As travelers ourselves, we know that traveling responsibly is important, and we work hard to give back to the places and people that have inspired our company from the very start. Their success is our success. This philosophy is built into our everyday operating standards, built into our partnerships and follows us in our independent sustainable projects. This means that each component of your trip has been researched and chosen to support our commitment to giving back and providing you with a great adventure. Adventure Life enforces "Leave No Trace" principles in our choice of accommodations and our waste management, minimizing impact at any sites or communities visited. Our local guides are thoroughly trained on the principles of "Leave No Trace" responsible travel.
There are different ways to travel responsibly. Some choose to participate directly by volunteering your time. This is why we carefully created community service project trips in the highlands of Ecuador and Peru. In some places, it is money that is needed for conservation and travelers choose direct donations. This is the case in the Galapagos Islands where Adventure Life and our travelers have together donated tens of thousands of dollars over the years to help with everything from beach cleanups to policing against shark fining. Our company is a long-standing member of the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association with staff serving on the board of this conservation-focused organization that directly funds vital protection and education projects in the Galapagos.
Education is definitely something we value and emphasize. As a partner of Ecology Project International (EPI), we are investing in youth, education, and conservation - empowering the next generation of conservation leaders to take an active role in their communities. Each year thousands of students, both local to the program site and visiting from around the world, join EPI on multi-day field courses. The courses combine hands-on field science and conservation, inquiry-based learning, and authentic cultural exchange that inspire and empower youth to take an active role in conservation. Also, educating our customers on how to travel responsibly is another effective way of maintaining our commitment as a company. Through our partnership with Travelers Against Plastic (TAP), we provide travelers with information on how to reduce plastic waste and even purify their own water during trips.
As a company, we also dedicate money to supporting local grass-roots projects – small, independent programs without a voice or a source of funding outside their often rural locals. Over the years, we've provided ongoing support of a woman's shelter in Cusco, rebuilt irrigation for a village we've longed worked in, and stocked science labs, bought eye glasses, and a dozen other little projects. These things aren't about saving the world, but they are about giving back to the people and places that play host to us and our travelers.
One of our longest running partnerships is with Rainforest Alliance. Here we work together to provide our local partners the tools and training they need to become more environmentally and socially sound. This commitment to empowering locals has been with us since our very beginning as a company. By traveling with Adventure Life, you partner with Rainforest Alliance and ourselves to promote conservation of the precious environments and the rich cultures around the world that make travel so special. Adventure Life is the first U.S.-based operator to join Rainforest Alliance's TOPS (Tour Operators Promoting Sustainability). Our role as a TOPS partner is to educate and encourage our local partners to complete the rigorous Rainforest Alliance verification process and then to incentivize their commitment by promoting trips that utilize their services and lodging.
Conservation at home is as important to us as conservation in the field. Our office promotes sustainable commuting to work - winning our city-wide commuter challenge three years running. In Missoula, only a few items are recycled by the local sanitation company. Therefore, we pay for a private recycling service that collects all of our office paper, plastic, cardboard, and cans. Also, we use paper made from 100% post-consumer material and our catalogs use soy-ink, an expensive but earth-friendly alternative.
Responsible travel takes many forms, and as travelers, Adventure Life is committed to traveling well. We invite you to explore your world with vigor and compassion, respect and wonder, and to fully understand how good it feels to be responsible in your travels and adventures.