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Travelers to some of the world’s most remarkable destinations for once-in-a-lifetime vacations with REI Adventures will be guaranteed to have a â€œgreenâ€ experience â€“ whether traveling to the Alps or Antarctica, and all points in between. Through the company’s new 100 percent carbon-neutral (also known as â€œclimate-neutralâ€) offering announced today, outdoor enthusiasts will now be able to â€œgreenâ€ their travel â€“ including the air travel to and from their destinations â€“ at no added cost to the just-announced 2007 REI Adventures trips.
Outdoor retailer Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) and its adventure travel company, REI Adventures, have entered into a partnership with Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) to compensate for the greenhouse gas impact of all REI Adventures trips and REI Outdoor School outings. BEF is a leading non-profit environmental foundation that markets green power products and funds new renewable energy projects.
Starting in 2007, REI Adventures will purchase BEF Green Tags, or renewable energy credits, to offset the greenhouse gas impacts of air, water and ground travel associated with all excursions. BEF Green Tags are created when renewable energy such as solar and wind power are substituted to local utilities for energy generated by burning fossil fuels which are linked to global warming. Each BEF Green Tag offsets the carbon produced by 1,030 miles of air travel, and is equivalent to 1,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy.
REI Adventures expects to purchase more than 52,000 BEF Green Tags in the coming year, offsetting more than 36,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are the largest source of climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions. This amount equates to the annual CO2 emissions of approximately 6,200 average gas-powered cars, or powering nearly 5,000 typical U.S. homes for a year with 100 percent renewable energy. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of top renewable energy purchasers, today’s announcement would place REI among the 20 largest purchasers nationally.
â€œREI Adventures is a long-time proponent of responsible travel and our partnership with Bonneville Environmental Foundation supports REI’s commitment to environmental stewardship to reduce our overall impact on the planet,â€ said John Sheppard, REI Adventures general manager. â€œWe are pleased to partner with BEF to bring carbon- neutral travel to our customers. The organization is one of the country’s most innovative social enterprises because it combines the business and mission of supporting renewable energy.â€
â€œIn the growing field of sustainable travel, REI Adventures stands out for its level of commitment. Some travel providers are offering green travel at a more modest level, or as an optional purchase, but REI Adventures is the first to automatically offset the global warming impacts of its entire catalog of trips â€“ including air travel to and from the trip destination,â€ said Tom Starrs, vice president of marketing and sales for BEF. â€œIn addition, REI Adventures’ pioneering initiative will increase awareness of the environmental impacts of travel and tourism, encouraging others â€“ individuals and businesses alike â€“ to follow its lead. This program really is a different, deeper shade of green.â€
Beyond travel, BEF is offering REI customers the opportunity to purchase BEF Green Tags to offset the environmental impacts of the energy they use in their homes and for commuting. In return, customers will receive a $20 REI Gift Card from BEF for a Green Tag purchase of $120 or more, and a $40 REI Gift Card for a purchase of $200 or more. To buy Green Tags through the REI Adventures/BEF offering, visit www.greenadventures.org or link from www.reiadventures.com. The activities of an average U.S. household can result in more than 35,000 pounds of CO2 and other pollutants each year.
As part of the REI Adventures partnership, beginning next year BEF will donate 10 percent of its revenue from REI Adventures and all REI customer purchases to annually fund a renewable energy project â€“ including the development of a local infrastructure for ongoing maintenance and support â€“ in a country where REI Adventures leads trips. REI and BEF will collaborate on each project which is expected to bring much-needed electricity to classrooms, health clinics, and other public facilities in developing countries.
All BEF Green Tags are 100 percent Green-e certified by the Center for Resource Solutions. This independent, non-profit, third-party organization administers the Green-e Renewable Electricity Certification Program, ensuring that the products it certifies meet specific product and quality standards.
â€œCarbon dioxide emissions are the leading cause of global warming. REI Adventures has recognized that its customers want to balance their passion for traveling to exciting, exotic locations with their desire to reduce their contribution to global warming pollution. With its new carbon-neutral travel program, REI Adventures is making it easy to travel without worrying about the climate-related impacts,â€ said Dan Lieberman, the Green-e program manager for the Center for Resource Solutions. â€œThis is a significant step for any company, even one with REI’s tradition of environmental stewardship. REI has found a new way to give back to its customers and the global community, one that will provide ongoing benefits for the environment.â€
REI Adventures has offered active travel vacations featuring climbing, cycling, hiking, rafting, skiing/snowboarding and multi-sport excursions, including adventure travel cruises, to all corners of the globe since 1987. REI Adventures caters to active travelers of all abilities with more than 100 small-group trips worldwide, including weekend getaways. All REI Adventures trips include the finest in outdoor gear and expert local guides who go off the beaten path to provide travelers with unique experiences down wilderness trails and cultural back-roads. The 2007 REI Adventures catalog is available beginning today at www.reiadventures.com or by calling 1-800-622-2236.
REI Outdoor School is operated in five cities where REI has retail locations. The program offers classes and one-day outings with professional guides who teach the basics of hiking, cycling, kayaking, geocaching and more. The program, which was piloted last year in several of REI’s Northern California stores, will see continued expansion in 2007.
As part of REI’s overarching stewardship efforts, the retailer has been active in protecting the environment, giving back to communities, and encouraging responsible outdoor recreation for decades. This year, REI earmarked $3 million for outdoor recreation and conservation grants, with an additional $1 million for the preservation and maintenance of community parks; and converted 20 of its 85 stores to 100 percent green power through renewable energy contracts with local utilities (20 percent of REI’s national electricity use); and received LEED-CI SilverÂ® certification for its Pittsburgh store by the U.S. Green Building Council.
For additional information about REI Adventures’ carbon-neutral travel program, visit www.reiadventures.com or www.greenadventures.org. Comprehensive information about REI’s stewardship efforts is available on www.rei.com in the â€œAbout REIâ€ section.
REI is an outdoor retail co-op dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its 2.8 million active members for a lifetime of outdoor adventure. Founded in 1938 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers seeking quality equipment, REI operates retail stores nationwide, two online stores â€“ REI.com and REI-OUTLET.com â€“ and an adventure travel company, REI Adventures. REI offers products from all of the top brands for human-powered outdoor recreation, including its own line of award-winning gear and apparel. While anyone may join or shop at REI, members pay a one-time $15 fee and
receive a share in the company’s profits through an annual member refund based on their purchases. As an active supporter of communities in which it does business, REI is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through education, gear donations and financial contributions.
About Bonneville Environmental Foundation
The Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was established in 1998 to restore watershed ecosystems and further the development and use of new renewable energy resources. Through revenues generated from the sales of green power products such a Green Tags, BEF funds projects that restore damaged watersheds and support new renewable energy products from solar, wind and biomass. BEF pioneered the sale of Green Tags in 2000 and has helped establish national standards for certification and trading. www.b-e-f.org or www.GreenTagsUSA.org.
Editor’s Note: The following organizations are available for third-party comment regarding the issue of carbon-neutral travel and/or REI’s announcement:
Adventure Travel Trade Association: Shannon Stowell, President, 360/805-3131
Center for Resource Solutions: Sarah Krasley, 415/561-2119
Climate Neutral Business Network: Sue Hall, Director, 541/490-2860
Natural Resources Defense Council: Ralph Cavanagh, Co-Director, 415/875-6100
Outdoor Industry Association: Frank Hugelmeyer, President, 303/327-3501
Sustainable Travel International: Brian Mullis, President, 720/273-2975