Sustainability and Social Responsibility
We should speak plainly: our business providing adventurous photography experiences in Nepal is inherently conflicted and complex when it comes to sustainability. There is no escaping that it depends upon air travel, which, second only to having children, is the most harmful environmental action we individually make. It also depends on the integrity of glaciers and permanent Himalayan snowfields which are such a draw to our curious, photographic eyes and which our carbon emissions and subsequent climate impact fundamentally threaten.
While we travel for pleasure, something that is a privilege rather than a right, the impact of our travel affects some of the fundamental rights of the very people whose country and way of life we travel to witness. For example, drinking water, for which a billion people in the Indian subcontinent depend on glacial melt cycles – cycles increasingly threatened by anthropogenic climate change.
So, how do we tackle this complexity?
At PhotoJourney our aim is to provide amazing experiences whilst being as sustainable as possible. This means abiding by principles such a Leave No Trace, Treading Lightly and First Do No Harm.
To do this we are prepared to take risk and deviate from the so-called ‘safe’ normal path.
This means breaking from the ‘bottom-line fixated’ Business As Usual model and accepting that striving at every turn to be a sustainable and socially responsible business will cost us money. From printing leaflets, to providing sustainably sourced merchandise, to travel choices, it often costs more in time and money to make the right choices. But asking ‘Can We Afford To Do This?’ is the wrong question.
We ask “Can We Afford Not To Do This?”
and we believe that increasingly, you, our partners in this venture, will come on board with this mind-set shift.
So, what does this look like in practical terms?
It means that we don’t pick and chose where to make the right decisions for sustainability. It’s a factor in every decision at every level.
It means that we live small lives.
We operate from a tiny office.
Where possible we travel by bike and train.
When we’re on the road we stay in camper vans, freeing up money from the accommodation budget that gets reallocated to the sustainability budget.
We’re looking at ways to effectively offset the carbon from our air travel.
We look for partners who share our values and consciously avoid working with providers who don’t.
We pay more £ for our recycled-material flyers so that our forests pay less.
In Nepal we work with our partners at all levels in order to nurture better sustainable practice.
We chose which hotels to use on this basis.
We engage with our hosts in the Annapurna Conservation Area to make sure we are all adopting best practice.
We are looking at employing locals to carry efficient fuels to the remote areas that we visit so that we can protect the forests that would otherwise be felled for fuel. This keeps the forest where it’s needed and provides valuable employment opportunities.
In essence we are excited to facilitate amazing photography experiences but not at any cost. We believe it’s time to have the courage to do things differently, to shift away from Business as Usual and to be creative and thoughtful in minimising the negative impacts of our business whilst maximising the positives.
When you join a PhotoJourney adventure, you have the opportunity to do more than photography: you can be part of a growing community of change makers and trendsetters. Our quest for best sustainability practice and social responsibility is a work in progress. Perhaps you’ll see ways we could be doing better. We hope so and we look forward to hearing about it!