Carbon reduction - travelling overseas to volunteer

Pod Volunteer's Policy and Advice

Worried about your carbon footprint? We are too and this is what we are doing about it...

Exploring the world and volunteering overseas is a fantastic way to help charities and NGOs, support local economies and gain a deeper understanding of different cultures and environments.

It is often a life changing experience for those involved and the projects we support would struggle to exist without our volunteers, but due to the nature of the locations we work with, flying is usually unavoidable – a means of travel which is a major contributor to carbon emissions.

At Pod Volunteer we openly recognise the challenge we are facing and are trying to do everything we can to tackle climate change – we care deeply for our planet!

WHAT WE ARE DOING AT POD VOLUNTEER

1. We offset the carbon emissions created from our staff international flights and UK office energy usage through the leading environmental organisation Gold Standard supporting projects such as Wind Power in India.

Gold Standard was established in 2003 by WWF and other international NGOs to ensure projects that reduce carbon emissions feature the highest levels of environmental integrity.

2. For every volunteer that joins a Pod Volunteer project, we contribute to a Pod Environmental Fund which supports environmental initiatives in countries we work in:

  • Reforestation in Belize - funding a tree nursery where native tree species are grown and used to reforest logged areas along the Rio Grande River
  • Solar lighting in Ghana - supplying solar lights to replace dangerous and toxic kerosene lamps used by children in rural communities for their homework. “Each solar light that eradicates one kerosene lamp will, over the course of three years, avert an entire tonne of CO2” - Solar Aid™. It also helps increase child literacy

3. We do everything we can internally to reduce our carbon footprint when travelling:

  • Walk and cycle to work scheme for our UK office staff
  • For longer journeys in the UK, public transport used wherever possible
  • We combine overseas project visits by country and region resulting in fewer trips
  • We encourage staff to combine personal holiday with work trips reducing additional flights

4. We support the introduction of a UK tax on frequent fliers.

5. We provide the following advice and tips for our volunteers to help reduce carbon before, during and after trips:

CHOOSING A PROJECT

  • Fly less often (and go for longer!) whenever possible
  • Combine volunteering and holiday, reducing the number of trips you do – our projects are all in amazing locations with incredible places to explore before or after your placement
  • Think about how far you fly – we offer projects around the world so you can choose one in a part of the world that is nearer to you

FLIGHTS

  • International - fly direct if possible as indirect flights use more fuel
  • Domestic travel – if travelling within a country, consider overland travel such as trains or buses (where safe and feasible) - we provide details on these routes in our guides
  • Offset what you can’t avoid

BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

  • Pack light – the lighter you travel the less fuel is needed to get your bag to your destination!
  • Don’t take plastic with you (e.g. take shampoo, conditioner and deodorant bars) – or if you do, bring it home with you to recycle
  • Pack reusable: cutlery, ‘tupperware’ container, shopping bag, straw, coffee cup, water bottle
  • Switch off appliances at home before you go

ON THE JOURNEY

  • Carry a water bottle in your hand luggage as many airports now have water dispensers
  • Use public transport to get to your home airport
  • Use shared transfers on arrival to get to the project – we arrange these wherever possible

WHILE AWAY

Accommodation

  • Choose local accommodation
  • Choose fan rather than air conditioning
  • Switch off fans, lights and appliances and unplug devices when not in your room
  • Use water carefully – take short showers

Food and drink

  • Eat local foods
  • Eat less meat
  • Avoid food waste where possible
  • Use your reusable cutlery, container, shopping bag, straw, coffee cup, water bottle!

Shopping and activities

  • Buy sustainably produced goods
  • Use local tour companies and do low carbon activities e.g. kayaking

Travel

  • Explore on foot or on bicycle
  • Use public transport

BACK HOME

  • Share holiday clothes, bags, equipment and books with others
  • Bring batteries home to be recycled
  • Make a note of anything you haven’t used to avoid buying / taking too much on your next trip
  • Spread the word - tell everyone how they can have a positive impact on their travels!  

AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal