TRAVELLING WITHOUT A
TEXT / PHOTO’S // MATT O’LEARY / MARCEL PABST
Even though we might complain about the cold our winter landscapes are extremely beautiful and valuable. Wouldn’t it be great if we could focus on protecting and enjoying them at the same time?
Our understanding of what makes a premium experience is getting closer to care and sustainability. And people are supporting this with their wallets – a recent Nielsen survey revealed that 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products.
Twenty years or so ago, our impression of eco-travel was a bit – well, corny. It might have involved home-made clothing and the smell of cooking lentils. But things have changed considerably since then. Have you ever seen a “LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS” sign on a beach? When the UN nominated 2017 as its year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, its #travelenjoyrespect campaign lifted this memorably simple message to a global level.
“Consumers are far more focused on sustainability, particularly young people.” says Stuart Templar, Director of Sustainability at Volvo Cars. “The inherent sustainability of products, as well as a company’s approach towards sustainability, are increasingly driving purchasing decisions.
Here at Volvo Cars, we feel we’re well placed to meet these changing demands. We’re focused on reducing emissions, increasing the amount of sustainable material within our vehicles, and are committed to electri cation. We strive to minimise our environmental impact across the company, which is why we’re aiming to have climate neutral manufacturing operations by 2025. For us, sustainability is not only the right thing to do, but makes sound commercial sense too.”
SETTING UP CAMP
Of course, good intentions are all very well, but it’s the end result that matters – particularly if you’re thinking about your well-deserved vacation. But if thinking about holidays and the “S-word” conjures up images in your mind of repits and freezing tents, you’re about as far away from today’s options as it’s possible to be.
Take the Whitepod eco-hotel in Monthey, Switzerland. Built from scratch to a space-age pod design, it wears its eco-tourism credentials on its sleeve. The food, heating, design and transport are all designed to have as little impact on the snowy wilderness as possible. Pellet heaters provide the warmth in the futuristic pod cabins, while even your mandatory walk to the hotel, through a silent, snowy forest, gives you the chance to soak up some of the local beauty.
Booking a room at the Whitepod also gives you access to the private slopes owned by the resort. Well-established destinations are now also changing direction to meet the new environmental standards. One of these standards, the Flocon Vert (Green Snow ake), judges resorts on a strict set of eco- credentials and ethical factors. It was set up by winter sports group Mountain Riders to let like-minded adventurers know whether or not their favourite spot was a good place to visit in every respect. Four French resorts – including Vallée de Chamonix – have already been awarded the green snow ake label. Now, a few of these locations are priced outside of a normal holiday budget.
You get what you pay for, of course, but sometimes you want a short winter break without paying for a private ski slope. The good news is that some of the more democratic travel resources have also put sustainability at the core of their business. For example, Tripadvisor have rolled out their GreenLeaders programme across Europe, covering the whole range of properties from B&B to luxury hotels. Search for “green hotels” and choose a location to see what’s available in the region.
“If travel lets us broaden our horizons, then sustainable travel is how we protect those horizons for the next generation.”
Finding a place to stay sustainably is one thing. The clothing and gear you wear to protect you from the cold and rain is another. Fortunately, many of the outdoor wear manufacturers like Houdini (read our interview with them on the next page) put sustainability and cleanliness right at the heart of what they do. Fittingly for winter travel, many manufacturers use high-performance synthetic insulation in their jackets and trousers to replace down, or at least use fully traceable feathers that are a by-product of the food industry. (Programmes like Track My Down are good places to start finding out more about this.)
Then, you actually have to get from one place to another. There are options open to you when you’re trying to be more responsible. Search engines and tools like Momondo frequently highlight inspirational eco-friendly destinations and attractions. But it’s no longer enough for us to “choose our battles” – assuming that because your hotel recycles its waste, you don’t have to pay attention to any other aspect of cleaning up your trip. Fortunately, organisations like Sustainable Travel International are teaming up with travel operators to address both the means of travel and the overall perception of eco-tourism.
Volvo Cars is committed to making transport cleaner and safer. For example, we’re working towards getting a million electrified cars on the road by 2025, and have a vision that by 2020 no-one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo. And if people keep voting with their feet for better sustainable transport options, then green travel will rapidly become the norm. Until then, keep considering the cleanest options for your winter holiday, and you’ll be sure not to leave any dirty footprints of your own in the snow.
5 WAYS TO ECO-HACK YOUR JOURNEY
Taking your Volvo on holiday with you? It’s now easier than ever before to make your long car journeys cleaner and more fuel-efficient.
Pack as lightly as you can, because a lighter load also means better fuel economy. Consider instead renting your gear and specialist clothing near your destination: as well as reducing weight, it’s also a smarter use of resources.
Keeping the right speed – between 50 to 80 kph – saves fuel. “Hypermiling” apps like greenMeter and Tripalyzer give you live updates on how eco-ef ciently you’re driving.
Navigate smart. Sitting in a queue of traffic increases your fuel consumption – using satnav will help you avoid congestion, even if it’s a route you’ve driven 100 times before.
Make sure your car is in great shape before a long journey. A tuned-up powertrain and tyres at the right pressure will mean you use less fuel on your journey.
Consider the other things you do in your car. Use windscreen fluid and the car’s heating when necessary, instead of all the time.