Guide to Understanding The Carbon Footprint Of Your Retreat Offerings

June 10, 2022
Jen Corley
6 min read

Acting on climate change is a responsibility that falls on all of our shoulders.

As a retreat leader or wellness travel provider, understanding your carbon footprint for the trips you host can give you the tools you need to take action. By making a conscious effort to calculate your group’s carbon emissions and discover your offsetting options, you can help promote a more sustainable tourism industry at large.

In this guide, we’ll outline some of the biggest carbon-emitting actions related to travel and what you can do about them. As a bonus, we have included a link to a helpful carbon emissions tracker you can use for your trips.

Carbon Emission

The Importance of Calculating Carbon in Travel

Travel is a contributor to the global climate emergency, with transport causing the majority of the footprint. Overall, figures from Sustainable Travel International show that tourism is accountable for around 8% of the world’s carbon emissions.

The good news is that countless travel businesses are committing to rebuilding a responsible industry coming out of the pandemic. Many are pledging to become carbon neutral or are getting involved in climate change or sustainability initiatives to be part of the solution.

Whatever your goals, the first step to reducing your travel carbon footprint is to track it. Measure the impact of each retreat or group wellness trip you host and seek ways to offset emissions.

This isn’t only for your peace of mind as a wellness travel business. Findings show that now more than ever, travelers are more focused on responsible, conscious travel. According to Booking.com, the pause in travel has inspired 83% of travelers to make sustainable travel a priority in the future.

As much as possible, be transparent with your clients about your efforts to balance out the generated emissions. This will help you attract clients who share your values and recognize that tackling climate change is a collective effort.

Looking ahead, it’s critical for each and every one of us in tourism to make a conscious effort to lessen our carbon footprint. Carbon emissions projections indicate that tourism emissions could reach 66.5 billion metric tons by 2025, which is a 44% increase from 2013. As you can see, it’s not sustainable for the industry to continue along this current path.

carbon footprint

Biggest Carbon-Emitting Actions Related to Travel (+tips to address them)

Here are some of the most prominent carbon-emitting actions that happen when you host a retreat or wellness trip.

1. Air Travel 

The global aviation industry is responsible for a startling 2.1% of all human-induced CO2 emissions.  While the industry aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, this doesn’t answer the immediacy of the problem.

An obvious way to address this when planning your wellness trips is to focus on local tours, retreats, and travel experiences. But, it’s not a plausible solution for everyone, and the need for flights is only likely to increase as we go.

There are several initiatives you can get involved with to cover your footprint. For example, flight offsetting initiatives like Carbonfund.org, Conservation International, and The Nature Conservancy.

You could also look into more sustainable travel solutions, like boats and trains.

2. Other Transport 

Beyond airplanes, all other forms of transport produce carbon emissions. Most notable are cars and buses, boats, and trains. While it’s impossible to avoid transport completely during a trip, you can opt for more sustainable transport solutions.

carbon footprint

For example, electric trains produce a far smaller carbon footprint compared to buses. And if you really want to eliminate carbon emissions from travel, consider transport modes like bicycles or sailboats where it makes sense to do so.

By understanding the carbon emissions of transport during a journey, you can plan transport routes more strategically and cut out unnecessary ways that cause more harm than they’re worth.

3. Food and Drinks

Cuisine is a big part of the retreat experience. But, food waste is a major environmental concern in travel. In fact, food waste is responsible for 8% of global carbon emissions. Not only this, but food that has not been sourced ethically can have a devastating environmental impact.

To reduce the footprint of your travel experiences, choose to support more sustainable restaurants and food service options. Look for local, ethical restaurants where your retreat-goers or guests can dine. You want establishments to source their ingredients from ethical suppliers and use mostly local ingredients.

This will not only uplift local communities, but it will also help create less of an environmental impact.

4. Accommodation

Accommodation and lodging can contribute to your group’s carbon footprint in a big way. By supporting more sustainable accommodation solutions and retreat centers, you can offer far more sustainable wellness experiences.

For example, you could choose accommodation powered by more environmentally-friendly solutions. Many accommodation options use sustainable energy, grow their own vegetables, and build using processes with minimal environmental impact.

Looking towards a more sustainable accommodation option can vastly reduce the impact of your trip in comparison to traditional hotels.

carbon footprint

5. Shopping

Shopping forms a big part of many tourism experiences. However, shopping can also have a detrimental environmental effect. This generally comes down to the carbon emissions used in importing items from different countries or selling items that are made unsustainably.

For example, a shop selling tourist products in Italy might import these from China, using materials sourced from South America. The carbon impact on getting these goods to the shop in Italy would be enormous.

If you include shopping in your wellness travel experience, focus this on local producers. Not only will this have a greater impact on the local economy and artisans, but it will also help avoid supporting shops that rely solely on imports.

Stick to shops that supply locally made goods using locally sourced materials.

How To Calculate Your Carbon Emissions

At WeTravel, we have developed a useful tool to help wellness travel businesses and retreat leaders understand the vast environmental impact of their trips.

Introducing the WeTravel Carbon Emissions Tracker 

You can use this tool to calculate the carbon emissions that each traveler generates on your trip. This can be narrowed down to a detailed estimate, taking into consideration all types of transport used during a journey.

On top of this, the tracker includes an offsetting template. This lets you calculate the amount of carbon emissions generated, and it suggests different options that you can use to offset these emissions.

carbon footprint

The tracker includes a range of actions that your company and your clients can implement to help reduce your overall environmental impact.

As a wellness travel business or retreat leader, this is an easy and effective way to optimize your offerings, improve sustainability, and provide more information to your clients.

How Does The Carbon Emissions Tracker Work 

The carbon emissions calculator is a straightforward tool. As a retreat leader or wellness travel company, you can choose the different modes of transport for your trip (car, bus, train), select the approximate distance traveled in miles and set the number of travelers.

The tracker calculates the total tons of CO2 emissions generated from this. It also lets you estimate the approximate tons of CO2 emitted from flights. You add the flight details (arrival and departure destinations) and the number of people flying. From there, the emissions will be calculated accordingly.

You can use the different offsetting options to show your wellness travel clients how you plan to reduce the carbon impact of their retreat or journey.

carbon footprint

Summary

WeTravel’s carbon calculator is a simple way to help retreat leaders & wellness travel businesses operate more sustainably.

Use the tool to understand your carbon emissions, keep clients informed about the impact of their travels, and find ways to offset your emissions. It’s a free resource and can change the game when organizing your next trip or retreat.