A call to action to save our planet is spearheaded by Earth Day 2023, the movement born to create awareness and work towards a more sustainable future at a time when ‘sustainability’ hardly had the meaning it does today. Whilst we travel, there are many things we can do to help sustain our world so that future generations will inherit an Earth as beautiful and diverse as we found it.
Earth Day has been marked every year on the 22nd of April since 1970. Since its humble beginnings, it’s grown to be observed as a day of action by one billion people around the world. The aim? To create awareness and bring about positive change – no easy task. The day is marked to fight for a healthy environment through local, national and global policy changes.
So, how can those engaged in the travel industry possibly celebrate Earth Day 2023 when tourism and the transport it entails come with an undeniable carbon footprint? Should we stop travelling to save the planet, or only travel to the most sustainable destination there is (which, incidentally, we have)? Would that bring us closer to resolving the climate crisis? Or does it simply bring about negative side effects, such as pushing communities partly or entirely dependent on tourism into poverty? Will it ever become possible to find a balance that serves both interests? Earth Day 2023 seems a good time to shine a spotlight on all of this.
If history has shown us anything, it is that human beings have always travelled. We have moved around in order to evolve, connect, learn and trade. From indigenous communities that traversed the land to survive wet and dry seasons, to trade routes from China to the Roman Empire along the Silk Road and Nabeateans who crossed the deserts of Petra to build monuments. Whilst our motivations to travel might be different from those of our ancestors, the inherent need to seek new pastures remains within us.
So, this Earth Day, we urge you to tread lightly on this one Earth that is our collective home. Experiential travel encompasses everything we stand for – supporting local communities, championing female-led travel initiatives, promoting marginalised groups and building roads towards each other that we all feel safe to travel along. Roads that acknowledge our differences as we encounter them but make space for all our lived experiences. It is travel, after all, that broadens our horizons. It is only along these roads that we can hope to find common ground if we are to coexist.
With all of this in mind and to mark this special day of action, we welcome travel experience providers such as Secret Atlas, which is pioneering meaningful and immersive travel with the lowest impact on the environment. Whilst the brand offers travellers the chance to explore some of the most fragile parts of the Earth, from the Arctic to Antarctica, Greenland and Svalbard, a new approach to exploring the beauty that prevails is changing our experience of these regions.
Some of the super-exclusive tours with Secret Atlas only offer space for as few as 12 or up to 48 passengers, and its vessels produce 95% less NOx (nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide, both of which contribute to air pollution) than similar boats. Bringing travellers closer to encounters with wildlife in their natural habitat, Secret Atlas pursues the balance between the individual human need to travel and the larger collective need to protect the Earth. As we keep moving forward and continue along the paths that we have forged, all that is left for us to say is happy Earth Day 2023 – may you travel safely and tread softly wherever you go.
www.earthday.org | www.secretatlastravel.com
Photography by Lars Korvald and courtesy of Secret Atlas