Supporting Sea Turtle Conservation and Announcing our TTC “Multi-Year Plastics Elimination Strategy”
Greetings from Los Angeles.
Last Saturday marked World Sea Turtle Day, a day I take note of every year for the meaningful place it holds in The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) sustainability journey and the pertinent role turtle conservation has played in helping us come to the place in our responsibility mission we find ourselves at today.
In my home state of California, the endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles migrate 6,000 miles each year across the Pacific Ocean from their main nesting areas of Indonesia to foraging off my state’s coast. Unfortunately, these turtles’ population is on a continuous decline which further highlights the importance of conservation work. Also, when I was in Mexico with my family at the end of last year near Jalisco, we had the amazing opportunity to watch some baby sea turtles from the area hatch and be released in the ocean. So, sea turtles are near and dear to my heart and an important creature in our continued biodiversity.
2018 has been an exciting year for our not-for-profit foundation, TreadRight which is celebrating its 10thyear with a notable portfolio of 50-plus sustainability projects worldwide supported to its name to date. In the foundation’s fledgling days, one of the projects we supported was delivered in partnership with the Sea Turtle Conservancy. The organization is committed to ensuring the survival of sea turtles within the Caribbean, Atlantic, and Pacific through research education, training, advocacy, and protection of the natural habitats upon which sea turtles depend, and is the world’s oldest sea turtle research and conservation group.
Through our millennial travel brand Contiki and TreadRight, we helped to provide support to the organization’s conservations efforts as well as their awareness campaigns about the threats facing sea turtles today. Part and parcel to this support, we sent 12 storytellers to Costa Rica, accompanied by our TreadRight Ambassador and documentary filmmaker, Céline Cousteau, to the Sea Turtle Conservancy site in Tortuguero to document their experiences through photography, video, and the written word.
The stories they told were of extraordinary, resilient animals. Sea turtles are some of the oldest creatures on our planet, and the very fact that these incredible animals have survived for millions of years and across mass extinctions is a testament to their perseverance as a species. The fact that they are now facing critical threats to their survival today is an indictment of the current situation humans have created for every species on the planet, not just sea turtles.
Which is why, during the recent World Environmental Day, TTC took a considerable step in unveiling our “Multi-Year Plastics Elimination Strategy,” committing our group to phasing out all avoidable single-use plastics from our selection of award-winning travel and tourism companies. It means we will be eliminating the use of single-use plastics throughout our offices, from all our cruise ships, at all our hotels, and throughout all our travel experiences across our 29 family of brands.
It’s a big commitment, but our teams around the world are ready and eager to take this next step in our group’s continuing sustainability journey. We have received fantastic positive feedback across the industry since we announced our plan, which is the most heartening of all.
It is estimated that 8 million tonnes of plastic pour into our oceans annually. The bigger pieces of plastic injure, impair, and kill wildlife, while the disintegration of plastic debris and the manufacturing of microbeads are poisoning marine ecosystems.
We recently held our annual TTC executive conference in Santa Monica with our entire senior management team from across the globe and we discussed our heightened commitment to fully support our CSR and TreadRight initiatives. Our team’s commitment to measure and monitor their environmental impact began with the development and adoption of our Corporate Social Responsibility strategy in 2013. Since that time, our TTC teams across the globe have logged more than 20,000 volunteer hours including beach clean-ups of plastic waste.
We have also invested and introduced an e-document system to replace paper and other plastic packages for our guests, while committing this year to plant a tree for each guest that opts for e-documents with our partner, One Tree Planted. In addition, we are working on the continuous improvement of our offices’ environmental commitment using smart technology including smart cooling for data centres and geothermal energy systems, and other efforts.
While I am very proud that TTC is an early adopter of a single-use plastics elimination strategy, what’s more important is that we are not alone in embracing this necessary path forward. We hope and envisage a world in which our amazing travel industry partners, as well as our competitors, and our TTC team members, will also embrace a future in which the wasteful practice of single-use plastics is a thing of the past.
We can only achieve that by coming together as engaged citizens of the world to share best practices, learn from one another’s efforts and initiatives, provide encouragement, push back against the impediments, and lift one another over the hurdles on the way to shaping a more sustainable future for generations to come together. We all must do much more to reduce, reuse and recycle all we can to make our planet a better, more habitable place for future generations.
Wishing you the very best,