8 Smart Tips for Low Waste Travel

We were doing better in the fight against pollution until the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020 and uncertainty became our new reality.

Containing the Covid-19 virus became a “greater priority” than environmental concerns, and we have to make difficult and often necessary changes to the way we live and consume.  The versatile and affordable plastic became indispensable in preventing the spread of the virus and saving lives, and demand for single-use masks, gloves, gowns and disposable bags skyrocketed. A glut of masks and gloves are washing up on shorelines and littering the seabed, choaking and strangling animals and sealife. Food deliveries in single-use containers with plastic utensils surged,  and so did online grocery and Amazon deliveries in excessive packaging.  This massive “back step” needs two huge steps forward to minimise the repercussions of a very wasteful year and changing attitudes and behaviour will be our biggest challenge.

With Covid-19 still a rampant concern in 2021 as travel restarts, committing to lead a less wasteful lifestyle also means lower impact and lower carbon, and a better and more sustainable travel experience. Travelling waste free is impossible, but there are oodles of small things we can all do to reduce our personal waste which can lessen our travel carbon footprint. 

Airports and airlines, train stations and trains, ships and boats use loads of single-use disposables, and so do hotels, resorts and B&Bs, depending on their sustainability commitment.  Many hotels claim to be eco or sustainable with creative PR by changing to LED lights, a reuse of towels/bedding programme, and no plastic straws and bottles. Expect these and good service as basics … and demand better.  

Don’t underestimate your impact and the power of your wallet when choosing places to stay.  Demand a commitment to rigorous sustainability with accountability and transparency, support of the Global Goals and actions to reach Net Zero carbon emissions before 2030. Find them in the NOW SUSTAINABILITY TOOL.

Here are 8 tips as you prepare to travel smartly and rethink your packing to waste less and lighten your load.


Try not to buy a vacation wardrobe, or if you must buy, purchase better locally. For warm places, avoid purchasing cotton and go for basics made of linen or hemp at the destination and support the locals. While natural is better than synthetic, a linen shirt uses 6.4 litres of water compared to 2,700 litres for a cotton shirt!  Clothing and trainers made from ocean plastic are great, just remember that microfibre plastic in clothes and shoes will release nanoplastics in the wash into drains to rivers, lakes and oceans! Wash in low temp and use a washing bag.

Globally, 80% of discarded clothing are doomed for the landfill or incineration. Only 20% are actually reused or recycled. The clothing that ends up in landfills can sit there for 200-plus years, and as it decomposes, it emits methane—a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon.


Don’t waste paper if you don’t have to. With the ease of technology and a smartphone, there is no need to print your plane/train/bus/metro ticket and boarding pass.  Use electronic tickets and digital receipts for Expense Reports. Save trees by using eBook readers to read a book or a magazine. You will travel lighter too!


Tea and coffee-to-go often comes in a paper cup with a plastic lid and less than 1% is recycled.  Use your own BPA-free light, portable, leakproof and well-insulated cup for hot drinks.  If you’re not moving around too much, there are umpteen cup options that come in a myriad of shapes, sizes and materials, from bamboo to biodegradable materials,  ceramic models, and even temperature-controlled cups connectable to a dedicated app.

Most tea bags are not recyclable and made of the same plastic as PET and could leach plastic particles into the brewed tea. Billions and billions of them according to  researchers at McGill University who tested four kinds of plastic tea bags in boiling water, and found that a single bag would release more than 11 billion microplastic and 3 billion nanoplastic particles.  We would not be able to see the contamination with your own eyes; the researchers had to use an electron microscope. But it’s there!

Bring your favorite tea leaves in properly sealed containers and tea infusing balls or spoons. Tea balls are a great choice for tea leaves that don’t need to expand, great for green tea, pu’erh tea, some black tea, and most herbal teas. You shouldn’t use them for oolongs or loose leaf teas or rooibos which have very small particles that will end up in your cup.


Bring your own socially-responsible and environmentally-friendly, ultra light reusable bottle made from stainless steel, glass, or safe aluminium. Carry safe drinking water with you wherever your adventures take you with a range of refillable water bottles with built-in filter technology to make contaminated water safe to drink while you are on the move. For cool drinks, a collapsible cup will save space when not in use or travelling. If you do forget to bring your water bottle along with you, don’t panic. You can find a fountain, ask a cafe for a glass of water, or purchase a glass bottle of water and reuse it. 

Avoid purchasing water or any drinks in single-use plastic bottles. The perception that bottled water is purer than tap, of higher quality and more pristine water most likely come from adverts depicting a fresh stream or mountain spring, but this is rare and most water likely comes from public sources.  Some are filtered before bottling it but many do not, and you risk ingesting the chemicals used to make the bottles as these toxins can leach into the water over time. In fact, a World Health Organisation (WHO) study found that in 93% of popular bottled water brands tested the water contained plastic fibers (similar results were also found in a study conducted by Fredonia State University of New York).


Carry reusable utensils and straw to avoid using the disposable plastic variety provided with take-out or delivered food.  Consider using reusable cutlery made from bamboo to further reduce weight and just remember to clean them once you’re done eating!  

Our homes or office or lodging place already have cutlery and do not need the plastic cutlery that is delivered with food orders! Plastic cutlery is too small and lightweight and one of those items that won’t get recycled even when you put it in the recycling. It’s considered contaminated, so the 40 billion plastic utensils delivered per year in the USA alone are a complete waste.


Bring a reusable bag for shopping to help cut down on disposable plastic or paper bags.  Do not buy goods that come in single use disposable packaging. Instead bring your own tasty, energy booster snacks packed in sealed and reusable silicon ziploc bags.They are more durable, easier to clean for reuse, and also great to store your toiletries, etc. 

Less than 1% are recycled and most are  made from Polyethylene that takes centuries to degrade. Some 10% of this plastic end up in the oceans. An estimated 300 million plastic bags every year end up in the Atlantic Ocean alone. Each ton of recycled plastic bags saves the energy equivalent of 11 barrels of oil.

The numbers are shocking:

  • 5 trillion – number of plastic bags thrown out per year! 
  • 160,000 – number of plastic bags thrown out per second! 
  • 700 – number of plastic bags thrown out per person each year! 
  • 12 minutes – average amount of time the plastic bag is used!
  • 1000 years – the time needed for a plastic bag to break down!


We travel with an excess of toiletries: shampoo, balm, shower gel, face wash, moisturizer, deodorant, razors, tampons, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a manifold of beauty products. Avoid buying plastic mini toiletries and taking minis from hotels. 

Decant from bigger bottles from home. Shampoo and conditioner bars are lightweight compared to bottles and can be found wrapped in paper to further save on plastic usage. 

Chemicals from toiletries overload our bodies! Buy chemical-free or organic. Chemicals from sunscreen damage coral reefs! Aethic Sôvée is marine positive certified (doing more good than harm to the marine ecology) and use recyclable PE bottles made from sugar cane in a glue-less box made from sustainable Swedish paper with water- based food-grade inks and compostable clear film,

Ethical personal care products appeal to women who don’t want to use harmful chemicals with chlorine or synthetic materials in pads and tampons. A menstrual cup is a lighter option.

Use an organic cotton reusable towel or handkerchief instead of disposable napkins or tissues.


Buy local and support local businesses selling locally made artisanal products. Think of 5 places to display the souvenir to avoid buyers remorse.  Think twice before purchasing cheap, poorly made items with excessive packaging that travel a huge distance to get to market.  Avoid items that are made of natural and eco materials, but take loads of energy and chemicals to make into a product.

240 Seconds with Brad Frankel

Brad is the co-founder of Flooglebinder, a travel specialist that design and curate educational adventures to create change.  Brad and his partner Ian believe that change starts when we take a stand and do things differently, and both are passionate about travel, conservation, sustainability, human wellbeing, and making the world a better place.  

For Brad, it was a conversation with his teacher about his passion for diving that led to his studies in Marine Biology, which led to his passion to educate students. He is a qualified divemaster and underwater videographer, and  has a wealth of experience working on conservation projects around the world.

It is said that change can be made when just 3.5% of a community takes action. Therefore, it is Flooglebinder’s mission to work with 230 schools and colleges in the UK (3.5%) by 2030 to build a more sustainable future,  to reconnect students with the natural world and deepen their curiosity and understanding of conservation and their social and environmental impact. Through life-changing and informative expeditions, students are taught to protect endangered habitats, threatened species and diminishing cultures. Educational & Sustainable Trips Inspiring Global Change | Flooglebinder

1. One Word that describes you?


2. What is your personal indulgence?

Running, camping and fires. Anything outdoors and if I am feeling really indulgent, a good shepherds hut.

3. What project are you most proud of when it comes to sustainability?

Our Malaysia project planned for Dec 20, 2020 with 70 students building a chocolate and animal hides factory. The community project is 3.5 hours North East of Kuala Lumpur, an area that is unfortunately big on palm oil and rubber. However, 50+ years ago, it was great for cacao and we helped to rebuild this industry whilst also protecting a really important tiger migration corridor. The project is on hold during Covid-19 but we’re hoping to pick it back up again in 2020.

Our Sri Lanka project plants orange trees to create livelihoods for farmers and create natural corridors for elephants to protect them, save lives and create an alternative cash crop. It’s a Win-Win situation and a great example of a sustainable solution to tackle human/elephant conflict.

4. Covid-19 has been called the Great Reset… what does this mean for you? If you had to distil it into just 3 key words, what would they be?

Re-think, Adapt and Persevere. It certainly forced us to slow down from our day to day work, and allowed us to work on all the side projects that we’ve left behind such as our re-brand and new site. For a business whose main revenue is through international travel though, it has not been easy.

5. We have gone over the dreaded tipping points and our actions in 2021 will determine if 2030 will be relatively hopeful for a stable future. As governments allocate the 10 trillion-dollar budget for recovery programs worldwide in 2021, how are you using the power of your vote and your voice to ensure this goes to companies that can address the climate emergency, collapsing ecosystems, deficits on social justice and racial equalities.

We realised a long time ago that travel enables people to connect. It opens up people’s eyes, creates empathy, holistic mindsets and prepares people for a globally minded future. Be it social or racial injustice, coral bleaching or biodiversity loss, seeing these issues in action creates change towards pro environmental behaviour. The educational work that we do before and after the trip itself (which we call the connection phase) helps people to understand what is really going on.

By understanding their social and environmental impact and carbon footprint, people become more aware and realise the importance of their purchasing power as consumers. They are able to understand the role of government and business, particularly those using business as a force for good. We do a lot of work with schools to help them achieve carbon neutrality and a big part of the sustainability action plan is looking at their supply chain.

6. Are you an activist at heart?  Which movement/s are you supporting to drive systemic change, get to carbon zero, and/or stand for social justice?

I guess I am. I’ve never really been asked that question or thought about it, and whilst I don’t sit on the picket line, I do it in many other ways. We’re very proud to be a BCorp and was part of the first cohort in the UK in 2016 and one of the first travel companies globally to obtain the BCorp Certify accreditation. We’re also a member of the United Nations Climate Now Initiative and a partner of Let’s Go Zero. No matter what industry or sector you’re in, being a BCorp is all about creating positive change and understanding your social and environmental impact. Therefore, if all companies followed its ethos, the world would be a much better place.

7. What must happen NOW to get people to change attitudes and behaviour and be more accountable? 

Awareness.   It must be NOW that people understand their own impact and be aware of the implications of their actions – from what they purchase, who they purchase from and how much they consume. As an individual, our purchasing power is one of the key contributions to show what we believe in. Buy green renewable energy, buy from a BCorp, travel with purpose and impact, reduce your meat and dairy and you’ll be making a great start.

8.  What would you say to those who do little to nothing for the good of communities and the environment?

It’s hard to not get frustrated at times and I realised a long time ago that preaching doesn’t work. The best way is to understand them and their position and then find something that they can relate too. We’re all affected whether we like it or not.

9. What is your personal favorite place to stay that’s trying hard to be accountable and transparent around sustainability with no greenwash allowed? (Please include website).

Kantipur Temple House. These guys have been doing sustainability since before I was even born – https://www.kantipurtemplehouse.com/

10. Is your company a Force for Good? What are the biggest risks you’ve taken … what are the pivotal moments?

We’re a Bcorp so it’s very easy to say yes. Every decision we make takes into account our values to be conscious, passionate and kind. Our biggest pictoral moment is Now – Working with schools is hard enough as it is due to the amount of red tape and currently travel is almost impossible so pputting the two together doesn’t make it easy. Therefore we’re launching our new solo adult group trips and family bespoke Tailor Made Trips.

11. What legacy would you like to leave behind from your leadership?

If you love something enough you can make it happen.

12. Who is your greatest influence?

My dog Kiki, as she’s always living in the present, which few of us do and reminds me to enjoy the simple things in life.

13. Best advice you have been given?

If you’ve gone down the wrong path don’t be afraid to take a few steps back and go down another as the longer you go down the wrong path the harder it is to come back.

14. Your best advice to the young generations concerned about their future?

Support what you believe in but holistically and with empathy.

15. Any regrets?

Learning Spanish in school. I went for Latin as I thought it may help with veterinary school, which I didn’t end up doing.

Salmon – A Red Herring

Salmon: A Red Herring is a thought provoking installation by London-based Cooking Sections that reflects on the impact of salmon farms on the environment and explores the deceptive reality of salmon as a colour and as a fish. It questions what colours we expect in our ‘natural’ environment and asks us to examine how our perception of colour is changing as much as we are changing the planet. 

Salmon is usually thought of as pink and the colour is even called ‘salmon pink’. However, farmed-raised salmon would be an unappetizing grayish hue if not for the synthetically derived pigment dyes (astaxanthin and canthaxanthin) in their feed to give them that appealing ‘salmon’ color. It’s a horrible and grim picture! Sorry salmon foodies.

The SalmoFan™ is a system of fifteen shades of “salmon pink’, artificial colouring that reflects consumer demands of recognisably natural colours.  It is a true ‘red herring’ to distract our attention from the real issues.  

Let’s be blunt. Farmed salmon grown in industrial-scale open net farms brings pollution and plagues of sea lice, and runoffs are threatening the future of the wild salmon. The changing colours of species around the planet are warning signs of an environmental crisis. Many of these changes result from humans and animals ingesting and absorbing synthetic substances. Changes in flesh, scales, feathers, skin, leaves or wings give us   clues to environmental and metabolic transformations around us and inside us.  

The installation Salmon – A Red Herring is displayed at the cultural institution Tate Britain and use the infinite scenes of a cyclorama (a cylinder showing a panoramic view) to tell the colourful stories of farmed salmon and the many other nonhuman lives connected with their plight through the globalised nature of industrialized food production.  

Salmon: A Red Herring is a continuation of Cooking Sections’ long-term body of work named CLIMAVORE which explores how our diet can address and respond to the climate emergency. Different from carnivore, omnivore, locavore, vegetarian or vegan diets, CLIMAVORE is not only about the origin of food, but also about the agency that food has in our response to human-induced climatic events.

Cooking Sections: Daniel Fernández Pascual & Alon Schwabe

Cooking Sections founders – Daniel Fernández Pascual & Alon Schwabe – are examining the systems that organise the world through food. Using installation, performance, mapping and video, their research-based practice explores the overlapping boundaries between visual arts, architecture, ecology and geopolitics. 

The project also engaged with 10 local restaurants including Tate’s Cafes that removed farmed salmon off their menu and introduced a CLIMAVORE dish instead, aiming to look at CLIMAVORE forms of eating that address environmental regeneration and promote more responsive aqua-cultures in an era of man-induced environmental transformations.


Changemaker Matt Mellen, founder of EcoHustler shared his experience about FREEDIVING AT A SALMON FACTORY FARM  in Scotland to call out the threat to wild salmon’s future HEREIn Dead Loss, he shares a new analysis that reveals the astonishing hidden costs of salmon farming HERE.

So what’s so bad about salmon feed with synthetically-derived pigments?   Mayo Clinic warn that PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls concentrated in fish oils and fats) can pose serious health risks to people who frequently eat contaminated fish. Farmed salmon can be packed with a host of chemical contaminants—the kinds that can cause cancer, memory problems, and neurobehavioral changes in kids. Cornell research showed that PCBs, dioxins and chlorinated pesticides in farmed salmon ranged as high as 10 times that in wild salmon. The contaminants are thought to come partly from the fish’s feed: protein pellets made of fish and fish oil, which can build up toxins in the fish’s flesh. Also, tight pens can breed disease, necessitating antibiotics, and the pens are treated with pesticides against sea lice. All these additions can ultimately be transferred to our plate.

In addition to threats from industrial-scale salmon farming, they are also  leading the way to a scary new world, genetically engineered salmon known as ‘Frankenfish’ which does not have to be labelled after receiving FDA approval in late 2015 for human consumption. This long read from The Guardian on Net loss: the high price of salmon farming is a must read.

We get what we pay for since not all farmed salmon or wild salmon are created equal. There is inexpensive wild salmon, but that may be because it spent half its life in a hatchery (with farmed salmon conditions) before being released. Organically farmed salmon has more enforced guidelines to restrict pesticides and prohibited canthaxanthin in its feed.  

Wild salmon is a barometer for the health of the planet.  They offer a clear connection between marine and terrestrial ecology because salmon live part of their life in freshwater lakes and rivers and part of it in the sea. Most of what we do on land ends up impacting the ocean, but with salmon we are able to see that connection more clearly. 

For our wellbeing and the sustainable future of wild salmon, consider saving up for wild salmon from traditional artisanal fisheries, also known as small-scale fisheries. It’s better for us and the planet.

International Women’s Day – Choose to Challenge

Today, we embrace International Women’s Day and we remember the strong, willful and courageous women who rallied and striked against inequality and deep-rooted discrimination, and paved the way for the freedom and rights that some of us enjoy today. 

We have come a long way since the winter of February 28, 1909 when the Socialist Party of America celebrated National Women’s Day and bravely took to the streets to honor women garment workers who had protested against inhumane working conditions the year before.  A year later, the Social International established Women’s Day in Copenhagen to celebrate those working for women’s rights and universal suffrage.  Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland followed on March 19, 1911 to celebrate the first official International Women’s Day when more than one million people attended rallies focused on suffrage, representation, education, and workers’ rights. Over the next few decades, more European countries marked the holiday on March 8, and during International Women’s Year in 1975, the United Nations celebrated it as an official holiday on March 8 to celebrate women’s contributions to society, to raise awareness about the ongoing fight for gender parity, and to inspire support for organizations that help women globally. 

112 years later, most nations claim to support women and advocate for women empowerment, yet shocking crimes against women are on the rise, not just in underdeveloped and developing nations, but in developed countries as well. “Twenty-five years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, progress towards equal power and equal rights for women remains elusive. No country has achieved gender equality, and the COVID-19 crisis threatens to erode the limited gains that have been made. The Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals and efforts to recover better from the pandemic offer a chance to transform the lives of women and girls, today and tomorrow” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

The key facts according to the United Nations Global Database on Violence against Women should not only anger us, it must activate us.

1)   Globally, around 1 of 3 women (35%) have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, or sexual violence by a non-partner. This figure does not include sexual harassment. Some national studies show that the number can be as high as 70 per cent of women, and that rates of depression, having an abortion, and acquiring HIV are higher in women who have experienced this type of violence compared to women who have not. 

2)   Calls to helplines have increased five-fold in some countries as rates of reported intimate partner violence increase because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Restricted movement, social isolation, and economic insecurity are increasing women’s vulnerability to violence in the home around the world.

3)   137 women are killed by a member of their family every day. It is estimated that of the 87,000 women who were intentionally killed in 2017 globally, more than half (50,000) were killed by intimate partners or family members. More than a third (30,000) of the women intentionally killed in 2017 were killed by their current or former intimate partner.

4)   Less than 40 per cent of the women who experience violence seek help of any sort. In the majority of countries with available data on this issue, among women who do seek help, most look to family and friends and very few look to formal institutions, such as police and health services. Less than 10 per cent of those seeking help appealed to the police.

5)   At least 155 countries have passed laws on domestic violence, and 140 have laws on sexual harassment in the workplace. However, even when laws exist, this does not mean they are always compliant with international standards and recommendations, or are implemented and enforced.

6)   Adult women account for nearly half (49 per cent) of all human trafficking victims detected globally. Women and girls together account for 72 per cent, with girls representing more than three out of every four child trafficking victims. Most women and girls are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

7)   In 2019, one in five women, aged 20–24 years, were married before the age of 18. During the past decade, the global rate of child marriage has declined, with South Asia having the largest decline during this time. Today, the risk of child marriage is highest in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than one in three women, aged 20–24 years, were married before the age of 18. Child marriage often results in early pregnancy and social isolation, interrupts schooling, and increases a girl’s risk of experiencing domestic violence . 

8)   At least 200 million women and girls, aged 15–49 years, have undergone female genital mutilation in 31 countries where the practice is concentrated. Half of these countries are in West Africa. There are still countries where female genital mutilation is almost universal, where at least 9 in 10 girls and women, aged 15–49 years, have been cut.

9)   15 million adolescent girls worldwide, aged 15–19 years, have experienced forced sex. In the vast majority of countries, adolescent girls are most at risk of forced sex (forced sexual intercourse or other sexual acts) by a current or former husband, partner, or boyfriend. Based on data from 30 countries, only one per cent have ever sought professional help.

10)  School related gender-based violence is a major obstacle to universal schooling and the right to education for girls. Globally, one in three students, aged 11–15, have been bullied by their peers at school at least once in the past month, with girls and boys equally likely to experience bullying. While boys are more likely to experience physical bullying than girls, girls are more likely to experience psychological bullying, and they report being made fun of because of how their face or body looks more frequently than boys.

11)  One in 10 women in the European Union report having experienced cyber-harassment since the age of 15. This included having received unwanted and/or offensive sexually explicit emails or SMS messages, or offensive and/or inappropriate advances on social networking sites. The risk is highest among young women aged 18–29 years.

12)  In the Middle East and North Africa, 40–60 per cent of women have experienced street-based sexual harassment. In the multi-country study, women said the harassment was mainly sexual comments, stalking or following, or staring or ogling. Between 31 and 64 per cent of men said they had carried out such acts. Younger men, men with more education, and men who experienced violence as children were more likely to engage in street sexual harassment.

13)  Across five regions, 82 per cent of women parliamentarians reported having experienced some form of psychological violence while serving their terms. This included remarks, gestures and images of a sexist or humiliating sexual nature, threats, and mobbing. Women cited social media as the main channel of this type of violence, and nearly half (44 per cent) reported receiving death, rape, assault, or abduction threats towards them or their families. Sixty-five per cent had been subjected to sexist remarks, primarily by male colleagues in parliament.

14)  By September 2020, 48 countries had integrated prevention and response to violence against women and girls into COVID-19 response plans, and 121 countries had adopted measures to strengthen services for women survivors of violence during the global crisis, but more efforts are urgently needed.The UN World’s Women 2020 compiled 100 data stories that provide a snapshot of the state of gender equality worldwide in six critical areas: population and families; health; education; economic empowerment and asset ownership; power and decision-making; and violence against women and the girl child as well as the impact of COVID-19.

Why educate a girl?  View 10 reasons why and the inspiring Education for All founded and supported by the founders of Kasbah du Toubkal. An educated woman educates the next generation.  Education is a human right enshrined in article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it calls  for free and compulsory elementary education. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, goes further to stipulate that countries shall make higher education accessible to all. 

Going beyond the rhetoric, both the opportunity and the right to education are never equal, and girls and women are too often shortchanged in many parts of our world. Today, women still do not have the same opportunities to advance as men and this is unacceptable.  

Women make up half the global population and we need both men and women empowered to tackle our most critical challenges and threats – from climate change and escalating conflicts, to economic crisis and lack of health care, countries the violate human rights and exploitation and violence against women.

The 2021 International Women’s Day theme is Choose to Challenge.  A challenged world is an alert world and we can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

Today and everyday, let us celebrate the women in our lives. Let us continue the clamour, the outcry and the fight for equal rights, and demand for the abuse and violence against women to stop.  It must be NOW!

420 seconds with Thierry Malleret

Thierry Malleret is the managing partner of the Monthly Barometer – a succinct predictive analysis provided to private investors, global CEOs and some of today’s most influential opinion and decision-makers. He and his partners also run the Summit of Minds. Thierry has written several business and academic books, has published four novels and just co-wrote COVID-19: The Great Reset with Klaus Schwab (founder of executive chairman of the World Economic Forum)

One word that describes you?
Perseverance (it trumps intelligence).

Which is your favourite part of your job and which part do you enjoy the least?
My favourite part: interacting with interesting people from all walks of life and discussing their ideas. The one I enjoy the least: dealing with IT problems.

What is your personal indulgence?
Single bean dark chocolate!

Before Covid-19, climate change activism sparked the support of millions worldwide, unified in their demand for governments and companies to take urgent action and reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025. Has Covid-19 lessened or increased the urgency in 2020? How are you making a difference?
For a range of reasons that we explain in COVID-19: The Great Reset, the pandemic has accelerated the global commitment to embrace net 0 as fast as possible. I make a difference in reinventing my business model (see below) and in walking the talk to the maximum possible extent. As one limited example, my family and I will travel abroad for pleasure 80% less than we did in the past. As for business travel, we’ll reduce it as much as we can.

What are your thoughts on carbon offsetting and your actions?
Carbon offsets are important and can be effective but they are not sufficient because they don’t address the root of the problem that is the lack of clean transportation options (in the case of travel). Apart from the fact that carbon offsets do not always bring the intended benefits (for reasons ranging from corrupt markets to trees not growing as well as anticipated), they tend to reduce the incentives required for the drastic reduction in emissions needed to contain global warming and environmental degradation. The fundamental problem with carbon offsets in an industry like travel & tourism that provides goods that are “discretionary” by nature is the following: they convey the idea that “practically sacrifice-free” solutions (paying an offset). The only viable long-term solution is to travel less, i.e. to consume fewer flights.

My actions: my core business (the Monthly Barometer) emits almost 0 carbon by virtue of being a small digital boutique with very limited use of servers. The Summit of Minds is more carbon intensive because it brings participants from all over the world to different locations. Until now, we suggested to our participants that they offset their travel and potentially did so on their behalf. We now think this model is broken: moving forward we’ll organise hybrid Summits of Minds: bringing local participants to one location and inviting transcontinental participants to join us online.

Given that the current economic crisis was triggered by a public-health crisis, what changes can we expect to the travel industry that persist long into the future?
Concerns about COVID will soon mutate in concerns about the environment. Many T&T industry players hope that the situation will return to normal when the pandemic is over, but in my opinion this is wishful thinking. The implications of the necessity to be ‘sustainable’ will rapidly evolve from a vague commitment not to make a complete mess of travel destinations to the imperative of actually improving them. The global calls to “build back better” (the economy, our societies, industry) are amplifying, and the tourism industry, with a growing awareness of all the negative externalities it produces, will be subject to ever greater scrutiny. This is the reason why some industry leaders, investors and activists are now promoting the idea of “regenerative travel”, aware that a return to the status quo is impossible. At the core of regenerative travel is the simple idea of leaving the places we visit better than we found them. It therefore entails a set of measures as diverse as choosing quality over quantity, ensuring fair income distribution, paying attention to nature, culture, human health and local communities.

How are you giving back to local communities and how are they benefitting from this?
The best and most obvious way to give back to your local community is to treat your employees fairly and equitably (by having for example a differential between the highest and lowest salaries that is reasonably low). The same goes for all the people you interact with on a regular basis: be respectful and treat them fairly and equitably.

In your travels, would you support hotels and tourism companies that are not committed to rigorous sustainability? How do we make them more accountable around sustainability?
No, I would not. The most efficient way to make such hotels and tourism companies more accountable is to apply economic pressure by not supporting them or paying for their services until they change their behaviour.

What 3 changes must happen NOW to get people to change attitudes and behaviour?
IT MUST BE NOW that we make the right consumption decisions, more respectful of Mother Nature, and that we resolutely invest in our natural assets.

Can we have wellness without sustainability (defined as wellbeing for our world)?
No we cannot. Wellbeing and sustainability are two facets of the same coin. As Klaus Schwab and I argue in COVID-19: The Great Reset, it is impossible to dissociate them. The reason is simple: our individual well -being and the wellbeing of our planet (which depends on how sustainable it is) are inseparable.

Should governments make sustainability mandatory?
They will! As environmental problems become so acute as to pose an existential threat to humankind, governments will have no other choice than to make sustainability mandatory.

In your book COVID-19: The Great Reset, you argued the “We are at a crossroads. One path will take us to a better world: more inclusive, more equitable and more respectful of Mother Nature. The other will take us to a world that resembles the one we just left behind – but worse and constantly dogged by nasty surprises. We must therefore get it right.” Will we get it right? What will this look like?
I think and hope we’ll get it right. Quite surprisingly COVID-19 has made us collectively aware of the critical importance of nature, forcing us to realise that the wellbeing of the planet and our own individual wellbeing are the two sides of the same coin: one cannot exist without the other.Of course, there’ll be resistance to change and many vested interests doing their utmost to ensure that we only tweak the system at the margin, but what gives me confidence is this: the young generation will activate the Great Reset. The Milenials and particularly Gen Z are determined to enact (radical) change.

What is your personal favourite place to stay that’s trying hard to be accountable and transparent around sustainability with no green-wash allowed?
My favourite place to stay is the fabulous Mont-Blanc range. It’s as sustainable as it can be and cannot fall victim of greenwash. You can travel within that place with just a small tent, or of you prefer you can stay in a hut: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mont_Blanc_massif
It is also my office!

What legacy would you like to leave behind from your leadership?
I don’t consider myself as a leader. Apart from exceptional individuals who left an imprint on humanity, the idea that you can leave a legacy behind when you are a CEO or an entrepreneur seems ludicrous to me.

Who is your greatest influence? Best advice you have been given?
Ivan Turgenev: “Take what you can yourself, and don’t let others get you into their hands; to belong to oneself, that is the whole thing in life” (First Love). And more prosaically: Whatever the setbacks, you just have to keep going.

Your best advice to the young generations concerned about their future?
Scan all your horizons.

Any regrets?
Regrets are backward looking. I try to focus on what comes next.

Be One

Moving you from the core of your being, body and soul, the ‘Be One’ album by Nicoleta Carpineanu preserves the traditional folkloric instruments and songs from her homeland Transylvania in an electronic music platform, woven together to create a vivid tapestry of the human experience.

Folkloric music is an art form that preserves history and the stories and sounds of those that came before us. It provides an outlet for individuals across boundaries of race, class and location to honestly express their highest joys and hopes, and their deepest struggles and sorrows.  It brutally lays bare the core of human condition and emotion, powerful songs that remind us of the long road we’ve traveled and give us strength for the journey ahead.

Nicoleta, also known as Nico de Transilvania, is creating her own sound.  In the beginning, the music she played was influenced by her childhood memories of old, traditional folk, gypsy and fanfare music. Having travelled around the world and experienced different landscapes, environments and cultures, she is bringing together the best world music blended with electronic beats and heavy baselines. She calls this genre Folkloric Electronic, influenced by her ancestral roots and love of electronic music.

With the ‘Be One’ album, Nico has also launched the charitable initiative Forests Without Frontiers after recording the musicians in the forest of Transylvania.  All album sales will go towards planting trees in Transylvania in the area where the musicians live to preserve their environment, to bring nature back to life and people back to nature.

For your loved ones, gift a ‘Be One’ album for Valentine’s Day on February 14.  Listen, buy and download ‘Be One’ album HERE