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Being a sustainable traveller means also making a conscious decision about your fashion choices. Your sustainable fashion statement will surely leave a positive impact on the places you visit.

Studies have shown that people are willing to pay more in the name of sustainability and ethical fashion; therefore, it would be wise for companies to think in terms of the triple bottom line. Here are some tips on how you can make a difference by engaging in sustainable fashion.

  1. Get yourself an experience:

When visiting culturally rich countries with exquisite local crafts, why not go one step further and visit the artisans themselves. This way, you gain an authentic experience with the locals and some great memories too.

  1. Demand transparency:

Many big-name brands may claim to be sustainable, but it might be a facade to attract more customers. One of the ways you can check whether a company is serious about sustainability or not, is by visiting their website and having a look at their policies.

A transparent supply-chain is another good sign. If a company does not explicitly list its suppliers, you can send them an inquiry yourself. Getting a response is an indicator that, at the very least, they care about their customers. The complexity of supply-chains makes it difficult to assess companies and their ethical sourcing practices.

You can browse The Good Shopping Guide and Oxfam’s Naughty or Nice List to see where certain brands lie in terms of transparency and sustainability.

  1. Look for accreditation

Look for these certifications and labels to induce whether or not your item of clothing qualifies as ethical fashion.

  1. Don’t fall so fast:

Fast fashion is a phenomenon sweeping the globe. Many brands produce clothes that are meant to be discarded quickly. This is adding to the problem of pollution, not just due to clothing that ends up in landfill, but also because of the wasted resources used to make these clothes. In fact, the fashion industry is the second largest contributor to our planet’s pollution plight. Clothes should be a long-term investment. Support companies and brands that understand and address the issue of fast fashion.

So it all boils down to this: go the extra mile, do the research and make an effort to choose what’s right because your decisions have the power to instigate change.

Further reading:

Factory Girls, by Leslie T. Chang

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, by Elizabeth L. Cline

Read more on how you can be a sustainable traveller by packing eco-friendly travel essentials.

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Credit: Shutterstock

Guest blogger Jackie Edwards gives tips for sustainable hair and skincare when traveling:

The tide of sustainable travel is rising in Asia, thanks to savvy hoteliers who are in tune with the modern traveler’s wishes to experience the beauty of the world without leaving a huge carbon footprint. Sustainability involves everything from water recycling right through to activities such as tree planting or beach clean-ups. Conscientious travelers are taking it a step further by ensuring their skin and beauty routines are not polluting waterways or using environmentally harmful packaging. In this post, we highlight just a few ways that beauty and sustainability during don’t have to be mutually exclusive concepts when traveling.

Packaging and content of personal care items

When buying creams and serums to take along with you on your trip, ensure that as many products as possible come in biodegradable, compostable or plantable packaging and that they don’t contain chemical ingredients that are harmful to you and the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified personal care products and pharmaceuticals as “emerging contaminants of concern” for fish. These chemicals can lead to various diseases in sea life, which are in turn consumed by other animals up the food chain. Do your share for the environment when shopping for personal care items abroad by avoiding products containing toxic ingredients, some of the most common of which include phthalates, sulfates, and parabens.

Opting for a natural look

Those with long, multi-ethnic hair can choose a perm over natural hair as a way to reduce the need for styling while traveling the globe. While styling curly hair can be more challenging than ‘relaxed’ hair, perms can affect our health and the environment, as toxic chemicals used in these treatments can once again make their way into our water system, affecting fish and other marine life.

One study by Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) found that long-term exposure to products commonly used in hair salons leads to a plethora of negative health conditions frequently faced by salon workers.

Styling curly hair and having beautifully defined curls is easy. It requires two main things: deep moisturization, and a hair diffuser, which is used to give curls an extra bounce. Forego shampooing and use a conditioner instead. While conditioning hair in the shower, add a little olive, coconut, or argan oil and rinse out afterward. For an extra moisture boost, add a bit more oil, comb hair out and voila! You won’t even need to dry your hair afterward.

For makeup, try replacing your favorite commercial brands with mineral makeup brands, which possess beautiful textures and long-lasting power, much like best-selling brands.

DIY beauty

You can make a plethora of travel products yourself and if you use fragrant essential oils, we guarantee you will become hooked on the quality of what you produce. Think exfoliants made by mixing coconut oil with rock salt or sugar, or homemade deodorant made by blending a tablespoon of shea butter, a teaspoon of baking powder and few drops of an essential oil like lemon or bergamot. Think of how much plastic you will be saving by foregoing store-bought versions.

Reuse and recycle

Do you remove makeup with disposable wipes? There is no need to do so when you can do a much better job with a piece of cloth (cut up into squares) and a dab of micellar water, which removes even the toughest makeup products.

To remain beautiful while on the go, try to balance practicality and rapidity with mindful use of resources. Reuse materials when you can, make your own products to go, and support brands that care for the environment and support the causes that mean something to you.

 

Interested in learning more about DIY beauty? Find out how to use coffee grounds in your beauty routine. We’ve also got some great tips on eco-friendly travel essentials for you 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.

See more of Jackie’s writing: 

A little closer to home: sustainable everyday life choices

A guide to sustainable travel for seniors

Beginning at home – the next generation of sustainable travelers

How to choose an eco-friendly hotel

Greening the air inside of your home

 

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Interview with Małgorzata Then, CEO, Biotrem

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email interview with Małgorzata Then, CEO, Biotrem


Q: Hi Małgorzata, nice to meet you. So tell us, what is Biotrem? What kinds of products do you offer?

A: Biotrem is a Polish technology company developing an innovative production process of bio-based tableware and packaging. The patented technology allows us to manufacture a biodegradable disposable tableware from sustainable organic raw materials, such as wheat bran, corn bran, cassava by-products, seaweed or even algae.

Biotrem’s main product line is fully biodegradable disposable tableware produced from the compressed wheat bran. Our offer also includes cutlery made from a mix of PLA bioplastic and wheat bran.

Q: How did this idea come about?

A: Our unique production process was invented almost two decades ago by Mr. Jerzy Wysocki, whose family’s milling traditions date back to the beginning of the twentieth century. Mr. Wysocki was researching a better application for wheat bran, a by-product in the grain milling process, other than animal feed or compost. His research resulted in the production process fuelling today’s Biotrem production plant.

 

Q: Does food taste different when it’s on Biotrem tableware?

A: Our tableware, made out of compressed natural wheat bran, is perfect for serving hot and cold dishes. In case of longer contact with liquid meals – especially with hot soups – the smell or taste of bran may slightly penetrate the meal, but it’s not an unpleasant feeling. It reminds me of freshly baked bread.

Q: How is Biotrem more environmentally friendly than the alternative? How is Biotrem a solution to our waste problem?

A: Disposable products, made from wheat bran, are an excellent alternative to most of disposable tableware, i.e. made from plastic or paper, the production of which has a heavy and negative impact on the environment.

From 1 ton of pure, edible wheat bran – which is a by-product in the grain milling process – we can produce around 10,000 plates or bowls. What’s more important, our products are fully biodegradable and compostable within just 30 days.

Q: What about costs? Why should I buy Biotrem vs. other alternatives?

A: Actually, price-wise our products are on the same level as most of other bio-based disposable products. We should be aware that many of so-called eco-products is fact aren’t so much environmentally friendly. In many cases the organic material they are made out of requires processing involving large amounts of water, chemicals and energy.

The beauty of our innovative production process lies in the fact that it enables the use of unprocessed organic material, most often by-products in the agricultural or food industry.

 

Q: How can we tell the difference between your products and those that aren’t processed in an environmentally friendly way?

Well, being a conscious consumer requires some ­– at least – basic knowledge about how things are made and what are they made of. It really helps you make good and responsible choices.

Let’s take a paper cup as an example. You could say that since it’s made out of paper – an organic material that is biodegradable – it probably is an environmentally friendly product. or at least less harmful that a plastic cup. But then you must realize that paper is made out of trees; that the paper industry utilizes huge amounts of water, chemicals and energy; that a paper cup or plate can’t be made out of recycled paper – it always must be a fresh, clean paper; that a cup or a plate used to serve food can’t be recycled; and finally, that a paper cup or plate is able to withstand liquids because its surface is coated with a thin plastic or wax film, which makes it hardly recyclable or biodegradable.

As a responsible company, we commissioned an independent institute to conduct the Life-Cycle Assessment study for our products, which, among other things, proved that one (1) kilogram of wheat bran product generates in total – considering the whole wheat cultivation process, transportation, processing and utilisation – around 1.3 kg of CO2, meanwhile the functionally comparable mass of widely used polystyrene disposable plates or cups generates in total around 8.5 kg of CO2.

A comparative study of the impact on the environment, human life and natural resources is unequivocally in favour of the wheat bran product – for most categories the result is about 60% lower than for plastic-based products. That is a huge difference.

Q: What markets is Biotrem in currently? How do you aim to expand?

A: So far Biotrem has managed to build an effective distribution network across the Europe. Currently, we are expanding our sales and distribution on other continents – North and South Americas, Asia, Australia, Africa. Our business development is also supported by intense marketing and advertising campaigns.

 

Q: Who are your customers and what has been the reception from them so far? How are your products relevant to the tourism and hospitality industry?

A: So far, our largest clients are the caterers, organisers of large events, music festivals, live shows and wholesalers. The tourism and hospitality industry is also very interested in our products. We are receiving a lot of inquiries from holiday resorts, especially those located on tropical islands, where waste management is expensive and has a negative impact on the natural environment.

With the development of sales channels, supported by intense marketing campaigns, we hope to reach also end customers. We are already observing their huge interest in our products.

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There’s no reason to delay the inevitable. No more I-will-do-it-next-week’s, no more I-know-I-should-do-it’s - it’s about time to end the toxic relationship so many of us are still in. For Valentine’s Day, UN Environment is urging everyone to ‘break up’ with single-use plastic. more » Read more
Getting rid of habits and changing behaviour to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle on a personal level can be challenging. Let’s say you have noticed that you throw out a lot of food because it has gone bad before you’ve had the chance to eat it and you want to reduce the amount of food wasted in the future. more » Read more

Guest blogger Jackie Edwards gives tips for business travelers and FIT on how to make a responsible accommodation choice.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Traveling is an exciting pastime, but jetting across the globe can take its toll on the environment. Eco-conscious travelers can work to reduce their carbon footprint by looking for a sustainable hotel when booking their trip. Here are some tips on how to find eco-friendly accommodations on your next trip.

Book Near the City Center

Booking a hotel that’s within walking distance of local attractions can help tourists cut back on carbon emissions. A centrally located hotel eliminates the need to rent a car since attractions that are not nearby can often be easily reached by public transit. Some hotels offer bicycles for rent so that guests have an eco-friendly way to explore the city.

Not only is cycling and walking beneficial for the environment, but it can also help tourists to save on their trip. Renting a car can be significantly more expensive than taking public transit, and traveling by foot costs nothing at all.

Find Out About Water and Energy Usage

Guests can check out a hotel’s website or call ahead of time to see if the establishment operates using sustainable practices. Some eco-friendly hotels have made the switch to solar, wind, or geothermal power in an effort to go green, while others have started using LEDs and low energy bulbs to improve energy efficiency.

Water consumption is also a consideration when booking a green hotel. Guests should look for hotels that install fixtures such as low-flow toilets and showerheads. Some places even go so far as to collect rainwater. Hotels that boast pools and decorative fountains may not be a green choice, as they can drain water from the local environment.

Pick a Hotel that Gives Back

Eco-conscious tourists hoping for a relaxing break that is guilt-free, can find hotels in many areas that promote programs that give back to the local community, such as donation efforts, low-cost healthcare services, and nutritional assistance. Guests can also look for hotels that hire from within the local community to help support neighborhood families.

A hotel’s menu can also have an impact on the surrounding community. Locally sourced menus not only support local farmers but also reduces emissions from packaging and transportation. Guests get to enjoy fresh, home-cooked meals while knowing that they’re helping to make a difference.

Before booking your next vacation, take some time to research your hotel. Conscientious tourists can find eco-friendly hotels that help to preserve the environment and support their local community.

There are several online booking engines that can help you find a sustainable option on your travels:

 

See more of Jackie’s writing: 

A little closer to home: sustainable everyday life choices

A guide to sustainable travel for seniors

Beginning at home – the next generation of sustainable travelers

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Masaru Takayama: A Stronger Asian Ecotourism Network for 2018

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Masaru Takayama, Chair, AEN

Masaru Takayama, Chair and Founder of the Asian Ecotourism Network, speaks to Gaia Discovery’s Mallika Naguran of his plans for 2018 and in shaping a stronger association that promotes responsible tourism in Asia. 

The Asian Ecotourism Network was formed in June 2015 out of exceptional circumstances. At that time, the original board members of The International Ecotourism Society or TIES had resigned from it and formed the Global Ecotourism Network (GEN) instead. Four GEN board members residing in Asia including Masaru Takayama went on to form the regional Asian Ecotourism Network, or AEN.

Read more.

By Mallika Naguran, Publisher and Managing Editor, Gaia Discovery and Gaia Guide

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Come on baby, do the local-motion

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Photo credit: Shutterstock

Whether as a tourist or a tour company, your dollar can go along way. Economic pressure is real, and supporting local businesses has numerous benefits. Supporting local prevents leakage, promotes community, and will give you a higher quality product.

 

Here are some ways you can support local and “tread lightly” on the road:

  1. Purchase tours from local businesses. They will have the most in-depth insights about local tours, insider information about events and community happenings, and of course the best stories to share!

 

  1. Shop local. Buying a local souvenir is something unique you can bring home as a reminder of your trip, so be sure to check the country of origin of your souvenir. Why go to Nepal to purchase something that was made in mass and shipped from China?

 

If visiting a local community based tourism enterprise, supporting their handcrafts is not only supporting their local economy, it is also promoting the local culture! Tour operators – consider adding a community tourism visit to your itinerary for a truly unique experience!

 

Feel free to contact us for more info.

 

  1. Eat local, or include local restaurants. Local eateries will feature fresh flavours that are special to a place. When in Rome, eat lots of pecorino Romano cheese!

 

  1. Leave an impact. If you would like to “do good” during your travels and are considering volunteering or making a donation, first check with a local NGO where your dollar will make the most impact.

 

If you are volunteering or arranging a volunteer gig, please do your research! Here are a couple of links to get you started:

 

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Gardeners of Eden

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Photo credit: Kristin Davis/Village Beat

The images are stark and grisly at the start of the short but bluntly powerful documentary “Gardeners of Eden”: Television news footage presents the bloody carcasses of elephants, shorn of their tusks, that are sold in the illegal ivory trade. And soon we are taken to Tsavo National Park in Kenya, the front line of the elephant slaughter in Africa, which is losing its population of these majestic mammals at an alarming rate. The film follows the efforts of Daphne Sheldrick, 80, of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which raises orphaned elephant calves and reintroduces them into the wild. And it accompanies members of the trust and armed Kenya Wildlife Service officers as they search for poachers and treat elephants wounded by wires planted to cripple herds.

Read the full New York Times movie review by Andy Webster, ‘Gardeners of Eden’ Tracks the Killing of Elephants for Ivory here.

Official Trailer: Gardeners of Eden from Village Beat on Vimeo.

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Interview with Javad Hatami, CMO & Co-founder, Optishower

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email interview with Javad Hatami, CMO & Co-founder, Optishower

1.    In 2-3 sentences, what is your product, what does it do? What is your elevator pitch?

Optishower integrated solution helps hotels achieve operational excellence, decrease water and electricity consumption, and ensure the highest levels of guest satisfaction. We use IoT-based smart sensors to monitor water and electricity in buildings; engage and motivate guest to reduce the utility consumption by gamification techniques.

2.    Where did your inspiration for this idea come from? 

It was started from a friendly discussion between two co-founders.  Me and Mohamamdhossein, very close friend of mine and the co-founder of Optishower, were both avid travelers. We’ve been to many countries and usually we stayed in hotels during our travels. The idea came from the observation about high levels of water that was wasted in bathrooms and once someone enters a hotel they usually don’t care about the consumption. We found that 1) guests don’t know about their consumption and 2) they don’t know how they can help environment and avoid unnecessary consumption, 3) and most importantly, they don’t have any incentive to do so.  We found there is not any tailored solution for hospitality sector to tackle these challenges. It was the begging of our journey to create Optishower.

 

3.    Why should hotels be interested? 

Our solution could benefits hotels in 3 different ways:

1)      Optishower technology supports hotels to benchmark the current status of their buildings in terms of consumption and find out any bottlenecks to implement more efficient and sustainable technologies. Optishower could also help hotels to achieve their Corporate Social Responsibility goals in terms of Sustainable Responsible Operations.

2)      Finding leakages in big buildings is hard and time consuming. Our technology can detect any leakage in water pipes and abnormalities in electrical system of building, thus it saves money and time for hoteliers to avoid any damages and losses.

3)       Optishower platform connects guests to their consumption. We use gamification techniques to engage guests with their water and electricity consumption in-room. Therefore, this technology could be used as a new feature to transform in-room guest experience. Moreover, reduction in utility consumption leads to increase in profit margins of hotels.

 

4.    What are some of the initial results you are seeing?

Once our technology is implemented, it can provide lots of data and insights about status of consumption in hotels. Our technology makes utility consumption visible and easily understandable. The recent result from our pilot test in Marriott Amsterdam demonstrated that if guests know about their consumption, they were more conscious and could make more smart choice of water and electricity usage in rooms. We found behavior change is a key component to leverage sustainability status in hotels.

 

5.    What is your vision for this technology/app? What does success look like to you?

Our aim is consumption behavior change through user engagement. We aim to provide data and insight to hotel guests mixed with gamification techniques, so they can make better and smarter consumption decisions.  On the other hand, we aim to provide a platform that makes life easier and more convenient for hoteliers. We are envisioning a system that is an integral part of each hotel and provides visibility on all corners of water and electricity consumption in the hotel. Success for us means developing a solution that makes the lives of hotel guests easier and more comfortable, and provides new and seamless experiences that also positively contributes to environment.

 

6.    What is the role of tech in sustainability for the hospitality industry? 

Technology plays an important role in achieving sustainability goals in hospitality. New technologies that help hotels’ business become resource efficient can both create a competitive cost advantage and further reinforce brand focus on sustainability at the same time. This investment can be profitable and resonate the brand in the heart of customers. For example, new technologies that drives environmentally friendly atmosphere can have positive impact on guest experience. At the end of day, what the guest feels and thinks about the hotel experience leaves an impression with the guest that has a direct impact on occupancy and ADR.

 

7.    What have been your biggest challenges?

As a tech start up that wanted to disrupt travel and hospitality sector, our main challenge was to understand the major pain in the hospitality sector and to craft an innovative and wining solution for that. We looked to the hospitality sector and found that sustainability is still a luxury word; everyone talks about it, but nobody wants to implement it. We looked to the current solutions that exist and found that most, if not all, of them are technology-based and lack active end-user engagement. It took some time for us to find a way to connect tech with social and economic behavior strategies to craft a specific solution that deals with sustainability challenges in the hospitality sector.

 

8.    What is your prediction for the future of hotels, particularly in terms of sustainability and guest engagement? 

There is a visible trend in the travel and hospitality market that guests prefer sustainable tourism as a requirement in their travel. Personalization also would be a key component of future hotel service. The hotel of the future offers new and diverse experiences that can evolve with the guest. If you want to have a hotel that is sustainable and provides personalized service, you need clear engagement with your guest regarding your sustainability activities. I believe tech and behavior science are helping at that stage to provide innovative solutions that transform the guest experience. Hotels of the future would integrate sustainability as their core elements from hotel design to operation, therefore technology will bring innovative environmentally-friendly solutions to provide seamless experiences for guests in the future.

 

9.    In your opinion, what should the sustainable guest experience look like? 

I believe the trend in the travel industry where sustainability is an important concern is increasing. There are statistics and surveys demonstrating that more and more guests are booking green and eco-friendly hotels.  Sustainable design offers such travelers a place where they can feel comfortable spending their time and money. These environmentally conscious travelers likely expect sustainability efforts in the design of rooms, reducing waste, saving water and promoting green activities in operation, energy-efficient appliances, recycling programs and gluten-free meals, at the very least. Recent advances in technology made it possible to re-design hotels according to green practices. Hospitality is always about experience and connecting people. Environment influences behavior and mindset, and guests are sensitive to small things in their surrounding that change their mood. For example, rooms with new designs that enjoy lots of natural sunlight is more likely to be perceived as energizing and inspiring. To offer a sustainable guest experience, hoteliers should think about innovative ideas that combines suitability with new experiences. As an example, lamps that are energy efficient yet offers a relaxing environment for guests would create a memorable and authentic experience for guests during their stay in a hotel.

10. Anything else you’d like the reader to know about yourself or Optishower? 

Optishower is a Portuguese brand offering an innovative platform for the hospitality sector with a very disrupting idea that incorporates elements from tech to social behavior. As a young tech start up in the travel industry, we believe proactive engagement of guests is a key to achieve sustainability in the hospitality sector. Recently, our disruptive idea has grabbed the attention of Marriott hotels and we have been selected from around 150 applicants from 24 countries to pilot our technology, as part of Marriott test bed acceleration program, in Marriott Amsterdam.

 

 

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