In 2008 Hello Scotland were the first Destination Management Company in the UK to achieve CarbonNeutral operations status with The CarbonNeutral Company and later that year were also awarded a Silver Green Tourism Award with The Green Business Tourism Scheme.

But today, we’ve no intention of renewing our CarbonNeutral operations pledge. Here’s why….

Quick Fact: What carbon neutral actually means.

Becoming CarbonNeutral

I’ve always had an avid interest in green issues in my personal life so when I saw the opportunity to engage our environmental concerns at Hello Scotland I jumped at the chance.

Without much local support available or relevant to our company, in 2008 becoming CarbonNeutral operations through an internationally recognised carbon credit company seemed a good catalyst for the beginning of our green journey, and what a start it was!

Now, for those of you that are thinking of becoming CarbonNeutral, you should probably know up front that it’s a huge amount of work (sorry, but I’m all about being honest here!). You’ll need to be 100% committed to the project and you must have the authority and persuasion skills to implement change across your organisation.

So, my first task was to gather, collate and calculate our carbon emissions figures; including our electricity & resource usage, mileage and the operational emissions created as a result of each group that travelled in Scotland.  And with almost 100groups travelling per year, this was a massive ongoing task of gruelling analysis for me and the team…but totally satisfying once it was completed!

The carbon emissions created through our operations as a company were then translated by “the pro’s” into a carbon footprint.  We then “neutralised” our emissions by buying carbon credits which were invested into carbon capture projects abroad.

The next task was to create a system of aims and objectives (like “green KPI’s”/Key performance indicators) that would help us reduce our carbon footprint through 3 key areas: Reduce, Reuse & Recycle over the coming year and in advance of our next audit.

Post-neutral reflection

I guess we felt like we were on a roll after this, so it was time to look at other ways of using our newfound green power to make an impact.

Rather than only calculating and monitoring our carbon impact in isolation, we began to focus more on our local environment and subsequently recognised that our survival as a profitable business depends on the entire sustainability of Scotland’s tourism.

It was at this stage we wanted to join a local network of “greenness” to share good practice, learn, develop and be recognised for our dedication to a better environment to date.

The Green Tourism Business Scheme offered the ideal platform for this and we were awarded Silver in 2008- definitely going for gold next time!

How we see our responsibility today

Our view of a Greener Hello Scotlandhas changed considerably from our initial focus on improving the environment in 2007.

Over the last few years we’ve been able to see exactly where we can make the most impact (i.e. in our own back yard) and realised that the process of paying to neutralise our carbon emissions thus gaining the registered status did work in initially engaging us, but in fact it isn't as valuable to Hello as managing and monitoring our carbon reduction internally and using a “green investment pot” in supporting Scotland’s focus on becoming a sustainable travel destination.

Basically, we’ve realised that we can tackle the problem directly, rather than ‘treating the symptoms’.

As the centrepiece of an incentive travel supply chain, we’re in the unique position where we can engage, educate and influence both customers & suppliers about the importance of operating tourism in a sustainable way.

Sustainability is the key to our future, both for our green conscience and for our business operations.  Of course monitoring & reducing our carbon emissions is a big part of this, but our responsibility doesn’t end there.

To enable sustainable tourism in Scotland we must engage ourselves in buying green, selling green, educating our stakeholders and actively engaging and promoting sustainability.

So, what are we doing today?

Aside from following our original objectives of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and our Green Business Plan, we’ve developed a ‘Going Green with Hello’ initiative to engage, educate and promote sustainable travel, incentives and tourism within our supply chain.

The campaign operates an accreditation system to help us recognise the green efforts of our suppliers and, and offers support and guidance throughout their green journey.

Not only can those awarded actively promote their accreditation, the system also allows us to efficiently promote to our clients, our alignment with their own green policies.

What about you?

If you’re interested in improving your sustainability, sign up to our blog because I’ll be posting regular information(but not annoyingly often!) and quick pieces of advice on how to make your business greener for sustainable tourism.

If you’re a customer or part of the Hello supply chain and have green-related questions, I’d be delighted to hear from you! You can contact me on, gogreen@helloscotland.com.

Next time…

I’m going to take you behind the scenes at Hello Scotland to show you how I changed our office into a ‘greener environment’!

Claire
Hello Scotland’s Green Champion

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