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AUTOPIA TOURS IS GOING GREEN

#thinkgreenautopia

Think Green Initiatives for Going Green – Our planet is the most precious resource we have and one worth fighting for!   Here at Autopia Tours we are committed not only to showcasing the wonders and beauty of nature with our guests, but also ensuring they are preserved and cared for well into the future;  we believe future generations should have access to the same natural assets as the current generation. 

That’s why we have strong environmental sustainability ethics ingrained into all areas of our business.  With Autopia Tours excited to report a 100% offset of all transport emissions for 2016-2017 financial year, equivalent to the removal of 209.32 tonnes of CO2-e from the atmosphere!  We as a team are all working hard to ensure everything, from the paper we use, to the vehicles we tour in, have the smallest impact possible.  

We are also proud supporters of many programs committed to the conservation of natural, cultural and social assets.   

If you’d like to know more about these programs, or how you can get involved too, follow the links below or send us an email at thinkgreen@getlosttravelgroup.com.au.

“We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”.

What is climate change and what does it mean for us?

Climate change is one of the largest challenges facing Earth and mankind today.  It does not only mean warmer average temperatures across the globe; climate change could lead to all of Earth’s natural systems becoming altered and significant problems in the future.

Climate change is the warming of average temperatures across the globe.  Although the Earth goes through natural phases of warming and cooling, the rate at which the temperature is now increasing is faster than anything seen previously.  There is now strong scientific evidence this global warming trend is linked to human activity.  The burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which are responsible for Earth’s warm climate.  As the amount of these gases increases, the amount of solar radiation trapped inside our atmosphere increases, causing the warming trend.  We have also interrupted the natural carbon cycle with the amount of deforestation occurring, as there are less plants to absorb the carbon from the atmosphere than ever before.

The increase in average temperatures affects all of Earth’s natural systems.  As the temperature increases, the amount of evaporation over oceans increases, changing the rainfall pattern.  It is expected we will experience larger and more severe weather and rainfall events as a result.  Ocean temperatures are also increasing, causing ice sheets in the polar regions to breakdown and melt, resulting in large influxes of freshwater into the oceans.  This not only causes sea levels to rise, but the reduction in salinity also has the potential to change ocean currents, affecting our climate further.

These potential changes can severely change how we are able to travel and live.  The beautiful coastal regions we currently enjoy are at risk of flooding.  Wildlife we journey to view are at risk of losing their homes or becoming extinct.  Bushfires and severe storms could destroy our natural wonders.

Climate change is certainly a huge challenge, however being aware of the problem also gives us the power to make a difference now for a better future.

What is at risk?

Climate change has the potential to impact on all parts of the natural environment.  As a country gifted with numerous natural wonders, many of which draw tourists across the world to visit, Australia has high stakes. 

The beautiful and iconic 12 Apostles may be lost due to changing sea levels and rising levels of ocean acidity.  Coastal wonders such as Loch Ard Gorge and Phillip Island could be lost to rising sea levels.  Increasing temperatures pose a threat to the amazing mountain ash forests, Grampians National Park and the Otways from the increased risk of bushfire.  The rising temperatures could also mean we lose our wonderful winter snow season in the alps.  Once these regions are gone, they are lost forever.  That is why we are committed to ensuring our tours are conducted in the most ecologically sustainable manner possible.

Habitat destruction and human interference are also threatening our wonderful and unique wildlife.  Australia has the highest extinction rate of any continent, something we are committed to halting!  We currently have 1700 species and ecosystems listed as threatened, however there are steps we can all take towards reversing this trend.  Being aware of what is at stake is the first step.  Recognising the many animals that need our help and understanding the processes involved in helping ensure their survival is invaluable.  Zoos Victoria are involved in many wildlife conservation programs within the regions we visit. 

How are Autopia Tours minimising our contributions towards climate change?

Autopia Tours recognises, that as a transport based operator, we must realise any potential changes that can be made to our operations which will reduce our contributions towards greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

First and foremost, we recognised that our vehicles are the largest contributor of greenhouse gases from our business.  Therefore, we have proudly partnered with Greenfleet and are committed to completely offsetting all of our vehicle and transport emissions each year.  Offsetting ensures the greenhouse gas contributions we make can be absorbed through forest protection and tree planting programs.  For more, see Greenfleet Carbon Offset Provider.

Being a responsible operator

We understand that our responsibility as an operator extends well beyond just providing a safe and enjoyable tour for all our guests.  While this is our focus, operating in a responsible manner involves so much more.  We operate across many environments that are each significant and fragile in their own ways. Responsibility, for us, means protecting the natural environments we visit, minimising our contributions towards climate change, protecting and celebrating the diverse cultures we encounter, providing a safe and enjoyable operating environment for all, ensuring our operations also provide benefits to the regions we visit, ensuring equal opportunity is available to all, following minimal impact best practices and being open to new and innovative changes.  Autopia Tours are committed to ensuring tourism in Victoria remains a sustainable and healthy industry.

100% Offset Carbon Emissions

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We are now proud partners with Greenfleet, an organisation which offsets transport carbon emissions.  Being a travel and transport oriented company, we believe this is a huge step forward in reducing our ecological footprint and are very excited to have joined this program. 

Emissions from vehicles and flights contribute to the greenhouse effect and hence lead to climate change and global warming.  Offsetting with Greenfleet supports programs such as tree planting along the Great Ocean Road.  Plants absorb carbon and emissions from the atmosphere, so programs like Greenfleet’s helps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases remaining in the atmosphere, neutralising our vehicles contributions towards climate change.

Autopia Tours is excited to announce we have offset 100% of all our transport emissions for 2016-2017, equivalent to the removal of 209.32 tonnes of CO2-e from the atmosphere.  

By choosing to tour with Autopia, our customers are contributing to the restoration of native Australian forests through Greenfleet initiatives and are having minimal impact towards climate change.

Click here to view our Greenfleet Offset Carbon Emissions Certificate for 2016-17.

We take our commitment to the environment seriously!

Supporting the WWF & PINP

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 Our Phillip Island day tours now include entry into Phillip Island Nature Parks’ Antarctic Journey, an interactive and informative display about the Antarctic region.  This is a project managed by Phillip Island Nature Parks in partnership with the WWF, with the aim to increase awareness of environmental issues around the Southern Ocean.   Locally, the WWF are focused on protecting creatures of the Southern Ocean through sanctuary zones and have so far established 2 of the world’s largest marine sanctuary zones in the Antarctic region.  Seals, whales, penguins, sea birds and fish are all benefitting from WWF programs. Phillip Island Tours, Penguin Parade Tour, Environmental

We are proud to be supporting such a vital cause and hope that our guests depart with a deeper understanding of the issues this part of the world is facing.  Part of their ticket sales also goes to the WWF.Phillip Island Tours, Penguin Parade Tour, Environmental

Community Conservation Programs

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We also recognized the importance of working within our local area.  Thus, when we contacted our local council, Hobson Bay City Council, we spoke with them about programs in our local area that we could become involved with.  Now working closely with their conservation department, Autopia Tours have helped our local community through their tree planting and revegetation program.

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We have so far helped replant some of the Paisley Drain Reserve area, with over 600 new plants becoming established which will help protect the soil and provide habitat for wildlife.  This site was once considered highly degraded, however through planting programs such as this, it has now become a valuable wetland and mangrove conservation area and is home to many bird species.

Renewable Energy

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While coal provided people the opportunity to revolutionise industry in the past, we understand it is no longer the way for the future due to its finite and environmentally degrading nature.  Therefore, we are proud to be moving our depot over to a solar system.  After consultation with Cherry Energy Solutions earlier this year, we have decided to invest in the installation of a solar system at our depot that is large enough to supply us with renewable energy for all of our power needs.  This is in conjunction with our initial consultation over minimising our overall energy use.  By 2018 Autopia Tours will proudly be 100% supported by renewable energy captured on site.  Not only will this reduce our negative environmental impacts, it has also been forecast this will be a highly cost-effective solution over the long term.

Wipe for Wildlife - Recycled Paper

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Wildlife is so important to us here at Autopia Tours, we have chosen to Wipe for Wildlife at the workplace, using only recycled toilet paper and tissues!  We’ve chosen Who Gives A Crap, who not only protect our precious forests, but also give back to the world by helping struggling communities to develop much needed basic facilities for hygiene and sanitation. 

Thousands and thousands of invaluable trees are cut down annually just to make toilet paper.  The trees we are losing provide homes and food for wildlife, absorb carbon from the atmosphere and prevent soil erosion.  Who Gives A Crap produce their toilet paper from recycled textbooks and office paper; materials that have already been removed from the environment.  By choosing recycled toilet paper, we reduce the need for deforestation of bushland and habitat.  If you would like to go only recycled also, visit Zoos Victoria or Who Gives A Crap to sign up!.

Planet Ark's - National Tree Day

Protecting our remaining forests is only part of the solution towards climate change issues; another is to rebuild those forests that have been destroyed.  We decided it was time to start giving back to the regions that have supported us by joining Planet Ark in their tree planting days.  Their program aims to replant Australia with native vegetation which are drought resistant, protect waterways from sediment fall and erosion and also encourages native wildlife to return to areas they had abandoned.  

Our staff have had fun getting outdoors as a team, getting their hands dirty and knowing they’ve made a difference for the better.  If you’re living in Australia and are keen to get involved also, you can register your interest to take part in one of their tree planting days through their website.

Veggie Garden Initiative

Many of our employees live in and around the city area, so we decided to build a communal staff vegetable garden on site so all staff are able to enjoy the benefits of fresh herbs and vegetables!  Environmental, Think Green, Veggie Garden InitiativeWe also wanted to do this as sustainably as possible, therefore we decided to only use recycled materials and organic soil. Discarded tyres have made great planting boxes for many of the vegetables and these have the added benefit of remaining warm which helps the plants to grow. Environmental, Think Green, Veggie Garden InitiativeWe then sourced recycled materials through Planet Ark, who produce planting boxes from 100% discarded ink cartridges.After establishing the garden, we decided it was best to update our waste management policies also, by incorporating a compost system as well.  Environmental, Think Green, Veggie Garden InitiativeAll staff are now encouraged to dispose of all their organic waste, such as food scraps, into the compost system so that valuable nutrients are recycled back into the ground and feed our new garden as well.

Supporting Wildlife Victoria

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Wildlife Victoria are an amazing organisation providing care for sick and injured wildlife across our state by providing an emergency response service for those who come across wildlife in need of assistance.  Unfortunately our guides come across many injured animals in their journeys.  As such, we are proud to support this vital service by raising awareness for their cause and through fundraising activities each year.  We also invite a Wildlife Victoria representative to host an information session for our staff on how to provide immediate assistance to wildlife in need. 

If you come across sick or injured wildlife in your travels, contact Wildlife Victoria for assistance on 1300 094 535.

Carbon Neutral Printing

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Printed brochures are a great way for us to communicate with our guests, however they are also resource intensive to produce and distribute.  They consume large amounts of paper and ink and may only be used the one time before they are thrown out!  We decided there had to be a better way while still being able to maintain communication with potential guests.

We discovered Mystique, a printing company that share our strong environmental values!  By switching our printing needs to Mystique, Autopia Tours’ brochures are now made with all recycled paper and natural inks and by a company that completely offsets all of their carbon emissions also!  Mystique are also local for our business, reducing the intensive energy consumption required for long transportations.

We would like all this effort to continue on down the line too, so we also ask our guests to please by mindful when disposing of brochures they have finished with.  We suggest handing them back to where you picked them up from or passing them on to other travelers who may find them useful also.

Workplace LED Lights Installation

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 We want to be there for our guests when they need to contact us and that means our office remains open for the majority of the day.  This requires a lot of energy use through lighting for the offices.  We recognized there had to be a more efficient way of doing things, so we contacted the Hobson’s Bay City Council, who recommended we switch all of our lighting over to energy efficient LED lights.

The process caused minimal disruption to our operations and we have seen our energy consumption drop by around 65% as a result.  We are now even looking at replacing traditional on/off light switches in areas such as the kitchen, bathrooms and walkways with either timers or sensors to ensure they are off when not in use, further reducing our energy use.

If you are looking to reduce your energy consumption or Light$mart Program, try contacting your local council to find out more about what options are available for your region.

Koala Clancy Foundation

Koala Clancy Foundation, Environmental, Going Green, Think GreenAutopia Tours love wildlife and sadly, some of them are struggling through disease, habitat destruction and declining population numbers.  

Therefore, we felt it was our duty to help protect some of the wildlife that makes our tours so special!  Our mountain biking tours visit one of Victoria’s key koala habitats, the You Yangs Regional Park.  We are therefore proud sponsors of the Koala Clancy Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation passionate about the health and well-being of wild koalas in this region.  They aim to raise awareness of the issues koalas are facing in Victoria and to get visitors involved through education, research and how to responsibly view and interact with koalas.Environmental, think green, Trips & tours

A portion of every ticket for our mountain biking tours goes straight towards the Koala Clancy Foundation, so as a guest of this tour you can be assured you are contributing the sustainability of koala populations in the region. 

Autopia Tours have also assisted in tree planting days in the You Yangs through our university programs.

Waste Management

We recognise that there could be significant amount of waste produced through our business operations.  We therefore needed to look at each area of the business and realise ways to minimise the amount of waste we produced.  Moving to digital feedback forms, introducing a large onsite recyclable skip, introduction of an onsite organic waste compost system, daily food ordering, ordering non-perishable goods in bulk, carrying drinking water on board our buses for our guests and introducing a policy of not printing unless necessary and avoiding any single use or disposable items has drastically reduced the amount of waste we produce daily.  Instead, Autopia Tours have created a culture where waste is minimised through either reduction, reuse or recycling wherever possible.

Why do we need to travel responsibly?

Many of us travel to enjoy Earth’s natural beauty.  We fly across the world to visit beautiful beaches, glimpse unique wildlife and marvel at ancient geological features.  These pristine environments are also the ones that are most at risk of degradation from outside influence though.  Sadly, our love for these places is sometimes what puts them most at risk through unsustainable practice.  As a traveller, you can minimise your impacts by choosing responsible accommodation and tour providers.  Ecotourism providers are those that recognise the environmental risks and manage their operations in a manner that minimises risks and also promote sustainable travel with their guests.  You can find these providers on Ecotourism Australia’s Green Guide. 

Being aware of how the choices you make can potentially impact the environment is essential.  Zoos Victoria have also outlined several ways you can Act for Wildlife that will help protect our wonderful animal species into the future.

How can you be a responsible traveler?

 As a traveller, there are certainly practices you can adopt which will minimise the impact you have towards climate change as well.  

  • Washing and drying of linen at hotels and hostels uses vast amounts of water and energy. You can help reduce this by using your towel for more than one day. 
  • Choose public transport when in a foreign city, rather than private vehicles. It will not only help save the planet, it can save you money and give you a more authentic experience of the city itself as you see how the locals live.
  • Brochures are a great way of discovering what there is to experience in a foreign place. Most of the time though, these are thrown out after only one use.  Most places offer online copies of their brochures now.  If you prefer the traditional paper style, be sure to return them to an agent once you have finished or hand them over to another traveller.
  • Souvenirs are a great reminder of your travels, but it’s important we know what we are supporting when we buy them.  We should never purchase items that are made from threatened or endangered species.  Buying these items creates further demand for such products and could lead to the loss of species.
  • Try to choose your accommodation and tours from businesses who actively try to minimise their environmental footprint. In Australia, you can find these on EcoTourism Australia’s Green Travel Guide.

You can even make changes at home too.  How large is your ecological footprint?  Try the WWF’s footprint calculator to find out: http://www.wwf.org.au/get-involved/change-the-way-you-live/ecological-footprint-calculator#gs.5RUmP80

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