Travelogix Presents… Trees4Travel
A Sustainable Approach to Business Travel
We know that sustainability is more than just a ‘hot button’ topic. It is a crucial talking point that will lead to the repair and restoration of our planet.
Although the aviation sector ‘only’ contributes 2% – 3% of the planet’s CO₂ emissions, we should still be more determined than ever to drive this number down and offset with true and tangible carbon offsetting programs and initiatives.
This is exactly what Trees4Travel are striving to achieve.
Born in 2020, with the backdrop of COVID-19 and a dire economic situation taking hold, Trees4Travel stepped forward into the world of sustainability. Their objective was simple: plant at least one tree with every trip that you take for the price of a coffee.
We sat down with co-founders Nico and Elkie Nicholas to find out more.
The Start of a Sustainable Journey
Logging onto our call with Nico and Elkie felt all too familiar at this stage of the year; 12 months or so of Zoom calls will do that to a person.
However, seconds into the call we are greeted with smiles and a sense of enthusiasm that is sometimes hard to convey over these ‘all-too-used’ digital platforms – but they cracked it.
Trees4Travel have a simple, understandable and affordable proposition:
What’s more, customers can see the locations of the trees they plant, monitor their growth and see how much CO₂ their trees have absorbed each month.
We asked Nico what the impact of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns had on his vision for the business.
Nico commented: “We realised just how important travel is to people – it is important for our mental health and feelings of engagement with other cultures. Business travel will also remain a very important industry economically.
“We are social creatures and there is a social need to go and meet clients, or more broadly – people!”
This understanding of the importance of travel is a key defining factor in their journey. It is why they have created a brand specifically for the travel industry.
Tree Planting – A Carbon Offsetting Initiative
Elkie explains that one of the inspirations in starting Trees4Travel was an article written back in 2019 by Damian Carrington, Environment Editor at the Guardian.
He cites Professor Tom Crowther’s work in ecosystem ecology and global forest mapping, which states that a worldwide planting programme could remove two-thirds of all the emissions from human activities that remain in the atmosphere today.
Research has been shown that outside of urban and agriculture areas, there are 0.9 billion hectares of land in which we could plant around 1 trillion trees.
If these areas could be protected in the long term, the soils and vegetation could capture 30% more excess carbon from the atmosphere.
However, I wanted to question Nico and Elkie about the immediacy of this strategy for restoring balance in the environment when, quite frankly, trees take time to grow. Does planting trees have the immediate impact some seek?
Nico replied: “Trees do have an immediate impact as they start absorbing the CO₂ right away.
“However, if we are talking about an immediate impact – then the solutions are more drastic and wholesale; totally stop travelling, stop deforestation and stop using energy.
“Our view is that if this solution isn’t immediate enough, what would be an immediate ? It is not reasonable to think that people will fully stop travelling.
“We can reduce our emissions by travelling more mindfully. We can also look at the type of transport we take, the type of accommodation we use as well as the length of stay – these are just some ways in which we could positively impact our total emissions
A May release of Science.mag.org states that “scientists know of no other current carbon drawdown solution that is quantitatively as large in terms of carbon capture”
Nico continues: “We want to make travel more sustainable and tree planting – for both the short and long term
It is also important to note that Nico and Elkie’s business only works with verified and vetted plantation partners, who plant indigenous trees with the highest environmental impact.
So, how has the travel industry responded to Trees4Travel?
“Our biggest, and most positive surprise has been how receptive the industry has been to us” said Nico.
“TMCs (travel management companies), travel technology companies and corporate clients are all starting to welcome simple yet tangible sustainability programs into their worlds.”
Trees4Travel, Sunways Business Travel and Travelogix – A Sustainable Partnership
Mark Colley, MD at Sunways Business Travel, was an early adopter of this sustainable solution and together with Travelogix, they were to offer this to their wider client portfolio.
Mark commented: “Sunways Business Travel has long since recognised the importance of supporting our customers’ social responsibility policies.
“In the past, this simply meant tracking and reporting on the CO₂ emissions for their travel. Now, as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are experiencing a far greater emphasis on solving the impact that travel has on the environment”.
This need for a workable, cost-effective and authentic solution led them to Trees4Travel.
“Trees4Travel’s ethos of planting indigenous forests, which restore biodiversity and the natural ecosystem, provided instant appeal to us and resonated with our own environmental beliefs.
“The simplicity of their solution was also highly attractive to us – what could be easier than planting trees to offset carbon emissions?”
Mark explains the CO₂ offsetting solution had to support their complex booking and reporting systems, which is why they bought partners at Travelogix into the conversation.
“We knew that presenting this to our corporate customers in a coherent format would be the difference between success and failure, and this was why we asked them to join us.
“The data had to be accurate, reliable and accessible, and that is what the guys at Travelogix do brilliantly.”
With accurate data through Travelogix and their partnership with Trees4Travel, Sunways Business Travel will be playing their part in creating a world where forests are expanding and not shrinking.
In having the pleasure to talk with Nico and Elkie at Trees4Travel, you get the impression this is more than just running a new business venture.
This is their mission, one that resonates deeply.
In Nico’s words: “We almost have a responsibility to humanity and our planet to get this right”.
They are intent on forming partnerships, as we have seen, and they are more eager than ever to get their simple and tangible solution out there to the wider travel community.
It will be interesting to see the growth of this company as we see more sustainability practises coming into play across all sectors.
With Covid-19 playing a huge role in the kickstart that sustainability needed – we should see a greener approach in 2021 and beyond, which in turn, will lead us into a more sustainable future in travel.