Environmental & Sustainability Policy
Environmental & Sustainability Policy
Making Tourism Better - Together – A Statement of our intent
At Encounter Walking we work hard to provide sustainable and ethical walking holidays. We have a responsibility to do whatever we can to make the world a better place for future generations.
Travel is a privilege. It offers the opportunity to discover the world, to make new connections and learn new things. But with this privilege comes a responsibility to do our best to protect our world, support all who live on it and consider our impact on it.
In The Office
As part of our commitment to improve our world we are working hard to minimise our own impact on the environment. The team here at Encounter Walking Holidays are committed to environmentally responsible working and everyone is encouraged to consider the environment in all working practices and to make suggestions for improvement.
Working from home is supported to save resources used on journeys to work
All lights, computers and heaters are switched off when the office is unoccupied.
Our office is in a modern building with insulation to reduce energy wastage.
We have no single use cups.
We use fair trade products in the office.
We are working to ensure staff pensions are placed into ethical investment funds.
We have a named compliance officer responsible for monitoring office practices to make sure they are in line with our sustainability goals.
We have moved to paperless working. We use the minimum amount of paper and are striving to remove paper entirely from day-to-day working. The very small amount of paper generated by the office is recycled.
All glass, paper, plastic and cardboard is recycled using our local recycling facilities
All our information is held on our website. We no longer produce brochures for customers
Leaflets are printed on recycled paper
Printed materials are sent using recycled eco-friendly packaging
Unless otherwise requested, all communication with our customers is by email
All internal communications are electronic
All our emails include a green email footer to discourage printing
We know most of our customers want to have a positive impact on the places they visit while minimising the impact on the environment. Our holidays by definition are focused on the most sustainable mode of transport there is – walking. But of course there is more to our holidays than that.
There is no better way to experience an environment than by walking through it and we ask our walkers to respect the well-known adage that travellers should ‘take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints’.
We issue our walkers with the latest maps and guidebooks to ensure they are well informed about the area and the route and are less likely to wander off the trail and damage the wider infrastructure.
When walkers have finished we ask them to donate their guidebooks and maps so they can be used again by passing them to a second hand bookshops or donating them to accommodation providers.
We provide all walkers with an up to date detailed itinerary by email covering issues on the path to be aware of including diversions due to erosion or warnings to be careful in fragile parts of the paths. By making sure we commit to review and provide this on an individual holiday basis we can be sure that the most up to date information on protecting the trail is with those visiting.
We also provide our own Walkers Information Guide which covers useful information for our walkers as well as what we expect as tour operators from those walking in the region. These include things like respecting the Environment by following the Countryside Code, the equipment required, realistic expectations of local accommodation and much more. As a result of our information our walkers are much better prepared and educated for their adventure and much more aware about their impact on the environment they walk through.
We encourage walkers to reuse water bottles. On the trail we encourage the use of water refill stations. https://www.refill.org.uk/ is an app which can be used to find out where to refill bottles and we are supporting wider schemes on the trails we use, to help reduce single-use plastic bottles.
Getting to and from our walks
We encourage travellers to arrive by public transport wherever possible. Not only is this better for the environment but it helps local people as well by keeping local services operating that we can all use.
We offer Rail To Trail walks which reduce the carbon footprint over cars or planes.
We know that when coming from overseas it is difficult to avoid flying. But for those coming from Europe there are other options you might want to consider such as the Ferries and Eurotunnel and if so you can read more on this Flight Free Journey Planner: https://www.greentraveller.co.uk/flight-free-journey-planner.
In the walking areas we help walkers to use the local public transport where it is available and we make that information available in our itineraries. We encourage walkers to use bus and train options where these exist instead of taxis which have a much higher cost to the environment.
We don’t use Airbnb accommodation or Booking.com private hosts for our walkers. Airbnb accommodation is not subject to the same regulatory requirements as registered B&Bs and hotels. Currently there is no requirement in England to register an Airbnb property with the local authority.
On a society level, the huge expansion in Airbnb properties has led to a shortage of longer term housing available to let to local people and driven up rental prices in a phenomenon now known as the “Airbnb effect”. Where Airbnb properties are offered in addition to local housing stock (eg. a shepherd’s hut in the garden) then Airbnb can offer a useful service, but increasingly landlords are choosing Airbnb over longer term tenancies, leaving very few options for local people in the rental sector and this is a particular issue in the Coastal areas we work in.
We work with local accommodation providers wherever possible, often these are in rural locations and the money spent in these communities is vital for their survival. In turn many of these small accommodations use local food suppliers. Our walkers bring much valued income to local cafes and restaurants and we encourage visitors to buy locally made gifts and products. So, for example, for a two week walking holiday in Cornwall the majority of money paid to us will remain within Cornwall as will spending on food and drink when walkers are here, supporting the local economy and local employment.
When buying walking equipment we ask walkers to consider which suppliers they are using and to support local business where possible.
In 2024 we are launching our One Litter Campaign. We are asking every walker to pick up just one price of rubbish along the route every day of their holiday and dispose of it responsibly. Before disposing of it we are asking walkers to take a photograph of themselves with the litter and send it in to us and we’ll put the images into a ‘responsible tourist’ gallery on our website and promote it on Social Media to highlight the problem and this solution that every walker can take part in. This is a simple and powerful way for us all to give something back to the local community with very little effort.
We will also be using the Litterati app for logging litter found on walking routes and beach cleans
Supporting Partner Organisations Working for a Better Planet
We will be asking walkers to consider including a Walkers Payback donation with their holiday deposit to one of our partner organisations who are working to improve the local environment and the lives of those who live in it. – This will be £5 per person and Encounter Walking will match all donations made.
Staff here will select and work with a chosen partner organisation that fits our aims and concerns. The current project is the Cornwall Based Wave Project – see www.waveproject.co.uk who work to improve the mental health and well being of young people through surf therapy on beaches around the UK including Cornwall
We are active members of Green Tourism endorsed by Visit England
Green Tourism - https://green-tourism.com/pages/home