Tag Archives: Environment

Being a Responsible Traveller: Gift Giving Abroad

As part of our commitment to responsible travel we ask that the participants of our adventures do not give gifts to the communities that they visit, or to the individuals they encounter.

We know what you’re thinking…why? What’s wrong with giving a small gift?

The act of gift giving and donating is a tricky one. It’s a universal practice not bounded by barriers of language or culture so we assume it is a great way to show our appreciation or to help someone in need. But even the most well-intended gifts or donations present some complex issues. These include donating to beggars or those living on the street, giving to children and making donations directly to the communities you may visit.

This is because gift-giving can:

  • Entice children and their families to beg when they should be receiving an education or seeking work.
  • Encourage an unreliable dependence on tourism.
  • Create tension if there is an uneven distribution of gifts within a community.
  • May cause cultural misunderstandings that all visitors give gifts.

You might think you are helping someone in need but sadly, these kind of small gifts rarely result in any significant improvement in these people’s lives. We want to make sure we are doing our best to be socially responsible – both as travellers and as global citizens.  

If you are thinking about gift giving on your adventure, consider these things first;

Consider your motives.

For what reason are you giving? Travelling to less-developed countries can be a confronting experience, especially if you haven’t travelled to regions like it before. The short amount of happiness afforded by giving a gift does not erase the potentially harmful consequences.

It’s okay to give to people who provide a service for you.

Tipping is a common practice all over the world and is an appropriate way to show your appreciation and to give back to the local community. For example, this might include gifting your unwanted clothing or trekking equipment to porters and guides. We also suggest combining tips as a group to ensure they are more evenly distributed.

Give donations directly to community leaders.

It’s more appropriate for any goods to be distributed by locals, rather than by tourists. Once again, this helps to make sure they are distributed fairly. This might be the case if local communities request resources such as pens or books for schools.

Make a donation to a reputable NGO or foundation.

The best way to responsibly donate or gift give is via a reputable source who can assist in the sustainable distribution of your donation. They will consider the broader impact of your donation in order to empower local communities in the long-run.

Discuss any concerns with your local guide.

If at any point you have concerns about giving gifts, discuss it with your local guide. They will be able to give you the advice you need to give back to the local community in the most ethical way possible.

Check out the upcoming adventures on our calendar!

Sustainable Clothing vs. Fast Fashion: Why You Should Care

Now more than ever, there is a fluorescent light being shed on the fashion industry and its thumbs-down impact it has on our beloved planet and people. While oil still remains the most polluting industry in the world, the fashion industry comes in at a close second. The reason for this comes down to two crippling words: fast fashion.

Sure, the low price points associated with fast fashion can be tempting for any consumer, but the overall price of fast fashion is wreaking havoc on our world, in more ways than one.


According to a recent study conducted by Greenpeace, around 400 billion square meters of textiles are produced every year, of which 60 billion meters are left as waste on the cutting room floor.  80 billion pieces of clothing are produced worldwide, and 3 out of 4 of those pieces will end up in landfill or be incarcerated. Unfortunately, only one quarter will be recycled.

Water Consumption and Pollution

Water scarcity affects more than one billion people on a global scale and every drop of water should be precious. Disturbingly, just one pair of jeans requires 7,000 litres of water to produce, and 2 billion pairs are being manufactured every year.

A whopping 2,700 litres of water is used to make just one t-shirt… that’s the amount of water one average human will consume over 900 days!

And what about water pollution? Beyond a garment’s vibrant print, statement embellishments and glistening finish lies countless toxic chemicals. After agriculture, textile dyeing is the world’s second biggest polluter of clean water. 1.7 million tonnes of mixed chemicals are used in garment production – most notably, dangerous chemicals like PFCs, leaving a detrimental and lasting impact on our environment.

The People

A 2016 Oxfam report revealed more than 60 million people work in the garment industry to churn out cheap, replicated clothing. More than 15 million of those people are based in Asia and over 80% are female, underage and from poorer, rural regions. They work unbearably long hours and earn as little as 39 cents an hour to produce garments sold to fast fashion giants, for mere cents apiece. Their less-than-fair wages do not even cover basic living costs, like food and accommodation.

How You Can Help

The inconvenient truths about fast fashion, our endangered planet and unethical industry practices have finally emerged from under the rug, and are gaining media attention and becoming topics of conversation around the world.

New, informed and sustainable fashion labels are emerging every day and ethical fashion is starting to thrive. Pre-existing brands are joining the sustainable wagon to reduce their carbon footprint and improve social conditions, and more people are donating their clothing.

There are simple steps you can also take to help make a positive change to the fashion industry. If more people boycott fast fashion, there will be less of a market for it.

  • Invest in environmentally friendly materials. Learn more here.
  • Download Good on You – a conscious shopping app providing ratings on fashion brands based on their ethical, environmental and social impact.
  • Support ECA-accredited brands and encourage other brands to get accredited.
  • Shop at op shops and markets – one person’s trash is another person’s treasure after all.
  • Recycle, repurpose and buy garments on buy/swap/sell websites and on Etsy.
  • Learn to DIY or turn your old clothes into something new by altering them.
  • Shop sustainable brands! Well Made Clothes is a great online marketplace for local, sustainable and fair trade brands.

*The facts and statistics in this article were sourced from Greenpeace, Oxfam and Solidarity Center.

Feeling inspired?

Check out the upcoming challenges on our calendar!

Celebrating Earth Day around the world

Celebrating Earth Day

In case you missed it, just last week people all over the world were ‘Marching for Science’ to celebrate the 37th Earth Day. You may not know it, but the first Earth Day occurred on April 22nd in 1970 and brought 20 million Americans together for one common cause—the environment!

Earth Day was originally started by Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin Senator who had spent 7 years in the Senate pushing for reform on environmental policy with little to no luck. Inspired by campus activism in the 60’s, Gaylord proposed a nationwide teach-in across the US to be held not only on university campuses, but in community centres, primary schools, and high schools. His committee helped provide information and support for organisers across the US who chose to host teach-ins for their communities. The event grew so large it’s estimated 1 in 10 Americans took part in the first Earth Day.

Since then it has become an internationally-recognised day to bring awareness to and increase knowledge around environmental protection. Each year has a core focus and this years’ was the March for Science, calling on groups around the world to celebrate science in our communities and recognise the importance of research in order to better understand the world we live in. Here’s a look at how people took action across the world:

Feeling inspired?

If you’re passionate about the environment, visit our calendar for 2017-2018 to see our upcoming adventures aimed at environmental charities.


Rethink your rubbish: how to minimise your waste

In Australia, we send more and more rubbish to landfill every year. In fact, the average Australian family produces enough rubbish to fill a three-bedroom house! Here we look at six different ways to minimise our waste.


Minimising waste

Shop second-hand or borrow from friends – Buying second-hand is better for the environment and saves you money. Look for quality clothing as it doesn’t wear out quickly and can last quite a long time.

Find freedom in less – Try to consume less whenever you can – mend your clothes instead of buying new ones, carefully consider every purchase you make and leave your wallet at home if you are not intending to go shopping.

Reuse – Disposable items are great for convenience but they come at a cost to our environment. Consider using old rags for cleaning (instead of paper towels), purchase a reusable coffee cup and carry a water bottle with you to avoid purchasing plastic bottled water.

Bottled water

Start a worm farm – Worm farms are a great way to turn your waste into compost. It’s easy to start and you don’t need a lot of space! Most household waste is food, so it’s great to make it into something useful and better for the environment!

Avoid anything with too much packaging – These days, it’s difficult to avoid packaging altogether but it’s possible to reduce the amount of packaging we buy. Shop at the local butcher instead of the supermarket, opt to prepare your own meals from scratch rather than buying certain ingredients. You will find this is a great way to save money too.

Buy in bulk – When you buy in bulk you will find there is less packaging and less waste. Buying in bulk can also save you from going to the shops and being tempted to buy unnecessary items.

Taking small steps to be more eco-friendly can have a big, immediate impact on our ecological footprint. Hopefully these simple tips can kick-start your waste reduction!

The following organisations might be able to help:

Feeling inspired?

If you’re passionate about our planet, check out our adventure calendar and filter for ‘environment’ to discover adventures related to environmental causes!


The Great Barrier Reef in crisis: what’s going on?

So you’ve probably heard that our beautiful Great Barrier Reef is in major strife due to a huge global coral bleaching event. Yet many people don’t know why it’s important, how it happens and what it means for our Reef. That’s where we come in: welcome to Reef in Crisis 101.

Coral bleaching? What's that?

Coral bleaching is caused by unusually high sea temperatures that kill the tiny marine algae, which are vital to coral health. There is actually no evidence of these disasters happening before the late 20th century, and this is the third global coral bleaching since 1998.

To get more into the science of it, coral bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions cause coral to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, called zooxanthellae. The loss of this vibrant algae causes the coral in the reef to turn white and “bleach.” The good news is that bleached coral can recover if the temperature drops and zooxanthellae are able to recolonise them, otherwise…it may die.

Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Wonderful and beautiful underwater world with corals and tropical fish.

What's causing it?

Climate change. There’s no denying the facts that rising temperatures and therefore rising ocean temperatures are the cause of this crisis. Professor Justin Marshal, a reef scientist from Queensland confirmed the cause.

He told the 7.30 Report, “What we’re seeing now is unequivocally to do with climate change. The world has agreed, this is climate change, we’re seeing climate change play out across our reefs.”

You’ve no doubt heard about El Niño: ocean currents cause large changes in rainfall and temperatures in countries around the Pacific Ocean. So for example, Australia is hotter and dryer in El Niño years, and cooler and wetter in La Niña, the opposite pattern. These effects change our ocean temperatures too. Our 2015/2016 summer was extremely hot and long, and this long exposure to hot water is what caused the recent bleaching event. This made one of the worst coral bleaching events the Great Barrier Reef has ever experienced.

Official data from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority indicates that only 7 % of the total reef area has escaped some degree of bleaching.

“We’ve never seen anything like this scale of bleaching before. In the northern Great Barrier Reef, it’s like 10 cyclones have come ashore all at once. We have now flown over 911 individual reefs in a helicopter and light plane, to map out the extent and severity of bleaching along the full 2300km length of the Great Barrier Reef.

Of all the reefs we surveyed, only 7% (68 reefs) have escaped bleaching entirely. At the other end of the spectrum, between 60 and 100% of corals are severely bleached on 316 reefs, nearly all in the northern half of the Reef.”

– Professor Terry Hughes, convenor of the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce

Coral_Reef_shutterstock_92938828 Reef blog

Why does it matter?

So is it such a bad thing? While reefs make up less than 1% of Earth’s underwater ecosystems, we shouldn’t underestimate their importance:

  • They shelter 25 percent of marine species
  • The protect shorelines
  • They support fishing industries
  • They could possibly be home to the next big, undiscovered medical breakthrough

Dead coral then becomes covered with different types of algae and has the ability to cause a change in species of fish and a number of other animals living in the reef. This will soon be what causes the underwater animals and creatures to then become extinct.

These coral bleaching events are also a show of what’s to come if we don’t take action and address climate change. The bleaching events represent an ecological shift and a big enough change to see coral reef ecosystems disappearing forever. Do we want to lose our precious natural beauties?

Australia Great Barrier Reef Seascape of Clam Gardens
Reef Blog

What can you do?

It might seem like there is no way you as an individual can make a difference, but trust us, every action from every human counts. So how can you respond to the bleaching of the reef and the effects of climate change in general?

  • Use renewable energy in your home such as solar panels and tech batteries
  • Get your voice heard by your local government representatives, demand they take action to protect coral reefs, stop sewage pollution of our oceans, expand marine protected areas and take steps to reverse global warming
  • Respect the environment by walking or cycling when you can, recycling properly and living as waste-free as possible
  • Volunteer for a reef clean-up – and if you don’t live near a coral reef, then visit one on vacation!

There are many other ways but these are just a few you can start with.

Feeling inspired?

Check out our calendar for other incredible charity challenges and causes to get behind!

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