Our Sustainability Policy

Sustainable Travel Ireland Sustainability Policy 2021

1. Our vision, mission and ethos

At Sustainable Travel Ireland, our vision is to lead, enable and empower Irish tourism businesses to use more responsible tourism methods. We also seek to help Irish tourism businesses to address any negative impact in terms of climate change.

Sustainable Travel Ireland’s mission is to offer Irish tourism businesses high-quality training and certification in responsible and sustainable tourism. We also want to bring these businesses together to form a forward-thinking community of like-minded organisations.

Sustainable Travel Ireland is a profit-for-purpose company. We pledge that 75% of our profits will go back into our company to help more tourism companies become sustainable.

2.  We follow the UNWTO definition

At Sustainable Travel Ireland we believe that sustainable tourism is tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social, and environmental impacts while addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities (UNWTO, n.d.). We therefore aim to reduce our negative effects and increase our positive impacts.

3.  We believe in continuous improvement

As with many of our clients, we are on a journey towards a more sustainable business operation. We aren’t perfect, but we are committed to continuously improving our efforts. Since it is our mission to help the Irish tourism sector to become more sustainable, we aim to lead by example and we acknowledge that there will always be more to do.

4.  We measure and work towards reducing our resource consumption

Our team has grown substantially since we rebranded from EcoTourism Ireland to Sustainable Travel Ireland and expanded to cater for a greater range of the tourism community. We currently work from home the majority of the time, but also have regular office days. We share our office with our sister company Vagabond Tours. We therefore share our resource consumption in the office with them and try to minimise our impacts individually with our home office policy (please see section 5 for more details).

Vagabond is measuring overall office consumption on a monthly basis and for 2022 we are focusing on establishing a baseline of our own resource consumption and will work on setting reduction targets going forward.

4a. Energy consumption

Vagabond Tours measure the total office electricity use once a month (second Monday of the month). We calculated that we account for about 7% (based on 10 in-person office days per month across the Sustainable Travel Ireland Team) of the total use. We aim to reduce our energy consumption by:

  • Turning off light switches when leaving rooms.
  • Unplugging appliances when not in use.
  • Setting our laptops to eco mode.
  • Have solar panels on the roof of our office building.
  • Installing LED light bulbs.

As part of our commitment we ask our members to engage in energy saving measures when working with us.

4b. Water consumption

We are currently establishing a baseline for water consumption in the office and will update this section by the end of 2022 with the relevant data.

We aim to reduce our water consumption by:

  • Only filling the kettle with as much water as is needed to avoid unnecessary water and energy use.
  • Drinking tap water instead of shop-bought water.
  • Using an extra plastic sink basin to catch water when rinsing kitchen items and reusing it for minor cleaning tasks.
  • Running the dishwasher only when full and on ‘eco’ setting.
  • Using dual flush in bathrooms as needed.
  • Have full water bottles in the cisterns to reduce the amount of water per flush.

As part of our commitment we ask our members to engage in water saving measures when working with us.

4c. Waste production

The total office waste production is measured and recorded with every pick up, which is about every two months. Sustainable Travel Ireland accounts for about 7% of the total office waste.

Vagabond, and therefore Sustainable Travel Ireland, runs an extensive recycling programme where we aim to Reduce, Reduce, Sort and Recycle as much material as we can.

We thereby aim to reduce our waste consumption by:

  • Buying only what we really need.
  • Bringing home-cooked lunch where possible to avoid plastic packaging.
  • Recycling paper and plastic, and using a brown food composting bin.
  • Avoiding using single-use plastic (for example water bottles).
  • Avoiding paper use by running a digital office.

As part of our commitment, we ask our members to engage in waste reduction measures when working with us.

SDG:  7,12, 13, 14, 15

5. We follow our home office policy

To manage our impacts while we are working in our respective home offices we encourage our team to:

  • Signed up to a 100% renewable energy provider (eg Airtricity and Energia).
  • Set up our work station in a room with significant natural light exposure.
  • Try to reduce the need for heating in the cooler months by layering up and using a hot water bottle and/or having a hot drink.
  • We attempt to save water by not leaving taps running, using dual-flush toilets and using rain or grey water to water plants.
  • Purchase fair trade/rainforest alliance certified and or plastic-free tea and coffee (for example Pukka).
  • We try to purchase products with minimal packaging and from local (Irish) suppliers where possible.
  • We attempt to reduce our waste, reuse where possible and sort our waste into recycling, glass, food scraps and general waste.
  • When travelling to the office or to external meetings, we attempt to use public transport and carpooling where feasible. We further attempt to minimise the need to drive by holding as many meetings online as feasible.
  • Some staff drive hybrid vehicles and use an EV where possible.
  • We substitute traditional incandescent light bulbs with LED lights once a bulb reaches the end of life.
  • We upgrade equipment with the highest-energy rated equipment once it has reached end of life.
  • We run paperless home offices without printers.
  • We reuse old note books and scrap paper to write notes if needed.

SDG: 12, 13, 7

 6. We support biodiversity

Since we are a business without physical land we support Irish biodiversity and nature conservation by being a member of the All Ireland Pollinator Plan and promote it to our members.

We further encourage our members to adopt the relevant minimal impact Codes of Leave No Trace, marine megafauna viewing, bird watching, and on bogs, peatlands and wetlands among others.

As part of our commitment, we ask our members to engage in biodiversity conservation activities when working with us.

SDG: 15,17,13,4

7. We adhere to ethical purchasing principles

In general, we attempt to keep our purchasing needs to a minimum and aim to reduce our consumption by buying only what we really need. We thereby follow the key principles of:

  • Sourcing products and services locally where possible and giving preference to third-party certified products.
  • Purchasing products with less environmental impact in their manufacture, use and disposal, and giving preference to responsible products with less packaging.
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle packaging.
  • Ensure that all suppliers adhere to safe and ethical working practices.
  • As part of our commitment, we ask our members to engage in ethical purchasing practices when working with us.

SDG: 12,13,8

8.  We engage in carbon reduction and offsetting

For 2022, we are focusing on establishing our carbon footprint and will work on setting reduction targets going forward. We will offset the emissions that we are not able to reduce with a certified, ICROA-accredited project that is part of the Gold Standard and Verified Carbon Standard programmes (such as the projects offered by South Pole).

As part of our commitment, we ask our members to engage in carbon management and offsetting when working with us.

9.  We limit the environmental impact of our meetings and events

Meetings and events can have a significant impact on the environment. We therefore aim at limiting the negative impact by:

  • Understanding the importance of in-person meetings, but giving preference to online meetings where possible.
  • Encouraging participants to turn off their cameras during presentations and to switch it on for Q&A sessions to limit the energy required to operate video conferencing calls.

 

For physical meetings and events we:

  • Only work with third party sustainability certified venues.
  • Run paperless marketing campaigns
  • Ensure that the venue is reachable by public transport and encourage car sharing where car use cannot be avoided.
  • Offer emission offsetting programme for delegates.
  • Request vegetarian catering options as default (opt-in for meat).
  • Apply a zero single-use-plastic policy during events.
  • Avoid any goodie bags and marketing products unless digital or edible.

 

10.  We market our sustainability efforts in a responsible manner

We know that it is important to communicate our efforts in an honest way. We are aware of the risk of greenwashing and are committed to marketing our organisation in an ethical and responsible way. We create accurate marketing that leads to realistic expectations and will develop further guidelines around our marketing efforts by the end of 2022.

As part of our commitment, we ask our members to engage in responsible sustainability marketing when working with us.

11.  We engage with our stakeholders

We, like any other business, cannot operate in isolation. We therefore value our stakeholders and engage with them by:

  • Speaking at events on the topic of sustainable tourism.
  • Encouraging the adoption of sustainable tourism measures that reflect the UNWTO definition of sustainable tourism (see section 1).
  • Running public and member workshops and webinars on topics around sustainable tourism.
  • Joining forces by running free webinars with organisations whose messages are compatible with our own (like SEAI, Biodiversity Ireland, Irish Water etc).
  • Sending customer satisfaction surveys after each workshop session.
  • Checking in via one-on-one calls with new members before they convert to paid membership.

 

12. We take social responsibility and build a community

We believe that collaboration and community building are the most effective ways to spread knowledge about sustainability. We thereby support our community by:

  • Running an annual conference (link).
  • Offering heavily discounted student tickets.
  • Running regular free webinars.
  • Providing cost-effective training.
  • Curating sustainability resources.
  • Offering a member whats-app group.
  • Running member-only events.
  • Offering a 3-months free trial membership to encourage all stakeholders of the industry to join and make use of our free courses.

As part of our commitment, we ask our members to take social responsibility when working with us.

13. Further guiding principles and memberships

In addition to this sustainability policy, we further adhere to the following principles:

 

Written and signed by:

  1. Rob Rankin – Managing Director
  2. Roisin Finlay – General Manager
  3. Lauren Keogh – Senior Executive
  4. Imke Range – Lead Sustainability Trainer

Date: 30 November 2021

This document was last update on: 6 January 2021

This document will be reviewed annually.