As you might imagine, I get a lot of announcements from various businesses touting their “green” products and services, or their environmental advocacy. In some cases, I’m underwhelmed by what I see; in others, I find evidence that some companies, large and small, are clearly “getting it” in terms of linking sustainability goals to there work. When I first received an announcement from Travellerspoint, a Norway-based social networking site for travelers, I feared I was looking at a case of the former. After exchanging pleasant emails with links manager Eric Daams, I was pleased to find out that the company’s decision to donate profits from the sale of its 2007 calendar to Green WiFi, an organization that “…provides solar powered internet access and communications to communities in developing areas where electric power is nonexistent or unreliable,” wasn’t just a case of grasping at green PR, but an effort to assess the impact of the travel industry, and to make a gesture in recognition of this impact. According to Eric,
We are aware that travel is not usually something that is considered ‘environmentally friendly’, but we try to encourage sustainable practices when we can. Discussions about the adverse effects of travel on the environment are pretty common (for an example, take a look at this discussion thread). In a lot of ways this project was chosen as a result of that increased understanding. Perhaps more importantly, members from our site who have visited developing countries are embracing this cause because they have a know how useful the project (and technology) can be.
As a company we ensure our own practices are as sustainable as possible. Can’t really say that we are an ‘environmental’ company – we’re just a regular company with a growing environmental conscience.
I was impressed by Eric’s response because he didn’t try to blow smoke — they’re in the process of “getting it,” and that’s a good thing. Judging from the photos on the website, the calendar is gorgeous — the photos were chosen by a vote of Travellerspoint members. Travel is still a perplexing industry in terms of environmental impact (I’m still thinking about George Monbiot’s criticism in his new book Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning), so I’m encouraged to see a company like Travellerspoint responding to these concerns.
And, Brian… still plan to buy my offsets for last week’s travel — thanks for reminding me!