A SCOTS destination management company has become the first in the UK to be given carbon neutral accreditation.
Hello Scotland, which offers handcrafted, luxurious packages to corporate groups visiting Scotland, is working hard to tackle offsetting its carbon footprint in a number of ways, and has been now been awarded carbon neutral operations status by The CarbonNeutral Company.
Although business travellers have come particularly under fire for their carbon footprint, Hello Scotland believes it has found a way of addressing the balance of continuing to offer unique elite and exclusive incentive packages to the corporate sector, while tackling the concerns of impact upon the environment.
Ambassador for Hello Scotland, Bill Thomson, explains: “Being a destination management company, we have no alternative but to use coaches to transport clients, and it’s out with our control as to how clients get to Scotland, but we now record every mile that our trips cover across the country and we then offset this through a number of selected initiatives to promote sustainable energy through The CarbonNeutral Company.”
Bill reveals Hello Scotland was awarded this status after submitting company data to The CarbonNeutral Company, including all of Hello Scotland’s commuting figures, mileage, number of clients, where they were all staying and so on. The company’s annual operations carbon footprint was calculated – and they’ve now managed to offset this for two years running.
A key part of offsetting their carbon footprint was mitigating changes within the company, such as reducing paper wastage by more than 40 per cent over the past year and introducing a rigorous double-sided printing policy, as well as allocating ‘Green Champions’ on a monthly basis to take responsibility for waste disposal each week.
Further targets for this year are to not only invest in more recycled stationery, but to also reduce paper usage by a further 30 per cent by creating greener client facing concepts, and Bill says a priority is to communicate with suppliers to look at ways they can work together to promote greener options.
By bringing their efforts to the attention of suppliers – and clients – Hello Scotland hopes to at least make them more aware of reducing their carbon footprint, with the aim this will encourage more people to do their bit to preserve the environment and make Scotland a sustainable destination in ecological terms.
“We certainly don’t want to push what we’re doing into people’s faces and we know there’s a lot of scepticism over carbon neutral status, but small changes make a big difference – it’s simply not about paying a nominal figure to offload the guilt.
“On our trips, our clients get to see in practice what sustainability is all about – for example, the whisky distilleries that use natural resources but re-use and recycle wherever they can.”
For those clients that are keen to do their bit and get involved with Hello Scotland’s efforts, they’ll soon be given the choice of a ‘Green Upgrade’.
Bill explains: “We’re going to be offering options that are more ecologically friendly, such as using hotels that are more ecologically aware, and we’ll be able to let clients know the difference they’ll be making by upgrading to this level.”
In receiving carbon neutral status, this has also had a knock-on effect in Hello Scotland becoming much more involved in a national awareness campaign, highlighting not only the benefits to the environment, but the cost-savings that businesses can make.
Another big step for the company this year, as well as finding new ways to reduce their own carbon footprint and offset those made by their clients, is a grading from Green Tourism Business Scheme.
“This is really important for us and we’ll be working to meet the criteria of the scheme and the assessment it entails.”
So what set Hello Scotland on this challenge in the first place?
Adds Bill: “Through one of our team [project manager, Claire Scott], we have close links with an environmental board in Canada. Where they’re well ahead in terms of being ecologically aware – and that was one of the stimuli that gave us the idea of going doing this route.
Bill concludes: “We recognise that we have an integral responsibility in tackling the ever-present threats of climate change – and we’re very proud of the fact that we’re now recognised as being a carbon neutral operation.”
For further information, please contact Isla Buchanan at firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 0141 944 7224 or at Hello Scotland, 143 Dalsetter Avenue, Glasgow, G15 8TE.
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