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While you might not have control over choosing the destination for your next business trip, you can make your stay more responsible by checking some eco-friendly facts.

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. As well, many cities offer a variety of green initiatives such as themed weeks or mini festivals, and food recycling.

If you are attending a MICE event, be sure to ask your event organiser 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 in meetings or conventions (example of Kyoto Culture for meetings Subsidy). Engage and support local communities by visiting farmers markets or choosing dining options that use locally grown products.

If you plan on exploring the destination on a guided tour, ask your tour operator or guide to give details of established environmental guidelines that minimize the impact of tourists on the environment, culture and community. Remember to be respectful of the destination and its natural resources by ensuring the right waste disposal and recycling whenever possible. 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 the listed buildings at your destination can reveal some interesting tips.

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

If you are 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 traveler: 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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Dubai World Trade Centre kitchen staff pack excess food to be handed over to the Royati Society (Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives)

Dubai Municipality creates #ZeroFoodWaste campaign for food establishments and residents

Dubai: Dubai is beginning a new war against food waste on Monday to mark World Food Day 2017.

On behalf of the UAE Food Bank, Dubai Municipality, which runs the first branch of the Food Bank, has created the hastag #ZeroFoodWaste, a campaign to commit to zero tolerance for food waste by both food establishments and residents.

Khalid Mohammad Sherif Al Awadhi, assistant director general for Environment, Health and Safety Control Sector, said everyone has a role to play in achieving this ambitious goal on World Food Day, and beyond.

The campaign, Yousif said, is the starting point to make #ZeroFoodWaste a new food culture in Dubai — a culture of being aware about the planet, environment, energy and hunger, all of which are linked to food wastage.

Read the full article on Dubai’s latest campaign here.

By Sajila Saseendran for Gulf News.

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      1. Take a reusable bag to avoid using plastic bags when shopping for groceries and souvenirs. There are many stylish and practical options, including cotton bags or recycled bags that fold into their own little mini-sack.
      2. Carry your own reusable water bottle and check if your accommodation offers refilling stations. You will be supporting the reduction of problematic plastic waste around the world, and you will be saving money. If you are a coffee lover, take a reusable coffee cup to avoid throwing away paper or styrofoam cups.
      3. Avoid buying travel-size, single-use shampoo and conditioner. Pack environmentally- friendly containers that may be used repeatedly. Check the ingredients of your toiletries – you may wish to purchase organic products that are healthier for your skin and body but also cause much less harm to the environment. As an example, many standard sunscreens are potentially harmful to people and the ocean, so choose an organic, mineral-based option. Here’s your guide to choosing an ocean-safe sunscreen.
      4. Unable to live without your smartphones and tablets? Take a solar-powered charger and power up your device with an eco-friendly gadget.
      5. Pack a set of reusable utensils to avoid using plastic knives and forks that are so often non-biodegradable and therefore harm the environment as well as being unhygienic. Take your own cutlery made of a sustainable material such as bamboo and benefit from a beautiful, durable and renewable lightweight option that does not stain or absorb flavours.
      6. Take a sarong. It may not be an obvious item on your eco-packing list but it will turn out to be the best investment a green traveller can make. It can be used as a towel, requiring less water to wash and less time to air-dry and it may also serve as a wet wipe to freshen up. Yes, you heard right, a wet wipe. The corner of a fast-drying sarong can work wonders after a long journey on buses and trains and you don’t leave behind a trail of wasted paper. It can also be used as a fashionable cover up or for a little extra warmth.

       

      All set for your next adventure? If you want to read more about eco-friendly travel essentials, you can find some more ideas here.

      Be sure to check out PATA’s Responsible Business Travel Guidelines for more information about being a responsible traveller before, during and after your trip.

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On October 4th 2017, BIGTrees Project Co-founder Anunta Intra-aksorn and Madeleine Recknagel, of The Sustainable Self initiative, visited the PATA office to share their knowledge on the importance of tree planting, sustainable living, as well as their past and current projects around Bangkok.

Anunta and her colleagues from BIGTrees provided PATA with interesting insights in their engagement in protecting and improving the endangered green spaces in Bangkok, focusing particularly on the protection and planting of trees. Past and current campaigns hosted by BIGTrees, including Urban Tree Care, Save Bangkachao and Mangrove Palm Seeding, have been set up to raise awareness, reconnect people and nature, and call for change. Communal learning has proven to be beneficial to the success of BIGTrees projects. Possibilities to combine leisure activities, such as bicycling, and engaging in environmental activities (e.g. planting) were presented to highlight the importance of ensuring a sustainable environment in the future.

 

Anunta Intra-aksorn speaking for BIGTrees Project

Madeleine encouraged PATA to rethink what is good soil by showing staff the difference between dead and living soil through touch and smell. Good (living) soil allows the healthy growth of produce. Sharing her own experiences, Madeleine emphasized that it doesn’t require a lot of effort and time to produce soil through composting – even when living in a small apartment or condo. Simple actions and rethinking diet towards healthier eating can lead to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Sharing knowledge

Using recycled plant pots, workshop participants were given the opportunity to seed and plant using homemade soil provided by Anunta and Madeleine.

PATA staff learning about planting

 

Getting dirty!

 

PATA staff seeded cucumber in a recycled egg container

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Credit: Shutterstock

 

A sustainable trip starts at home. When preparing for your next trip, keep these basic travel tips in mind.

 

Flying

Pay attention to your carbon footprint when booking your flight. Some airlines emit more carbon dioxide than others. It’s possible for you to pay a little more to ‘offset’ the carbon dioxide or simply select the trip with the shortest flight time. The less time spent in the air improves your personal contribution to a cleaner environment.  

 

Pack light

Only pack the essentials. Do you really need that extra pair of shoes? More weight means more carbon emissions – and possible excess baggage charges that hit you where it really hurts.

 

Travel closer to home

Remember that there are places closer to home that are just as beautiful and interesting. Staying local benefits your local community and environment. Travelling by train or bus instead of a plane means you are emitting up to 50 percent less carbon dioxide in some cases.

 

Accommodation

Check for evidence of sustainability or eco-certification when making your reservation(s). When hotels or resorts have a proven track record in terms of environmental care and eco-management they will likely promote these features to catch your eye.

Here is a link to help you find some green hotels.

 

Products

Take your own toiletries and avoid using the in-room shampoos and shower gels provided in miniature plastic containers.

Some sunscreens may be harmful to people and the planet.

 

EQ offers organic lifestyle products including sunscreen that are respectful to marine life.

 

Smart Girls Who Surf  offers a line of sunscreen products for body, face and lips. Take your own reusable products, such as bags, tumblers and even chopsticks.

 

Read more about being a responsible traveller in the PATA s Responsible Business Travel Guidelines.

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by Marta Mills (@oneplanetblog), Stakeholder Engagement and Communications Director, Transcaucasian Trail Association


According to UNWTO, tourism’s role in the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development is to promote inclusiveness: inclusive sustainable economic growth, social inclusiveness, diversity, mutual understanding. The word “inclusive” appears in five Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet one thing that was clearly missing from the ITB’s “Sustainable Tourism Program 2017” was inclusiveness.

ITB Berlin (held 8-11 March) is “the world’s leading travel trade show” with over 10,000 exhibitors from over 180 countries, and over 160,000 participants. The three-day-long Sustainable Tourism Program of seminars, workshops, panel discussions and award ceremonies included over 200 speakers on 12 different stages in seven halls. However, the programme lacked speakers from the southern hemisphere; it showed race, nationality and gender imbalance amongst panellists; and lacked the Responsible Tourism (RT) practitioners during debates on big stages as if RT was not part of the “proper” tourism industry. I found it quite puzzling and questionable, particularly now in the Year of Sustainable Tourism.

There were some very inspiring and insightful sessions I am going to refer to later on, but I will start with the challenges that should be addressed in planning next ITB.

Nationality, race and gender imbalance while discussing sustainability in tourism

Nationality, race and gender imbalance while discussing sustainability in tourism

 

My ITB hats

I attended ITB wearing two hats – a sustainable tourism practitioner and a MSc student of Responsible Tourism Management. With a background in sustainability communications, I work on developing sustainable tourism in the Caucasus region through the Transcaucasian Trail project. I study how to implement responsible business practices for the benefit of communities and the environment in destinations. I was therefore keen to hear the latest news, trends and practical solutions in sustainable destinations management and in maximising the positive impacts of tourism globally. And anything related to trails, understandably.

Morning queue outside the venue: 160,000 people from over 180 countries attend ITB Berlin each year

Morning queue outside the venue: 160,000 people from over 180 countries attend ITB Berlin each year

The programme and the venue – first obstacles

The first ITB challenge, even before going to Berlin, was to go through the 27-page-long (!) CSR programme, pick the sessions of most interest, and work out whether it is actually possible to get from one to the other (often held in different halls on different floors) on time. The venue is huge – there is a shuttle bus cruising between 28 exhibition halls!

It is pretty time-consuming to work out what sessions happen simultaneously, and the app doesn’t allow to put “my favourites” in order either. I ended up making a spreadsheet of my timetable to work it out and wondering why this can be simplified. Perhaps the ITB could make it easier next year and run a scheduled timetable of all sessions so we could see at a glance who, when and where is speaking?

But these are technical issues that can be easily resolved. I believe that the lack of inclusiveness I referred to above is much more serious. Here are the challenges mentioned in the introduction:

 

  • Nationality/race imbalance:

Vicky Smith of Earth Changers, a RT practitioner and the ITB veteran, made a point that “although held in Germany, ITB is the international show, and therefore has more of an opportunity to showcase international players, start-ups and initiatives on its stages in order to represent the worldwide perspective.” And the worldwide perspective doesn’t only come from the European, white middle-aged men in suits. Particularly during debates on sustainable tourism.

I believe that at such an international show there should be a better representation of speakers from developing countries. The practitioners on the ground in destinations are not given the chance to participate effectively. The ones with hands on experience and often have a much better practical understanding of various sustainability issues than CEOs of companies based in Germany.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for inclusive participatory processes from designing change to implementation of good practices. Without “southern” speakers taking part in global discussions we are not addressing the sustainability of tourism. One of those small handful of “southern” speakers, the Founder of the Gambian Institute of Travel and Tourism Adama Bah, told me that “the purpose of the global discussion is to raise awareness so that the industry will take responsibility of making tourism sustainable. Without hearing from “southern voices” where most negative impacts of tourism do happen, educative global discussions defeat their purposes to make tourism sustainable.”

 

  • Gender imbalance

And speaking of other imbalances… One of the most-attended debates on “How Can Sustainable Travel Offers Be Marketed Successfully?” was led by seven white men on stage. Six Germans and one English. I tweeted ITB asking whether it was really that hard to find at least one woman who knows how to communicate sustainability (didn’t get a reply). Some other tweets about “the glass ceiling in tourism” followed. A quick glance at the small presentation offer in hall 4.1 (dedicated to Responsible Tourism) would have provided a few names of women professionals to choose from. Again, something to consider for next year.

I understand that by supporting various sustainability awards, the ITB demonstrates its commitment to sustainable development and gender equality. And there were women on other panels (although just over 30% – 38 women compared to 115 men speaking on the big stages). But it was quite ironic that a major session on sustainability has forgotten about respecting SDG 5 – Gender Equality.

Interestingly, at the very end of the session, the moderator apologised that “there are all gentlemen up here” on the panel. Considering how much applause that comment got, I clearly wasn’t the only one feeling disappointed.

 

  • (not) knowing your audience

Sometime I also felt that some speakers were not aware who the audience was. While I understand that the level of knowledge of sustainable tourism in the audience varied, I also believe that it is safe to assume that most of us in hall 4.1 (Responsible Tourism hall) knew a fair bit. There was still a lot of vague language from the business representatives, particularly the more senior executives of big companies, for example “we are working to build more capacity and improve sustainability of our operations”. This sounds great, however doesn’t provide any meaningful information nor any clear examples of what exactly the operator did to “build capacity” and what exactly “improving sustainability” meant.

Also, we already are “the converted.” We know that – to quote a few panellists – “everyone has to take part,” “it is our shared responsibility,” “we need to accelerate in sustainable product offer” or “make the message about sustainability more visible.” I didn’t come all the way to Berlin to listen to such old and vague slogans. I came to listen and learn how others actually do it, what works and what doesn’t, how I can get involved in a practical way. And, as many sessions have proven again, the best advice will always come from those who work on the ground, who have tried various approaches, who have made mistakes and are happy to share them, so we can all learn together.

Practical overview and lessons learn from the Jordan Trail Association – an insightful, fun and informative session led by practitioners on the ground

Practical overview and lessons learn from the Jordan Trail Association – an insightful, fun and informative session led by practitioners on the ground

 

  • Not enough awareness

However, these messages are important and should be repeated to the ones who are not converted and who need a constant reminder about the importance and role of sustainability in tourism – and that’s why I would also argue for including more RT speakers in the wider programme of ITB Convention. The whole industry needs to transform to minimise its negative impacts. The ITB mentions that “additional panels dedicated to ecological and social responsibility can also increasingly be found e.g. at the ITB Destination Days, but it should do much more to mainstream sustainable tourism.

For example, “ITB Young Professionals day” discussed which graduates will the industry need in the future. That could have been an excellent opportunity to raise awareness and repeat the messages about sustainable tourism. Or the big debate on “World Tourism Trends.” or “Success Factors for Nation and Place Branding” – giving RT practitioners space on the panels would have demonstrated that sustainable tourism is one of the big trends and brings competitive advantage when it comes to successful branding. And, overall, contribute to raising awareness amongst the wider industry. 

 

But…

I found the events on smaller stages much more informative, useful, practical, and engaging. Most presenters used their 30 min-slot very well – a short summary of the project/issue, how the issues are being dealt with, lessons learnt, time for questions. I immensely enjoyed the session on the Jordan Trail on the big stage of hall 4.1 on Friday 11th – three women panellists, all of them working on the ground in Jordan, representing the business and government stakeholders. Giving that practical overview with challenges and opportunities I was craving for. Similarly, an engaging session on community-based tourism in Myanmar, with a step by step guidance on how to develop tourism in emerging destinations. Both of them proved my point – ITB needs an international representation of hands-on practitioners to share the potential and best practice examples of sustainable tourism.

Peter Richards, Expert on Community Tourism Development and Market Access during a practical and engaging session on tourism development in Kayah State, Myanmar

Peter Richards, Expert on Community Tourism Development and Market Access during a practical and engaging session on tourism development in Kayah State, Myanmar

 

ITB 2018

Matthias Beyer, the moderator of the aforementioned all-men-in-suits panel, noted that his panel in terms of gender balance doesn’t reflect the reality of the industry, emphasizing that for the future, it is imperative to find a better gender composition for such panels. Such an approach is much needed and gives me hope that at future ITBs the number of women and intentional speakers will match the number of white men in suits.

 

Note: ITB Messe-Berlin was unavailable for comment.

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Social InclusionTom Steyer and Van Jones talk about the importance of building coalitions when crafting sustainability solutions at VERGE 15.

Solar panels that only the rich can afford. Urban bike-share programs that limit participation to those using credit cards. Pricey organic grocery stores for communities where many people rely on SNAP benefits. No matter how well-intentioned, if a solution isn’t appropriate for part of the population, then it is not truly a sustainable solution. Please visit this link to read more on the importance of including people to improve sustainability.

By Sureya Melkonian

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‘Forest cities’: the radical plan to save China from air pollution

Categories: Asia, Infrastructure, Planet, Recommended Reading, Southeast
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Stefano Boeri, the architect famous for his plant-covered skyscrapers, has designs to create entire new green settlements in a nation plagued by dirty air

An artist’s impression of Liuzhou’s plans for a ‘Forest City’

An artist’s impression of Liuzhou’s plans for a ‘Forest City’

When Stefano Boeri imagines the future of urban China he sees green, and lots of it. Office blocks, homes and hotels decked from top to toe in a verdant blaze of shrubbery and plant life; a breath of fresh air for metropolises that are choking on a toxic diet of fumes and dust.

Last week, the Italian architect, famed for his tree-clad Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) skyscraper complex in Milan, unveiled plans for a similar project in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing. By Tom Phillips, The Guardian. Find the original article here.

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The paperless kitchen challenge

Categories: Green Tips, Planet
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The paperless kitchen challenge

Have you ever considered the potential positive impact to the environment and to your pocket of a paperless kitchen? We all use paper towels for cleaning up those little culinary mishaps; we use paper napkins at the dining table, and many of us carry our snacks to work in paper bags.

Take up the challenge of going paperless in your kitchen.

Why have a paperless kitchen?

Most paper towels cannot be recycled. Many are made of recycled paper and the fibres are at the end of their life cycle. Used paper towels also harbour bacteria and this not only raises concerns about hygiene but could also damage, potentially, other perfectly recyclable materials.

N.B. : Used paper towels, napkins and tissues are compostable

Adopting a paperless kitchen is a simple switch to reduce your kitchen waste and paper costs!

Making the switch

Getting started can be a challenge – but in developing this positive approach you can make a huge difference to your lifestyle.

Top tips:

Photo credit: The Linen Works

Photo credit: The Linen Works

1. Set a timeline

A slow yet steady transition is the best course. Remember to use a cloth whenever possible and you can gradually reduce the dependence on paper towels. Set yourself a deadline for dispensing totally with the paper alternatives!

2. Buy natural-fibre fabric

Invest in new towels and napkins before you run out of paper napkins and paper. Choose eco-friendly natural-fibres for your napkins, dish towels or hand towels whenever possible. Browse sites such as PaperlessKitchen.com to find your perfect natural cleaning cloths.

3. Replace paper towels with reusable rags

Look around your house for items such as old bathroom hand towels and cotton t-shirts. Cut them into manageable sizes for use around your home. Learn how to turn old t-shirts into rags.

4. Develop a system that works for your kitchen

Make the switch to a paperless kitchen easy to implement. For example, use colour coding for all your cloths in the kitchen and bathroom. When your whole family is on board, going paperless is possible.shutterstock_308344490

Check out these useful links:

•   Clever Ways to Store Your Kitchen Linens

•   Declutter Kitchen Towels & Dish Cloths

5. Laundry

Worried about the extra laundry? Soak the cloths in warm water with baking soda or vinegar to remove any grease before washing and rinsing as normal.

Being paper-free in your kitchen can be a challenge. It needs dedication and commitment and it does require a little extra work – the rewards are found in the cost savings and the benefits to our environment.

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