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Our new Head of Sustainability

Our new Head of Sustainability Prue Stone explains why sustainability is so important and answers questions on her plans for Explore and responsible tourism over the next 12 months and beyond.
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1. Why is responsible tourism so important to both you and Explore?

If we don’t protect our planet now, our children will not see the same wonders that we have. Ultimately that is the baseline of sustainability - it motivates me personally and is fundamental to the future of any travel company. If we want to keep operating, if we want to keep benefitting local economies, funding wildlife projects and providing employment globally, we have to do this responsibly. We have a beautiful but fragile world around us, and one we are truly passionate to visit and appreciate but never invade.

2. Explore is now carbon offsetting trips - why?

Current IPCC advice tells us that, by 2030, we need to cut global carbon emissions to at least 55% below what they were in 2017 to keep the planet within 1.5 degrees of warming. As a travel company sending customers  around the world, we are fully aware of the responsibility of the tourism industry in climate change.

We have a comprehensive strategy to measure our carbon, reduce our footprint and offset the residual carbon with ClimateCare. This was not a decision taken lightly, and after extensive research we have chosen to offset our residual carbon with a Gold Standard provider. Offsetting alone does not provide the answer to climate change: we need to make changes as a company and an industry, and we will continue to work towards that, but in the meantime we are choosing to offset rather than do nothing.

3. How do you monitor animal welfare on your trips?

We have always taken animal welfare extremely seriously, ensuring that we treat animals with the respect they deserve. We endeavour to only include wildlife-based activities out in the wild or visits to places where animals exhibit natural behaviours in environments as close to their homes as possible.

We have a new animal welfare policy (to be published soon) in which we re-examine every contact we have with wildlife alongside Born Free; our new wildlife partner, and one we are exceptionally proud to be working with.

4. What do you do in the office environment?

We have made considerable changes to our head office over the years. While some changes have been gradual, over the last two years we have made great progress: we are now zero-waste-to-landfill, with solar panels on our roof, using renewable energy providers and plant-based cleaning products, and we have undertaken a complete office audit to become carbon neutral. We believe in a circular economy; with a closed paper loop, recycled flooring and an office swap shop.

Being sustainable in our office is more than environmental though: it's holistic. We believe in fair wages, flexible working and a focus on mental health as well as physical. We believe a healthy working environment, where passions are encouraged, enjoyment equals productivity and challenging behaviours, creates new habits, will be the key to our success both in-house and on trips.

5. What are the key things we need to be more aware of when travelling?

I think if we can just pull a few of our habits from home into our holiday we can make a big difference. We know that people are pretty good at recycling and reusing at home, but often these habits are left behind when we travel. I don’t change my bedding or towels every day at home, so I don't need this to happen on holiday. I always travel with a reusable water bottle so I can avoid plastic, and when I know the tap water isn’t safe or I’m unsure, then I use my Water-to-Go bottle. I carry reusable bags and beeswax wraps on holiday as well as at home.

Beyond that, we should be aiming to travel less often but more meaningfully, and using train travel wherever possible. Eating local, making more vegetarian choices, and using more public transport: small changes make a big difference, but big changes will make the difference that we need.

6. What do the next 12 months look like?

It’s a big question, it’s going to be a very busy year! My main focus is split three ways: decarbonisation (company- and industry-wide), communication and our office operations and welfare. I have created bespoke team strategies designed around five of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals which weave through Explore, through each team and across all of our agents, leaders and trips. It’s certainly a challenge, but I thrive on that!

Have any questions, or even a few ideas? Why not contact Prue on sustainability@explore.co.uk

 


Discover more about responsible tourism and sustainability at Explore in our Responsible Travel section.
SUSTAINABILITY AT EXPLORE

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