Travelling without a trace
Environmental care is a subject very dear to us at Volvo Cars. We make vehicles designed to withstand the challenges of the Nordic landscape. They are built to be strong, resilient and safe – to brave the winter’s cold, drive through snow, and provide safe passage over icy and wet surfaces. But although these cars are made for an environment that can be unforgiving, our current focus is on respecting and protecting such beautiful and rewarding places.
Over the last few decades, sustainability has become a way of life. We buy sustainable cars, sustainable clothing, sustainable food – and we can choose sustainable holidays. If travel lets us broaden our horizons, then sustainable travel is how we protect those horizons for the next generation.
NO MORE JUMPSUITS
For many people back to the 1980s, a luxurious holiday included polyester jumpsuits, big sunglasses, cruise ships and chilled Martinis. Today, however, our impressions are more along the lines of biodynamic wine and locally produced cheese in a secluded, beautiful resort.
Our understanding of what makes a premium experience is getting closer to care and sustainability. And people are supporting this with their wallets: a recent Nielsen survey revealed that 66 per cent of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products.
“Consumers are far more focused on sustainability, particularly young people,” says Stuart Templar, Director of Sustainability at Volvo Cars. “The inherent sustainability of products, as well as a company’s approach towards sustainability, are increasingly driving purchasing decisions. Here at Volvo Cars, we feel we’re well placed to meet these changing demands.
“We’re focused on reducing emissions, increasing the amount of sustainable material within our vehicles, and are committed to electrification. We strive to minimise our environmental impact across the company, which is why we’re aiming to have climate neutral manufacturing operations by 2025.
“For us, sustainability is not only the right thing to do, but makes sound commercial sense, too.”
SETTING UP CAMP
Good intentions are all very well, but it’s the result that matters – particularly if you’re thinking about your well-deserved vacation. But if thinking about holidays and sustainability conjures up images of fire pits and freezing tents, you’re about as far away from today’s options as it’s possible to be.
Take the Whitepod eco-hotel in Monthey, Switzerland. Built from scratch to a space-age pod design, it wears its eco-tourism credentials on its sleeve. The food, heating, design and transport are all designed to have as little impact on the snowy wilderness as possible. Pellet heaters provide the warmth in the futuristic pod cabins, while even your mandatory walk to the hotel, through a silent, snowy forest, gives you the chance to soak up some of the local beauty.
Booking a room at the Whitepod also gives you access to the private slopes owned by the resort. Well-established destinations are now also changing direction to meet the new environmental standards. One of these standards – the Flocon Vert (Green Snowflake) – judges resorts on a strict set of eco-credentials and ethical factors. It was set up by winter sports group Mountain Riders to let like-minded adventurers know whether their favourite spot was a good place to visit in every respect.
A few of these locations are priced outside of a normal holiday budget, though the good news is that some of the more democratic travel resources have also put sustainability at the core of their business. For example, Tripadvisor has rolled out its GreenLeaders programme across Europe, covering the whole range of properties from B&B to luxury hotels. Search for “green hotels” and choose a location to see what’s available in the region.
Finding accommodation that embraces sustainability is one thing, the travel factor is another.
Volvo Cars is committed to making transport cleaner and safer. For example, we’re working towards getting a million electrified cars on the road by 2025, and have a vision that by 2020 no-one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo.
And if people keep voting with their feet for better sustainable transport options, then green travel will rapidly become the norm. Until then, keep considering the cleanest options for your winter holiday, and you’ll be sure not to leave any dirty footprints of your own in the snow.