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Our Green Story: Spirit of the West Adventures
At Spirit of the West Adventures, we understand that many of our guests come on our kayaking tours in Canada and around the world to participate in a style of trip that has minimal impacts on the environment. While we follow established minimum impact practices during our tours, our ideals don’t stop at the back door. We firmly believe that a business can operate successfully and still have a minimal or positive impact on the environment and community in which we all live.
Our commitment to the environment
Spirit of the West Adventures has been a proud member of 1% for the Planet since 2007. As part of our commitment, we donate 1% of our sales (not just profits) to organizations dedicated to protecting and preserving the environment. Over the years, we have donated over $115,000 to many amazing non-profit organizations devoted to protecting British Columbia’s west coast. Donation recipients have included West Coast Environmental Law, Marine Education and Research Society (MERS), The Johnstone Strait Killer Whale Interpretive Center Society, and The Raincoast Foundation.
From our wilderness tour operations to day-to-day errands around our base on Quadra Island, approaching tasks with a minimal-impact approach is always at the forefront of our minds. Some of the key ways we minimize our carbon footprint include using solar panels to provide electricity at our basecamps and running back-to-back tours so that our vans and water taxis are never empty. On Quadra Island, we try to use e-bikes and trailers to run our local errands where possible and compost all organic waste produced on both our tours and from our base right on site. In order to minimize food waste, we follow up with guests to confirm dietary needs so that we can custom-pack food for each tour. We also encourage guests to offset their travel through reputable companies such as Ostrom Climate.
Our basecamps behind the scenes
With the establishment of our Johnstone Strait Ultimate and Whales & Wilderness Glamping basecamps, we made sure that everything we built can be removed one day to allow the site to return to its natural state. Our trails wind around beautiful towering trees and boardwalks and platforms to minimise the impact on the vegetation below.
We have designed our tours to be low-impact with thoughtful measures such as energy-efficient showers gravity fed from a local creek with on-demand heat, composting toilets that leave the surrounding land and water healthy, handmade bed frames and bedside tables from local beach wood built in-house and washing linens with eco-friendly laundry detergent strips which are then line-dried using the power of the sun.
Plastic waste is wreaking havoc on our oceans and coastal ecosystems. We have implemented steps to reduce the use of plastic in our operations and have banned the purchase of single-use items. In the fall of 2021, we coordinated a six-week-long marine debris clean-up among the Discovery Islands and recovered over 50 metric tonnes of debris including plastic, styrofoam, netting, tires, and scrap metal, more than half of which was recycled.
Reduce – We ask that our wholesale suppliers do not ship products with unnecessary, difficult-to-recycle plastic packaging.
Refuse – We use reusable mesh bags, cloth shopping bags, and milk crates to transport goods from the store to our headquarters.
Rethink – We use beeswax wraps, made in-house, to reduce plastic wrap use in our kitchens. We seek alternative packaging, like laundry soap strips to avoid plastic containers.
Reuse – When plastic Ziplocs or garbage bags are used, we do our best to clean and reuse them whenever appropriate.
Repair – We do a variety of on-site repairs to maximize our gears’ life before replacing them. If it is no longer fit for our use, we try to repair and sell used gear to give them a second life.
Recycle – Whatever we can’t reuse, we clean and take to a recycling facility.
Inspire – We sell plastic-free starter kits as a part of our merchandise to help guests try out alternatives to common single-use plastic items.
Industry involvement in conservation
Spirit of the West Adventures’ owners Breanne and Rick are both actively involved in a variety of environmental conservation associations.
Breanne serves as the President of the Wilderness Tourism Association (on board since 2012). Breanne is also the tourism representative on the advisory committee for the federal Marine Protected Areas process.
Rick is an industry representative for the Adventure Tourism Coalition and is Commercial Recreation and Tourism representative for the provincial Marine Planning Process. Most recently, Breanne was appointed to the BC Minister’s Tourism Engagement Council.
They are also founding members of the North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association, which was established to conduct conservation and business activities aimed at benefiting marine mammals, the economy, and the marine environment off northern Vancouver Island.
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