Our biggest challenge: Slow down and vote with your bum..

I’ve thought long and hard about creating a company that has a positive impact for our customer and the environment. Here are my thoughts on our biggest challenge on our environmental impact.

Tackle the big problem first

Travel is by far the biggest emitter of our trips and flights is the biggest culprit. Any eco initiatives that do not tackle this just seem like greenwashing. I see lots of travel companies claiming various green credentials and seem to forget about the fact their customers flew around the world to get there. We are very lucky that the train is a viable option to our destination so I feel it’s our responsibility to do everything we possibly can to make the most of it. 

Why not offset?

We thought about it. We may do it in the future but fundamentally reducing emissions is our number 1 priority and we are very hesitant about entering into offsetting initiatives. Lots of other ‘eco travel companies’ (why did I feel the need for the ‘’ ?) use them. It would be so easy. It would look great on the website. It’s easy to price it in and it would be a much easier sell to schools. However, I don’t feel they are right for BeVenturesome at this stage. It’s just not the solution to the situation the planet is in. 

So what is the challenge?

1.Speed

Flights are convenient. That’s why this is a challenge. The schedule is good from London to Geneva. Geneva is only 1h30 minutes away from Morzine.

2.Cost

This is a complex one. Flights are often cheaper but not always. Their speed can make trips come up cheaper as you can get more done for less nights away. Schools are very understandably price sensitive, especially at the moment.

3.SNCF (The French train operator)

SNCF don’t publish their time table or prices until 3 to 4 months before. This means we need to base our prices on estimates and predicted timetables. We need our school to be patient with this, especially in our first year of doing this

4. Encouraging schools without guilt tripping them

This is a tough balance. Not flying for environmental reasons is still quite a new concept and we need to appreciate that it takes quite progressive schools, parents and teachers to adopt it.

What are the figures

Average KG of carbon emitted per passenger of getting from London to Morzine

  • Eurostar – 23.3kg – 92% less than flying. 61% less than coach
  • Coach – 60kg 
  • Flying – 294kg

Calculations

What does getting the train to Morzine look like?

You leave St Pancras at 07:00 to 08:00 and arrive in Morzine at about 18:00 to 19:00. You only have one change at either Paris or Lille. Via Lille only needs a platform change (or a short walk) but has an hour longer coach transfer to Morzine. Via Paris has a shorter transfer but needs a metro across Paris. Via Paris is (probably) cheaper as well. 

Compared to Flights

It probably takes about 4 or 5 hours longer door to door to get the train compared to flights.

Compared to Coach

It’s about 5 hours less time compared to the coach. Coach has the advantage of being door to door with departure times of your choice.

Compared to both

You can get up and move around. You have more space. No luggage limits. You can take liquids. You see the countryside. Better for those that get travel sick or are scared of flying. Is breaking up the journey with a change a good thing? You only need to be there 90 mins before departure compared to 2 hours plus with flights.

The youth climate movement & EcoSchools

The youth climate movement is very impressive. EcoSchool is growing in popularity and more schools have eco or Sustainability advisors. Currently the way schools travel abroad does not seem to be getting much attention. Not flying is one of the most impactful things an individual (who flys!) can do. Young people are generally very conscious about the environment and they have to deal with the consequences for longer than we will. I feel a responsibility to do what we can for them. Schools taking the initiative and getting the train rather than flying is an environmental credential worth shouting about. 

Future

I dream about kids looking back, just like I do,  in 10-20 years from now on the adventures they had on one of our trips. I can also visualise them looking back and talking about how and why they got the train there and back in 2023 that was a very pogressive thing to do. I am hoping it will be normal by then!

Group Travel can be pioneer

The classic conundrum of our time. Is the responsibility down to individual consumers or governments to createt the systemic change?

I feel that business, groups and schools in our case can provide a very powerful intermediary and are in a great position to harness the power of numbers. Youthful numbers.

Vote with your feet (or bum?!)

I appreciate the view that ‘micro-consumerist stuff’ doesn’t seem to make much of a difference and we need systemic change. However,

A) Out of the micro-consumeristic stuff not flying is one of the least micro. 

B) Don’t fancy sitting outside the houses of parliament for days on end? Why not sit on a train rolling through the French countryside and let your money show ‘the system’ you want change.

Slow Down

In summary, I think the biggest challenge in mindset that’s needed to tackle this challenge and reduce the impacts of human made climate change is that of speed. Nearly all things that are bad for the environment tend to be to speed things up which is only….

The UK lowest impact school trip abroad?

Whilst I am hesitant about making wild claims, getting the train to the Alps must make your school trip the lowest impact school trip you can do abroad? Apart from getting the train to Paris I guess!

Slow Down & Vote with your Bum

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