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Sustainability is an important part of what we do. Here are the ways that we try to live it with our business.
When we had the opportunity to take over Alaska Coastal Explorer, we knew that sustainability needed to be at the forefront of how we did business. The word sustainable gets thrown around a lot these days, but it literally just means doing things in a way that enables you to keep doing them. Seems like a sound business strategy, and also a way to ensure we’re accountable for the impact we inevitably have on the world.
It can be a real bummer to tune into the ecological issues we face. But no matter how rugged and remote Alaska may be, we’re incredibly vulnerable to a changing climate. 2019 was our first season owning Hope, and that summer had the highest sustained temperatures the state had ever seen. Nasa reported a new low of Arctic sea ice, and we experienced raging wildfires that burned 2.5 million acres. These fires were so awful in part because of drought, and were also attributed to the rough shape of our forests thanks to the bark beetle, more symptoms of a warming planet.
So when scientists warn us about ocean acidification, species die off, and melting glaciers, this isn’t abstract to us -- they’re talking about our backyard! We want to see our fisheries thriving, our waterways pure, our forests healthy, and our weather patterns stable. So with this awareness comes responsibility, the responsibility to be thoughtful stewards of the wild nature that we love, and to preserve the precious resources we depend on.
One of the ways we’re doing this is by incorporating carbon offsets into our fares. A carbon credit is a financial unit of measurement that represents the removal of one tonne (1,000 kg or 2,205 lbs.) of carbon from the atmosphere. We purchase carbon credits through Cool Effect and Offset Alliance to offset the fuel we burn on our trips by charging a minimal fee for each fare when passengers book. The projects we support protect an old growth spruce forest on the North Coast of Afognak Island, and another 8,618 acres of a coastal conifer, western hemlock-Sitka spruce, and western red cedar-hemlock rainforest being managed by native communities along the Southeast Alaskan panhandle. Not only do these forests provide a much needed carbon sink, but they secure wildlife habitat, plant biodiversity, and put land management back in the hands of indigenous Alaskans.
We’re also proud to be members of 1% For the Planet. Started by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, 1% FTP pairs “dollars with doers”. They focus on 6 major issues; climate, food, land, pollution, water, and wildlife; and operate on the principal that businesses consuming resources have a duty to help conserve them. Makes sense to us! Members can give their money and/or volunteer their time, and since its inception in 2002, 1% FTP has certified more than $250 million in support to approved environmental nonprofits. We’ve given a portion of our proceeds to local groups here in Seward like the Resurrection Bay Conservation Alliance and the Seward Sealife Center.
In addition to these efforts, we recognize the choices we make every day have an impact, and so we choose to cater our trips with local and organic food, use ecologically friendly cleaning products, recycle, minimize our waste, and do our best to leave no trace as we head out into the wild.
But perhaps most importantly is the opportunity we have to authentically share our experiences. We always think back to that saying about how you only protect what you love. With each guest who gets to witness the majesty of the fjords, catch their own food and be a part of that process, see whales up close and personal or tidewater glaciers towering over the sea, we’re hopeful that we’re helping inspire a shared love, and a desire to protect these incredible places.
These may be small steps we’re taking, but we’re doing our best to move in the right direction. We are so thankful for everyone who supports us and allows us the opportunity to do what we do! If you have suggestions on ways we could be more mindful or impactful, don’t hesitate to reach out to and let us know!
With much gratitude,
The Alaska Coastal Explorer team