Whether you’ve always been a sustainability advocate or are just learning the ropes now, it’s clear that a sustainable future is the only future. But what about responsible travel? Everyone loves a good adventure, especially us. Unfortunately, unless we’re careful, tourism takes a big toll on our planet.
Today, the travel industry accounts for roughly 8% of all global emissions. That’s quite a bit more than many other economic sectors. Luckily, there are companies in the tourism industry doing all they can to reduce their carbon footprint. One of them, located among the fjords in Alesund, Norway, is built on sustainable principles and puts them into practice each day. Our intrepid content team visited this past fall and discovered how 62°NORD is creating authentic, earth-friendly experiences.
62°NORD: Where sustainability meets adventure
Named after its location (62 degrees north on the map – so really north), 62°NORD provides luxury escapes in the Alesund and Sunnmore regions – some of the most visited sites in Norway. What makes them so special? The spectacular fjords and magnificent mountains that surround them. You can go hiking, biking, sailing and even skiing in this region (yes, really). In fact, this action-packed place is home to the world’s lesser known alps: The Sunnmorsalpene. These snow-packed mountains are also an ideal winter destination for those who want to ski fresh runs on breathtaking trails – something that those of us based in Switzerland can never get enough of.
“Alesund could be the backdrop for a Nordic fairytale – with a modern plot twist.” - National Geographic.
Through its hotels and collaborations with local guides and businesses, 62°NORD seeks to give visitors deep experiences of this unique region. Read: The Viking adventure you’ve always wanted with the most breathtaking views and unique places to explore.
But what impact does adventure have on this remarkable landscape? 62°NORD offers accommodation in small, secluded communities where everyone is affected by everything that happens. In fact, the nearby Geirangerfjord is on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites. To preserve this region and keep these communities thriving, the company constantly seeks the most eco-friendly solutions. For the 62°NORD team, sustainability is a skill for survival. The company is very aware that the hospitality industry has a significant environmental impact.
“We acknowledge that folks need to fly here, creating a carbon footprint that needs to be mitigated.” - Gareth Brauteseth, 62°NORD
The work that the 62°NORD team is doing to mitigate impact is comprised of two main focus areas: making responsible choices and innovating new solutions. They apply this approach through different aspects of travel. These are all things to consider when planning your next adventure – to Alesund or elsewhere.
What we do during our vacation understandably affects the environmental impact of our trip. Whether it’s helicopter rides or a night out to the theatre, special services account for 8% of carbon emissions in the tourism industry.
One way to embrace adventure and cut down on carbon emissions is by making your expeditions human-powered. In essence, that means you do the work, not engines. With 62°NORD, for example, guests can bike, or set sail from each of the company’s properties to the other, making for fun, beautiful journeys in the Norwegian outdoors with little to no emissions. Other human-powered activities the company offers are hiking, kayaking and skiing in the winter season. With a backdrop like Alesund, who doesn’t want to go out and explore? Plus, these activities offer many other benefits. They spark creativity, lead to better health and increase our energy. Learn more about what the great outdoors can do for you in our article about finding inspiration offline.
According to Sustainable Travel International, food production contributes to about 25% of the world’s greenhouse emissions, and a large part of that is due to imports.
To reduce food-related emissions, 62°NORD offers home grown ingredients at all of its locales. One of their best-known restaurants, based at their Hotel Brosundet, is Apotekergata nº5. There, the chefs have created a “topographic menu”. Essentially, this means that all the food they serve is either grown or caught in the area. In fact, the head chef has been known to hunt for the meat himself. Talk about authenticity.
Lodging also plays its role in the tourism industry’s carbon footprint. When people move from one hotel to another in short periods of time, the hotel needs to wash the bedding, dry it, and clean the room for the next guest. All of these tasks require energy, which means more carbon emissions.
As a hotel company and travel agency, 62°NORD calculates the carbon footprint for all of its uniquely designed programs and creates longer itineraries to counteract that. It partners with local businesses and guides to create a variety of immersive experiences that keep people entertained and excited for extended periods of time. The more time people spend in Alesund and surrounding areas, the more memorable the experience and the less impact there is on the planet. Wins all round.
Getting from one place to the next is essential to travel, but the journey usually has a pretty big impact on our environment. In fact, from 2005-2016, transport-related emissions for tourism increased by over 60%.
At an industrial level, 62°NORD is partnering with some of the world’s biggest players in zero-emission travel. Its sister companies deliver hydrogen fuel cell systems to the shipping, aviation and automotive industries, so that one day, people won’t have to choose between the planet and traveling to Norway.
What we do now matters tomorrow
62°NORD is doing all it can to create sustainable experiences, and the good news is they’re far from alone in offering initiatives for responsible travel. Other providers around the world are increasingly offering solutions that combine big adventures with reduced carbon emissions. One of them, Kynder, offers a full guide of the most eco-friendly hotels and eateries worldwide, while another, Intrepid Travel, provides slow and sustainable travel plans that offset carbon footprints.
Each day more companies in the tourism industry join in on the journey towards net zero emissions. The future looks promising, but us travelers still have a role to play. We can decide on more eco-friendly adventures. We can decide to remain at destinations for longer periods of time. We can decide how we travel. And if we can get others to join us, that effect multiplies.
There’s still a long way to go before our trips are net zero. And while we’ll always encourage you to explore, we hope you’ll do it with our planet in mind.
Step into the Cloudaway
Meet the Cloudaway. It’s got an ultralight upper made with 90% recycled mesh and a vegan leather mudguard for added protection. It’s 100% recycled lining offers conscious comfort, so you can enjoy your travels and protect the planet all at once.