May General Newsletter
The Youth Are Revolting – Let’s Join Them
Where previous generations worried about nuclear war or were motivated by ideals of love and peace, today’s young people have the environment on their minds. Their agenda is clear: sort it out right now or the planet’s a goner. A sentiment we wholeheartedly support here at STC Expeditions.
We aim to do our bit – and then some – when it comes to environmental responsibility. Read on to find out more about a couple of the initiatives we – and the students we travel with – feel passionate about. In a future newsletter we’ll also be looking at how we offset our flight carbon emissions.
Cleaning Things Up
We have two choices: stand back, suck our teeth and think how terrible it is that the planet’s heading straight to hell in a hand basket. Or get off our backsides and do something about it. It’d be easy to think sorting out that planet is a big task (it is), that we can’t do it on our own (we can’t) and that it’s all someone else’s responsibility (it isn’t). The approach we’re taking at STC Expeditions is a proactive one: if all of us do a bit – even a little bit – we’re on a better path.
Travelling the world, we’ve been horrified time and again to discover that places we imagine to be pristine are far from it. There are lots of reasons for waste pollution: it washes in from the ocean, follows in the wake of hordes of tourists or is poorly managed by authorities. Whatever the cause, the natural environment, local communities and wildlife all suffer.
Last year we started an initiative we call Environment Clean Up. It means that in all destinations where waste is a major problem, our expedition teams will spend time collecting and clearing litter from a blighted area so it can be properly disposed of.
Our hope is that people, wildlife and the landscape will feel an immediate benefit. And we also aim to educate the travellers of the future about how their choices and actions can make an impact.
Of course litter doesn’t just blight exotic destinations or faraway shores. So in March this year we headed to Dawlish Warren, a beautiful spot at the mouth of the River Exe, not far from STC Expeditions HQ. A few dozen people - made up of STC staff and members of the Exeter School Borneo Expedition team - and a little bit of time resulted in the collection of eight sacks of varied (and unpleasant) waste including plastics, polystyrene, wire and fishing nets.
We’re also encouraging our student travellers to incorporate clean ups into the fundraising programmes for their trips. Sponsored litter pick, anyone? It’s a small start, but it’s definitely a start.
Hot Spots for Clean Ups
While some places immediately suggest themselves as needing more help than others, we’re in no doubt that every group in any destination could find somewhere struggling with waste pollution. Ask us to put a clean up in your itinerary – it’s a low cost / high value project to add to every expedition.
Known for lush tropical rainforest and fascinating wildlife, Borneo has a heaven-on-earth reputation. Some of it’s pristine, but with a long shoreline and a location perilously close to major shipping routes, not all of the coast falls into the category of desert-island idyll.
With Pacific and Caribbean coasts, a tropical climate, active volcanoes and an interior dripping with rainforests it’s no surprise that Costa Rica is one of the planet’s biodiversity hot spots. Pollution from both oceans threatens the vitality of its coral reefs and sea life, however.
Magical sub-Saharan African holds the allure of dusty plains, lush river valleys and snow-capped peaks. It’s all about the wildlife, until you look closer and see that years of tourism to the mountains has left more than a footprint.
Culturally and geographically diverse, Morocco is a short hop from the UK but feels a world away. Essaouira’s coastal location might make it magical and unforgettable, but it also leaves it vulnerable to seaborne waste washing in from the North Atlantic.
A Thirst for Water
When travelling or on holiday, people often consume more water than they would at home. This causes a tangle of problems that may not be immediately obvious, especially when you come from a relatively water-rich country where the resource is literally on tap.
Litter – in the shape of discarded single-use water bottles – is the most immediately apparent side effect of travellers’ thirst. From the fringes of the Inca Trail and the shore of Ko Phi Phi Leh, thoughtlessly discarded water bottles are stacking up.
Water scarcity is an increasing issue across much of the world and tourists (along with popular amenities like swimming pools and golf courses) further pile on the pressure. Finding water, then harnessing and purifying it puts huge demands on local infrastructure.
Ever-conscious of our global footprint, a few years ago, we joined forces with Travellers Against Plastic to raise awareness about sustainable travel and how we can all be more thoughtful when it comes to water use.
There are a few good ways you can make a start in taking responsibility for your personal water use:
· Treat your own water – you can choose purification tablets, UV light or mechanical filters to clean drinking water.
· Choose a reusable bottle – you don’t need a fresh bottle every time, plus carrying a vacuum flask has the extra bonus of keeping your water cool. Or opt for a design with a built-in filter that eliminates contaminants. We’ve partnered with Water-to-Go to offer STC Expeditions travellers a 15% discount on filter bottles.
· Take shorter showers – estimates vary wildly, but let’s say an average shower lasts eight minutes and uses 62 litres of water. Bear in mind it’s recommended by the NHS that we drink 1.2 litres of water a day. That’s a lot of water circling the drain that could go to better use. So just don’t stay in there so long.
STC Expeditions Ethical Travel Newsflash
Check out the current edition of The Independent Schools Magazine to read Adrian’s article titled ‘Overseas Expeditions - Should We Be Going There?’
… then head over to the 10th Festival of Education on 20-21 June this year to hear him speak on the ethics of school trips.
Roll On, Half Term
Lots of holidays – that’s one of the incentives often cited in favour of becoming a teacher. So make the most of that time off, we say.
If you’re looking for an out-of-the-ordinary way to spend this year’s October half term, why not join us on an adventure to Vietnam? It’s part of our STC Escapes programme and is an adventure holiday just for teachers – students are most certainly not invited.
You’ll visit vibrant Hanoi and try the amazing local food, hike and bike through the stunning rural landscapes and stay with local people in a traditional stilt guesthouse. It’s an action-packed 13 days that lets you spot wildlife, go sailing and visit Halong Bay. Oh and there’s time for relaxation, too, in the shape of yoga on the beach.
To hear all the details – including how to bag your £100 discount – contact Emma Anderson.