Spirit of the West Adventures
How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...
We try to use local and organic products as much as possible on our trips. This helps
ensure a healthy environment and supports the local economy.
Our coffee is locally roasted, fair-trade organic, shade grown by a womans co-operative
coffee from Aroma Specialty Coffee Roasters on Quadra Island. They often deliver to us
by bicycle and package it in bulk for us to avoid excess packaging.
We buy fruits and vegetables from local organic farms when in season.
Our bread is from a local bakery.
We buy many ingredients for our meals in bulk from a Quadra Island shop called The
Yellow Dog Trading Company, which specializes in organic products. This helps us to
minimize packaging waste.
All salmon that we serve on our trips is locally caught wild Pacific salmon- caught by a
local fishing family.
We compost all organic waste and use the soil for the Spirit of the West organic gardens.
We care for our community and support it through our business. Through purchasing locally and
hiring local staff where possible we support those around us. Our business is based year-round
on Quadra Island, BC. Some examples of community support and local involvement are:
We purchase locally as much as possible, when we are not able to purchase what we
need right on Quadra Island, we then look for local suppliers and goods and services
made as close to home as possible.
We work with local accommodation providers and service providers ensuring that the
money generated by the stay of our guests benefits the local community.
Our passenger vans are often loaned to various community groups in need of
transporting large groups of people, e.g. The Quadra Island Sustainability Festival, The
Quadra Childrens Center, The Quadra Community Center, etc.
We donate to local fundraising efforts as well as local events such as cooking and
donating food stuffs for the Community Lunch, The Food Bank sponsoring the Banff
Mountain Film Festival and various other community events.
At our employees' request, we schedule a shift working in on our grounds, so everyone
has an opportunity to contribute to the bounty and get outside (even the office dwellers)
Staff/ Spirit of the West Team
We encourage healthy staff by choosing organic food for all of our trips when possible.
We provide a credit for returning employees to receive a health treatment of their choice,
i.e., massage, naturalist appointment etc.- up to $250 per year.
We are an equal opportunity employer and do not discriminate based on sex, race, class,
sexual orientation etc.
We pay fair and competitive wages, which ensure a quality standard of living for all of our
Our staff are encouraged to ride their bikes or walk to work. We provide our staff with
safe bicycle storage facilities and bike maintenance tools.
Our staff participate in local environmental and community events such as beach cleanups,
roadside garbage collection and social functions.
Staff are encouraged to take home left-over unspoiled food from trips to ensure we have
very little waste and to keep their living costs in check.
At Spirit of the West Adventures, we understand that many of our guests come on our kayaking
tours in Canada and around the world to participate in a style of trip that has minimum impacts on
the environment. While we follow established minimum impact practices during our tours, our ideals
dont stop at the back door. We firmly believe that a business can operate successfully and still
have a minimal or positive impact on the environment and community in which we all live.
We aim to raise the bar in terms of environmental commitment and sustainability in the eco-tourism
industry. We are not looking for a pat on the back for our efforts, but we hope to set new standards
that encourage other tourism/business providers to also clean up their organizations and become
co-leaders in sustainable and environmentally sound practices. Our practices are summarized
Green Tourism Cold Certification
In 2015 we proudly received Gold Certification from Green Tourism Canada, the worlds largest
and most credible sustainable tourism certification program. The exhaustive audit assessed all the
policies and practices we have in place (and describe on this page) in order to determine our
standing at their highest level. Green Tourism offers third-party verified assessments, advice and
guidance to over 2,300 tourism businesses in Canada, the UK and Ireland. To learn more,
1. Minimizing Environmental Impacts
There are many ways that we try to make our impact on the environment as minimal as possible,
both in our administration and in our operations. Some of our major initiatives include working
towards minimizing fuel consumption as well as joining the non-profit organization One Percent
for the Planet.
By joining the One Percent for the Planet www.onepercentfortheplanet.org initiative, we have
committed to donating one percent of all of our sales and revenues to not-for-profit environmental
organizations. One Percent for the Planet certifies that we are contributing one percent of our
sales by examining our tax statements and donation receipts. We choose the environmental
organizations that we wish to contribute to, but these organizations are pre-approved by One
Percent for the Planet after extensive investigation into their practices.
Throughout the actual operation of Spirit of the West we have also implemented numerous
policies and practices to minimize the impacts of our activities. An overview of these practices follows:
Practices at our office
We use only 100% recycled, unbleached paper for our printing needs. We also ensure
that we use both sides of the paper before recycling unneeded sheets.
We have lots of natural lighting in our office space to lessen our dependency on artificial
lighting. When we do use the lights, our light bulbs are compact fluorescent or LED bulbs
which are much more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs.
We ensure that all of our computers and printers are turned off or in sleep mode each
evening and when not in use.
We do not have air conditioning and instead choose to let the breeze in through our
The Spirit of the West Building
We operate our business from a small property in a quiet neighbourhood on the island. We have
made our property and home reflect our business practices and ethics.
The lawn is a collection of wild flowers and pre-existing grasses. We cut the lawn using
an electric lawnmower and the further reaches with a gas mower when necessary.
Trees on the property help to provide shade in the summer and a natural buffer to the
We use only organic gardening techniques.
We collect rain water for watering our garden and cleaning kayaks etc.
The interior of the house is painted with low volatile organic compound (VOC) paint which
helps to keep the air we breathe clean.
We use a front-loading washing machine for our laundry needs. This machine uses 13
gallons of water per load, versus a top loading machine which uses approximately 45
gallons per load. Our machine also spins more water out of the clothes making the drying
time shorter (we however only use the clothesline and wind to dry our laundry).
We have a displacement device in the back of the toilet tank so that not as much water is
required per flush. We also employ a if its yellow let it mellow policy during the summer
dry spells when appropriate.
We have a low-flow shower head and taps to minimize water usage.
We are working to seal all the windows and trim in the house with caulking to minimize
drafts and energy/heat loss.
We have installed many doors throughout the space in order to make heating only the
spaces we need possible.
We heat with a combination of electric heat as well as wood stove.
We get our firewood from locally managed, sustainable woodlots on Quadra Island and
use our discarded paper for starting fires.
Practices in the Field
While kayaking we practice minimum impact camping in order to preserve the nature of the coast.
Human waste is dealt with in the most appropriate manner for each trip location, primarily
packed out for disposal.
Soap use in freshwater lakes and streams is strongly discouraged, and at our campsites
we keep our footprint as small as possible by keeping to established tent sites and
Our food is stored out of the reach of any curious animals so as to not alter their natural
We abide by all whale watching guidelines and try not to ever disturb wildlife from their
We use only biodegradable and phosphate free dish soaps.
We offer our guests the free use of re-chargeable batteries while on trip.
Every guest of Spirit of the West receives a re-usable mug to use while on trip, but to also
encourage using a travel mug once back home versus disposable cups when enjoying
their daily coffee or tea.
We recycle everything that we can. BC is lucky to have a great returnable drink container
program in which we participate.
We pick-up our guests at their accommodation, carpooling to our various trip
We schedule our tours in a back to back fashion which means that we minimize fuel
consumption and therefore emissions of both our vans and water taxis.
2. Economic Indicators
Many of our environmental initiatives have economic benefits. Some of the initiatives result in
direct savings in our pockets, some provide long-term savings and others help to separate us
from the competition as an environmentally aware business and bring us increased revenues. For
Energy savings from using compact fluorescent/LED light bulbs, a front loading washing
machine, low volume toilet, power bars to turn off all energy draining devices (e.g. clocks
on microwaves etc.), plastic over the windows in the winter to retain heat, harnessing rain
water, using an electric lawnmower (saves gas and emissions).
Using both sides of paper before recycling saves on paper use.
By sending out electronic booking packages by e-mail we save significantly on both
postage and paper costs
Buying in bulk is very cost effective and minimizes packaging.
By composting our organic waste from trips, we have a free high-nutrient and organic
fertilizer for our gardens.
The trees on our property help to shade the house in the summer, keeping our home and
office cool without air conditioning and allowing the light into the house in the winter.
Staff save on food costs by eating unspoiled food left-over from trips.
We often exchange goods and services with local businesses for our tours. This bartering
allows us to access goods we may otherwise not be able to obtain.
We purchase high quality outdoor gear that will last well into the future and is made by
reputable companies to ensure safe and fair working conditions for the workers who
Our business depends on the natural environment, thus a commitment to sustainability must be
inherent in the way we conduct ourselves. This commitment to environmental responsibility is a
cornerstone of our corporate culture and we make efforts to integrate it into everything we do. Not
the least of these is the focus on education we put on our tours. Currently we undertake the
following to ensure continued positive environmental change within our organization:
We provide our staff with week-long paid instruction from professional naturalists,
biologists and historians, in order to learn about the importance and significance of the
areas in which we operate and help our staff communicate this to our guests.
We have a very clear staff manual as well as intensive training which helps our staff to
fine-tune their minimal impact wilderness travel skills.
We feel strongly about being environmental leaders in the industry and communicate our
environmental initiatives as well as values on our website (see Our Green Ethics at
We try to encourage continual learning by providing the Spirit of the West Library from
which staff and guests are welcome to borrow books about the local area and
We are on several boards which help to advance wilderness protection and sustainable
practices including the Wilderness Tourism Association of BC, the North Island Marine
Mammal Stewardship Association, the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC.
We participate in several government led processes which deal with natural resource use
or land/water use processes- including the Marine Planning Partnership, The Discovery
Islands Joint Forestry and Tourism Working Group and liasing with local logging
companies to attempt to protect certain areas.
In the past we worked with a Canadian company called Planetair www.planetair.org to analyze
our carbon footprint and emissions. From February, 2008- 2013 we became a carbon neutral
company. In 2013 we decided to donate funds to more local environmental organizations instead
of continuing with carbon credits. We still however strive to minimize our carbon footprint
Commitment to Conservation
We respect and abide by all the guidelines for operation, set forth by Parks Canada, BC
parks and the Marine Protected Areas.
We were founding members and are currently on the executive of the North Island
Marine Mammal Stewardship Association (NIMMSA) which was established to ensure
responsible self-regulation of tourism operators involved in wildlife viewing. This
organization also helps to ensure the protection of the many mammals which we are so
fortunate to have on the British Columbia coast.
We support the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve Warden and Research program which
aims to educate boaters about the Marine Reserve and the Orca whales which frequent
this area. We supply the program with donations and support whenever possible.
We volunteered with the Limits of Acceptable Change process for the Johnstone Strait
area. This working group brought together commercial operators, government agencies,
First Nations groups as well as public users of the area. We worked together to identify
and set up strategies to deal with issues that threaten the ecological integrity as well as
the tourism experience in this area.
We also volunteered with the Quadra Island Community Tourism Foundation, which has
been working to determine the future direction the community wishes tourism to take on
our island. We have been successful in working towards making Quadra Island a flagship
destination for environmental education as well as environmentally sustainable tourism
We participate in local beach and roadside clean-up efforts.
We will also be working with local non-profit environmental organizations to help them
complete applications to become approved to receive donations through the One Percent
for the Planet organization.
A focus on all of our trips is environmental education. Our guides share information about
the area with guests, including issues that threaten the ecological integrity of the area.
They help guests learn about the incredible inhabitants as well as how their daily lives
impact and are connected to areas such as those we visit.