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B Corp Better Places Builds on Travel Offsets Program
Four years ago, Dutch startup Better Places was the first tour operator to report on and compensate for all travel undertaken by travelers and staff, at its own expense. It started to buy carbon credits in bulk from the South Pole Group and invest these in a clean cooking stove project in Ghana.
Two years later, the Dutch Tour Operators Association (ANVR) followed this example and started to offer all members the opportunity to buy carbon credits in bulk through the South Pole Group. Better Places is very proud that in 2019 this same initiative was taken to the next level by the Adventure Travel Trade Association.
Certified B Corporations like Better Places meet the highest standards of positive impact on society and the environment. Learn what it means to be B Corp certified.
How It All Started
From the beginning, the founders of Certified B Corporation Better Places (and subsequently Fairaway in Germany and Better Places Travel internationally) knew they wanted to be at the forefront of change. As founder Saskia Griep says: “I worked in tourism long enough to know that voluntary offsetting schemes won’t get us far. We felt that offsetting emissions was the least we could do, on behalf of our customers, if we really wanted to call ourselves a responsible tour operator.”
Having spent the better part of 2015 collecting data and coming to grips with different carbon calculators and emissions trading schemes, Better Places made a deal to buy carbon credits in bulk from South Pole Group on behalf of its customers. The credits were put into a clean cooking stove project in Ghana.
From National to Global
At the start of 2018, the Dutch Tour Operators Association (ANVR) decided that time had come to follow suit. Only one in 800 Dutch travelers were voluntarily offsetting their trips at that time. ANVR followed in the footsteps of Better Places and secured a similar carbon credits deal for its members through the South Pole Group. Soon 12 larger Dutch tour operators followed suit and started to offset for their travelers (15,000–25,000 per year) at their own expense.
And starting in January 2020, Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) members also can take advantage of buying carbon offset credits in bulk. Through the Neutral Together program, members can buy carbon offsets at approximately US$4 per tonne, rather than the standard US$12. This is also made possible through in-bulk buying via the South Pole Group.
At the same time, we know offsetting alone is not the answer. Better Places does everything possible to minimize the CO2 emissions of its journeys, not even shying from advising clients to travel less often and for longer periods of time, whenever possible. Recently it also started to offer adventure trips within Europe to unique destinations that can be reached by train. Since 2018 Better Places has imposed a voluntary flight/carbon tax on itself, with proceeds going toward supporting and promoting clean energy initiatives and research on lower-pollution options for flying.
B the Change gathers and shares the voices from within the movement of people using business as a force for good and the community of Certified B Corporations. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the nonprofit B Lab.
Accelerating Industrywide Action on Sustainable Tourism was originally published in B the Change on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.