This article first appeared in our Love issue of My Green Pod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 09 April 2021. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
Covid-19 has grounded us all. It has been great to watch emissions plummet, but the 90% reduction in air travel has also had a devastating impact on many international communities and industries.
Travel and tourism accounts for less than 3% of the world’s emissions in a normal year – slightly less than the I.T. sector’s 4% contribution. The impact of lockdown is tangible but we can’t expect all travel to end; instead, we need to innovate.
‘People are now more conscious than ever’, says Brad Frankel, co-founder of Flooglebinder. ‘We feel, and hope, that moving forward they’ll travel consciously – aware of both their social and environmental impact – and move away from traditional ways of travelling, such as all-inclusives and cruises.’
Flooglebinder launched as a travel company that would use conservation-based educational trips to make a positive impact on communities and habitats. It has recently evolved to offer curated family and group travel as well.
‘We’ve always had so many requests to expand our educational trips to families and groups of solo travellers’, reveals co-founder Ian Taylor. ‘Now more than ever, people want advice and hope. The educational sector is what we know best and we’ll continue to curate best-in-class conservation trips, but we want to reach a broader group of ethical travellers and offer a wider group of people the knowledge we have gained so far.’
Brad and Ian have incorporated conservation and changemaking projects into their adventures for many years; the trips they curate are based on projects that have real, lasting impact.
On a Flooglebinder trip you can help turtles in Greece or build classrooms, natural corridors and artificial reefs in Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The communities visited benefit hugely from the work the groups carry out, and the participants learn so much more about in-situ conservation work and global communities through real-life experience.
Brad and Ian know all about the importance of firsthand experience; many years ago they both completed marine research projects in South East Sulawesi, which is where their passion for conservation and changemaking began.
‘We understand the argument around the impact of travel on the environment’, Brad says. ‘It’s an issue we address regularly, and why we became the first specialist tour operator and travel company to become a B Corporation in 2016. These aren’t just holidays, they are adventures that build the conservation leaders of the future: our gamechangers.’
Brad and Ian have educated over 7,000 students on conservation and sustainability issues; hundreds of these young people have gone on not only to partake in future projects, but even carve careers in conservation. ‘These are very proud moments for us’, Ian reveals.
With Flooglebinder travel is as light as possible; flights are as direct as they can be and local providers, products and accommodation are always used. The company supports grassroots social and environmental projects that align with the UN’s SDGs, ensuring that money goes back into the local economy.
‘This is what being a B Corp is all about’, Brad explains, ‘looking after the stakeholders – not the shareholders.’
Flooglebinder is also a member of the UN Climate Now initiative; this means that, like its UK operations, all its trips are carbon positive.
Brad and Ian are currently helping to mitigate fear of travel while helping to support international communities affected by Covid-19. ‘We’re trying to work out how best to support travellers and these communities’, Ian tells us. ‘There’s light at the end of the tunnel; we’d love everyone to travel in a way that’s compassionate and kind.’
There’s an understandable fear around booking any trips at the moment, which is something Brad and Ian are trying to address. ‘We’ve tried to give assurance and security, offering 100% refunds and reschedules for trips’, Ian says. ‘We’ve also created a guide to help nervous travellers and have amended our Ts & Cs for complete transparency.’
Travel is one of the largest contributors to global GDP; the sector accounts for one in 10 jobs while also helping to improve health and education. ‘Travel has the ability to be the most positive sector on the planet’, Brad says; ‘we just hope that people travel the right way for a more sustainable future.’