Watch a whale, save a forest: How $1 per ticket is protecting old growth
Published Thursday, May 23, 2019 1:43PM PDT Last Updated Thursday, May 23, 2019 3:28PM PDT
A tourist takes a photo on a whale-watching tour off Campbell River, B.C., May 23, 2019. (CTV Vancouver Island)
The carbon tax: Governments are squabbling over it, courts are reviewing it and social media is doing what it does with the controversial topic. But beneath the surface of those storms is an environmental movement not concerned with lawsuits and legislation.
It’s not lost on the owners of Campbell River Whale Watching, which says its business is based in nature – but it also takes a toll on it.
“Our business does generate a lot of carbon. We’re out burning fuel, watching whales, taking people on experiences," said owner Stephen Gabrysh.
He and his partner Tyler Bruce set out a few years ago to reduce their footprint.
It started with switching to LED lights then adding low-flow toilets to vessels. Next, the company invested in higher efficiency engines, but that’s where the journey stalled. The boats still needed gas and tourists still wanted to find whales.
“We’d kind of gotten to as low a carbon footprint as we could and we looked for a way to offset it,” Gabrysh said.
He and Bruce came upon a German/Canadian non-profit, Wilderness International, trying to protect old-growth forest on the island, and an idea was born.
Now, $1 from every whale-watching customer's ticket is being donated to save one square metre of rainforest. Just like that, Campbell River Whale Watching says it's found a way to cover the rest of its carbon footprint.
“Our customer base is really into nature and looking for ways to give back to nature,” said Gabrysh.
Customers also have the option to purchase more rainforest real estate. The investment comes with a postcard visitors can use to go online and register the plot of land in their name.
“It’s really neat and ties the guest into the experience,” Gabrysh said.
Campbell River Whale watching is aiming to protect 15,000 square metres of old growth this first year.
That translates to double the company's carbon footprint. Gabrysh said it's the type of eco-friendly decision the company hopes other businesses will take notice of.