It all started with a big dream: Amity Tours wants to become a Zero Waste Company. As simple as that. What might sound easy, is in fact the beginning of a long journey. A fascinating one without any doubt. Below, Amity Tours shares the start of this journey along with its current practices, projects, and goals for sustainability.
As a company offering responsible tourism in Chile’s Lake & Volcano District, Atacama Desert and Patagonia of Chile since 2003, we decided to take a new challenge towards becoming a Zero Waste Company. As a result, we are implementing several new measures:
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE AND MUCH MORE.
Tourism Declares Climate Emergency
While we were investigating how to become a Zero Waste Company, a whole new world opened up. We learned about sustainable practices for tour operators and found great local alternatives for our previous waste problems.
During these searches, we stumbled over the Tourism Declares Climate Emergency website. A global community has declared a climate emergency and came together to plan a better future for tourism. We immediately declared as Amity Tours and committed to act in order to cut global emissions in half over the next decade. We just finished our first Climate Action Plan.
Being part of the Tourism Declares Community means sharing ideas, challenges, and solutions so that together we can create a new, regenerative tourism industry built on the principles of climate justice.
During our journey, we read a lot about carbon footprint, how to offset it, or even how to remove existing carbon from the atmosphere. Carbon offset, carbon removal, carbon capture, carbon-neutral, climate-positive… A completely new area for all of us, and we got a little confused with all these different terms. In a few words, we would like to explain each concept in order to give you an idea about our decisions.
Offsetting your Carbon Footprint
Carbon offsetting is an internationally recognized way for companies or individuals to manage the carbon emissions that are not able to completely eliminate. The emissions are getting calculated and an equal amount will be invested in projects that reduce or remove emissions.
Need an example: It is like, eating a chocolate bar with 500 calories. Afterward, you bike to the Caburgua Lake and burn the 500 calories. That is how the actual impact (in terms of calories) of eating the chocolate bar would be zero.
Now let’s apply this concept to carbon offsetting: The chocolate bar in this case would be the carbon footprint and burning the calories is offsetting it into projects where carbon is getting removed from the atmosphere (by buying carbon credits from projects, such as reforestation, renewable energy).
Carbon Removal or Carbon Capture
Carbon removal means capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and locking it away for decades or centuries in plants, soils, oceans, rocks, saline aquifers, depleted oil wells, or long-lived products like cement. source: Tommorows Air
Getting Carbon Neutral
Carbon neutral means taking action to reduce and remove as much carbon from the atmosphere as an organization puts into it. Being carbon neutral means that an organization has a carbon footprint equal to zero. Also see, Neutral Together.
Getting Climate Positive
Getting climate positive is going one step further than reaching carbon neutrality. That can be reached by creating greater environmental benefits, than the actual carbon footprint. You can remove additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for example.
At Amity we are conscious of the environmental impacts as a business. That is why we need to reduce our own carbon footprint and offset our unavoidable emissions. Since the beginning of our trajectory, we have been focusing on responsible and sustainable tourism practices. A fact that also gets reflected in our Conservations Tours.
Amity Tours and Conservation Tourism
We love supporting projects, that are providing benefits to the local communities and environment. Here a few examples we have worked on during our 18 years:
Kütralkura – Chile’s First Geopark
An amazing example of how geosciences connect with local culture for the conservation of the geological and cultural heritage of this landscape in Chile’s Lake & Volcano District.
Mapuche Tourism – Valle del KuelThe objective of the project was to put in touristic value the heritage resource “kuel” of the valleys of Lumaco and Purén. A heritage considered by national and international archaeologists as one of the most important and unknown of the original Mapuche people.
Asi Conserva Chile and WWFThe project sought to value, through the design of tourism conservation products, private and community conservation initiatives that make up the trade association “Así Conserva Chile“. A 100% tour operator pilot focused on conservation tourism was implemented. Where we assured in it all the skills and abilities necessary to sustain itself over time.
A tour where you can discover the wonders that Charles Darwin saw on his journey to the south of Chile. Explore this fascinating territory of the Chilean rain forest, and watch the same species of flora and fauna described by one of the Fathers of Modern Science.
Route of Parks of Patagonia
Our most recent project is a 14-day Multisport Route of Parks, Patagonia. In this tour, you will discover Torres del Paine National Park, the lush and exuberant temperate rainforest of the Pumalin Park, and a stunning starting at the foot of active volcanoes covered by unique forests of giant Araucaria trees in Conguillío National Park.
Nature, diversity, local communities, and interaction with the culture of Patagonia, while giving back and supporting rewilding experiences led by our local experts. This is a featured program in some of the best parks that make up the Route of Parks of Patagonia and The Lake and Volcano District. An unforgettable multi-sport adventure where you can be sure to discover new paths in Patagonia!
In April 2021 the platform Wiñolfe Anumka has been launched. This brand-new project is the response to an inquiry we at Amity Tours made one year ago. We now get the possibility to offset our carbon emissions on a local basis. Wiñolfe Anumka is a Mapuche Pewenche community network offering reforestation of native forests through their own nursery network.
Beginning of 2020 we contacted our local partner, Rutas Ancestrales Araucarias to discuss a solution about offsetting our not avoidable carbon emissions on a local basis. We have been working together with the award-winning community-based project for many years, sending clients from all over the world, to connect with the local culture. We did share with them our vision, about a reforestation project in Kurarewe, located just a few kilometers away from our headquarters. After our first meeting, we invited a forestry engineer to join the project.
Together with a local company that is dedicated to landscape management, environmental education, and regeneration, we started working on gathering relevant and scientific information. We then calculated the CO2 emissions produced by Amity Tours (approximately 50 Ton CO2), and hence the number of native trees to be planted to neutralize these emissions. As a result, we learned that we must plant at least 14 tree clusters, each formed of 20 different native species, to be able to offset the 50 tons CO2 in the next 20 years. Together with Wiñolfe Anumka we will be working on the implementation of this great goal.
Local is our Solution
At Amity we are conscious of the environmental impacts as a business. That is why we need to reduce our own carbon footprint and offset our unavoidable emissions to support the transition to a low-carbon sustainable future. Indeed carbon offsetting alone won’t fix the climate crisis. Despite that, we are convinced that each step towards a climate-positive society is worth any effort.
At Amity Tours we want to make changes, share progress and solutions. It is one of our main goals to motivate other companies and individuals to join the Zero Waste Movement and to participate actively in the big challenge of changing unsustainable habits. We are not only a tour operator but also a consultant company and are aware of our responsibility by sharing practical knowledge.