celebrate soil. FAO shares some ideas that can help you create some buzz around the World Soil Day:

  • Set up a meeting with local farmers in a field for an interesting discussion
  • Get people moving and active by organising a 5k run or (half-) marathon
  • Plan an exhibition or cultural performance that celebrates local agricutlure
  • Launch a poem or song-writing contest
  • Invite a guest-lecturer or speaker (be inspired by PATA’s example of teaching staff how to produce their very own healthy soil through composting)
  • Organise a field trip to plant trees that reduce soil erosion
  • Share a slice of a tasty World Soil Day (mud!) cake with your colleagues
  • Choose from FAO’s video material and display it at your World Soil Day event

You can also check for local events near you, browsing FAO’s worldwide events map.

No matter of the kind of activity you chose in the end, share your views and celebration photos on social media platforms using the hashtag #WorldSoilDay. Let’s care for our planet and celebrate this year’s World Soil Day together!

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Whether you are planning a beach holiday to escape the winter that is coming to your part of the world, or whether you live near the beach, it is important to practice mindfulness for the environment. Here are some easy ways to minimise your footprint:

Before you leave

Remember to turn off lights, unplug your electronics and most importantly, turn off air-conditioning before you leave your hotel room or your home to limit energy use. Refill your reusable water bottle to avoid buying plastic bottles, and pack some snacks in reusable containers. If you are staying at a hotel, look for snacks in minimal and environmental friendly packaging.

On the way

Choose an eco-friendly mode of transportation to get to the beach. Go for a stroll if the beach is in walking-distance of your accommodation, ride a bicycle if available, or check for local busses to take you as close to the beach as possible.

At the beach

Apply an organic, mineral-based sunscreen that does not harm people and the ocean – For guidance on purchasing an ocean-safe option, you can find helpful tips here.

If you plan on exploring some coral reefs, read our tips for responsible diving and snorkelling.

Stay hydrated! For many, sipping the water of a coconut is a beach essential. Consider bringing your own reusable straw to reduce plastic waste. There are many different options of reusable straws for you to pick from.

Check if the beach is a smoke-free zone in case you are a smoker. If smoking is not banned, make sure to bring a eco-friendly portable ashtray to keep the beach free from cigarette butts as they contain hazardous substances that are threat to the marine life.

Always take your trash with you, or dispose of it in a designated bin. Pick up litter if you see any in the water or in the sand. You may even want to participate in a beach clean-up initiative or simply dedicate five minutes to collect litter you find near you. Also check our tips for reducing plastic waste on our beaches and in our waters.

For more reading and tips about beach travel, visit our friends at beachmeter.com.

With these simple tips in mind, all you need to do is get your friends or family together for a sunny and relaxing beach day!

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What does sustainability mean to you personally? How can you engage with issues such as poverty or sustainable consumption that relate to the SDGs?

One approach may be to start by looking at your individual values and establishing a personal sustainability action plan. This should be an achievable, realistic plan to take on a short-term project that you believe in that can lead to a more sustainable lifestyle! Identify changes you would like to make in your daily or weekly activities and start to practice these changes until they become a habit. When establishing your personal sustainability plan, check that it meets the RISE criteria: is it repeatable, inspirational, sustainable, and enjoyable?

There’s no reason to wait till the New Year to make a resolution! Raise awareness now, and take action! Inspire others to join the movement. Remember that challenging yourself or someone else can make a big impact through building strong communities of passionate and like-minded people. Be creative and come up with a plan to make the most of the last month of 2017. For example, how about trying to live a…

FREEcember

…with possible action points such as the following:

  • Try a new approach to your diet: how about a meat-free Monday or milk-/dairy-free week? A dietary shift can help to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately have the positive environmental impact you would like to make.
  • Go plastic-free: shop at a local market to avoid unnecessary packaging, use a reusable water bottle, coffee mug or lunch box and most importantly, say no to using plastic bags! You will help keeping our precious world clean and wildlife safe.
  • Spend a gadget-free Sunday: include some time to unplug and disconnect when planning your weekend or your next getaway.  
  • Enjoy a car-free weekend: if you are relying on your car to commute to work during the week, give your car a rest on the weekend and cut carbon emissions by using public transport or a bicycle to get around. This little change will help to reduce pollution from engines and improve air quality.

 

If this is something you are already doing, maybe you find some more idea with a

DOcember

  • Stay healthy: start a fitness– or yoga-challenge, join a gym class or simply take the stairs instead of an elevator whenever possible.
  • Start a 5-minute journal to become more mindful and live with intention.
  • Recycle and upcycle with do-it-yourself projects to reduce waste to landfill and to reduce waste generated in manufacturing processes! You can also donate unwanted clothes or other household items to a charity to help people in need.
  • Carry a reusable shopping bag with you every day, and keep a reusable drinking cup at your office to purchase your after-lunch refreshment in a eco-friendly way.

 

Your passion is the fire that fuels your action, so keep helpful reminders about why you want to live more sustainably. We dare you to establish a sustainability plan that can help guide your way to a more eco-conscious lifestyle.

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Having formed and implemented a green team at your company is a crucial first step in ensuring sustainability practices are put into practice. However, keeping it active and effective can pose a new challenge – one that may be more difficult than expected. This Green Tip shares some ideas to keep in mind to ensure your staff stays happily committed to a greener future.

Firstly, it is important to hold regular meetings. Agreeing to meet on a regular basis will help to give everyone a better sense of the meaningfulness of their commitment. Keeping everyone in the loop on arising issues and finding common ground on the development of projects will also help the team members to brainstorm new ideas and encourage them to share feedback on what’s working and amendments may be required. Setting priorities by discussing most doable projects and setting realistic goals will be beneficial to ensure fruitful achievements.

Allow the meeting to be a fun get-together as you will get more active participation if you lighten the mood. You may consider turning the next meeting into a healthy lunch meeting – boosting your team members with some nourishment may be a great way to recharge.

Be sure to always recognize and show appreciation for your green team members and volunteers. While some may be drowning in work at times, it is important to break down barriers to engagement by spreading out the work load. Encourage collaboration and learning.

Lastly, get the word out on the involvement of your green team members by creating a newsletter or blog to show everyone else how easy it is to get involved and be the change they want to see.

You can also find more tips for a successful green team here.

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When visiting National Parks, the best way to be a responsible traveller is to follow the rules and regulations. After all, they are there for a good reason – your protection. Respect posted rules and remind others to do so if necessary and appropriate by politely reminding fellow visitors to notice and follow the park’s rules to contribute to continued preservation. Report any signs of vandalism or misbehaviour to park rangers. Parks’ visitor centres are a good resource for information on regulations as well as for available trails. Here are some more ways to enjoy a responsible national park visit.

  1. Stick to indicated trails to ensure that the ecosystem is not harmed and the environment as well as you stays safe. Though some parks may allow off trail or cross country experiences, it is not a general rule so do your research on regulations and rules for the recreational area you are visiting. If you are bringing pets, make sure the trail allows it, and be sure to keep them leashed and that you clean up after them. You may also consult local authorities or park rangers on site. If you feel more adventurous or if there are too many visitors on the trails, you may want to choose a backcountry adventure.
  2. Avoid removing seeds or shells, damaging corals or picking flowers to not have a negative impact on nature. Enjoy watching the wildlife instead of feeding it to not intervener with their natural way of sourcing food.
  3. If you are planning on camping in a national park, make sure to check the local camping regulations and prepare your campground meals in advance. Bringing your ingredients in reusable containers (including your reusable water bottle) will help to reduce waste. In case you still produce waste, ensure that it goes in the correct bins or take it back with you if no suitable disposal is available. Read more of our tips for responsible camping and RVing.
  4. Use the park’s shuttle services for transportation if available instead of driving yourself. You will be able to enjoy more of the scenery and worry less about traffic or parking. They are also a great way to get around if you are planning a one-way hike.

Read more about the right behaviour in national parks here, stay safe and enjoy your visit!

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While you may not have control over choosing the destination for your next business trip it’s possible to make your stay more responsible.

Start with checking the Arcadis Sustainable Cities index and the destination’s website for sustainability features. Tourism Vancouver, for example, has a section on its site dedicated to sustainable tourism. Many cities offer a variety of green initiatives such as themed weeks, mini festivals and food recycling.

If you are attending a MICE event, be sure to ask your event organiser some pertinent questions about the event, such as:

  • Does the event have a sustainability policy?
  • Have you communicated the sustainability commitment to stakeholders?
  • Is the event environmentally certified?
  • What types of environmental practices are in place?

 

Look for ways to incorporate local traditional culture into meetings and conventions (example of Kyoto Culture for meetings Subsidy). Engage and support local communities by visiting farmers markets and restaurants that use locally grown products.

If you plan to explore the destination on a guided tour, ask your tour operator or guide to give details of established environmental guidelines that minimise the impact of tourists upon the environment, culture and community.

Remember to be respectful of the destination and its natural resources by always recycling waste or disposing of it responsibly. Some smart destinations even offer apps to report litter to improve the urban environment. You may also want to find out which buildings have received USGBC’s LEED certification. Exploring such listed buildings at your destination can reveal some interesting tips.

When getting around at the destination, the journey matters. Check with your accommodation or meeting organiser for shuttle bus services, if any, to reduce the use of taxis. Choose local public transport and shuttle services, particularly when travelling to and from the airport. Look for transport options such as cycle-sharing (example of Chicago’s Divy). If you are in a group you may also want to consider using car-sharing services such as Uber Pool.

If you feel inspired and would like your city to become a green meetings destination, check out the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s criteria for destinations and the EarthDay.org resource for Green Cities.

For more guidelines on hosting green events, check out TCEB’s Sustainable Events Guide.

Read more about being a responsible business traveller: PATA Responsible Business Travel Guidelines.

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Halloween is just around the corner so here are some ideas to ensure that the spookiest time of the year is green. Whether you are celebrating with your family and friends or have a themed event at your office, you are only a few steps away from a ‘green’ Halloween.

Decorations and costumes

Look for do-it-yourself decoration ideas by making the most of recyclable items around your house and workplace. Browse for easy recycled decoration ideas and be inspired. Tin cans of all sizes, empty glass bottles, jars and toilet paper rolls can easily be turned into scary décor. It’s the same with your costume. Browse your wardrobes or the local flea markets for clothing suitable for your scary DIY Halloween costume.

Choose environmentally-friendly face paint to make your own fake blood. to get motivated, or if you lack all necessary items, make it a fun get-together with friends and ask them to bring arts and crafts supplies and recycled materials to trade.

Food and drinks

No Halloween party is complete without drinks and snacks. Green your party with reusable crockery and cutlery and search for recyclable or compostable items if required.  Choose organic candy without artificial flavours or preservatives. There are many options for delicious and healthy home-made Halloween snacks including vegetarian/vegan options that do not require detailed preparation and cooking/baking skills.

Pumpkins

Halloween is simply not the same without pumpkins. However, think about how to get the most from your pumpkin. Many people use pumpkins purely for decoration, even though they make delicious pies, soup, bread and even dog food. Check out these creative upcycling ideas for pumpkins using old sweaters, socks and more. If you choose a real pumpkin, make sure to read our tips on what to do with pumpkin waste.  

Take this year’s green Halloween initiative one step further by staging a fun competition in your workplace. Form teams to create the most sustainable and creative decoration for the office and then post your spooky Halloween photos on social media.

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The aviation industry is responsible for two percent of global emissions. If you care about the environment but also love travelling you can help to reduce your impact by utilising your airline loyalty mileage.

 

Buying carbon offsets

Choose an airline that offers carbon offsetting opportunities. The majority of airlines, including major carriers such as United and Thai, offer voluntary carbon offsets when selling tickets so that customers may elect to compensate by supporting a carbon reduction project.

 

More information on carbon emission calculations is provided by the International Air Transport Association’s Carbon Offset Programme. Read more about carbon offset programmes here.

 

Donating mileage and reward points

Donate your air miles to environmental charities such as carbonfund.org which helps people and businesses to reduce and offset climate impact. You may also donate your miles to initiatives such as Cathay Pacific’s FLY greener programme.

 

You can also buy carbon offsets from projects that reduce CO2 emissions. This is an excellent way of utilising your loyalty mileage before the expiration date. Programmes may also be available for businesses and for cargo shipments.  Get ideas as about how you can donate your air miles.

 

Using mileage for eco-friendly products

Look for programmes that enable you to use your air miles for products that are environmentally friendly. For example, Air Canada’s My Planet programme allows customers to use rewards and points to purchase eco-friendly products and services – from electric scooters to organic cotton sheets.

 

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