Every rafting company must like the environment. They rely on a natural source of water, so of cooourse they are a “green” company.
The actual answer might surprise you. A lot of resources go into running an adventure tourism business and many of them choose to ignore their impact on the environment.
Wet Planet, however, knows that changing habits to create a sustainable business model and higher whitewater rafting standards is worth the time and effort. And now Sustainable Travel International can verify it.
The current “greening” trend has seemingly permeated nearly every type of business. Eager to satisfy the latest consumer craze, many companies boast “environmentally friendly practices.” However, few can actually prove it.
“It should be a given that businesses all protect the natural resources we depend on in the outdoor and travel industry,” comments Wet Planet owner Jaco Klinkenberg. “Especially since we all enjoy living, playing and working in them.”
Sustainable Travel International, or STI, aims to equip the savvy adventure consumer with more knowledge. As a global leader, STI promotes responsible and eco-conscious travel in both tourism companies and travelers themselves. After nearly a decade of working on sustainable development practices within the travel industry, STI has created an industry-wide standard know as the Sustainable Tourism Eco-Certification Program, also called STEP.
This program recognizes businesses who can put their money where their mouth is.
Are employees really recycling everything? Has the amount of fuel really been offset?
Are they really weighing all their trash to show a change?
STEP has cleared it all up.
Partnering with STI for the past two seasons, Nicki Lynch and Jaco Klinkenberg at Wet Planet painstakingly evaluated Wet Planet business operations, creating a new ‘Sustainability Manual’ with 26 different policies such as…
- A Chemical Management System
- A Reduction of Materials Programs
- Water Consumption and Management
- Water Conservation Activities
- Economic Development Plan
- Energy Reduction Plan
- And many more…
For instance, Wet Planet has recycled for years. With a new policy, however, they can evaluate the impact of this practice. “Weighing all our trash and recycling gives us a baseline measurement of recycled material diverted from the landfill.” explains Nicki Lynch, Wet Planet’s Sustainability Coordinator. “At first impression it seems too hard. But we put some thought into it, implemented a system for tracking, and now it is actually pretty easy!”
Other policies came natural for Wet Planet. “We already recycle, buy biodegradable cleaning products, use 100% recycled paper and bio-diesel. We are even 100% carbon neutral,” comments Nicki, making her job just a little easier.
The STEP framework allows travel and outdoor industries to prove their concern for the state of our environment. Giving more visibility to businesses who have truly committed themselves to sustainability helps, in turn, propel basic green principles. Customers can show their support for a green business model by giving only these companies business.
“Primarily we are going through the steps because it is the right thing to do,” notes Jaco. “Our way of operating will consistently meet established high whitewater rafting standards of sustainability, here on the White Salmon river and for our international river rafting trips as well.”
Perhaps other outfitters will follow and a new standard for sustainable business practices in the Washington river rafting industry will create a truly “green” tourism economy in the Pacific Northwest.
Susan Hollingsworth keeps Wet Planet news flowing all year in addition to leading kayak courses during the summer in the incredible Columbia River Gorge.