Over the last few years at Hello Nature, we have been pursuing sustainability initiatives in all facets of our business. We know that businesses like ours, and tourism to Ucluelet in general, rely on the natural beauty of this incredible place we call home. We are passionate about proactively caring for the lands and waters, giving back to our community and preserving the environment for future generations.
Here’s how we are turning that passion into action:
Ocean and Shoreline Clean-Ups
Ocean plastic pollution has become a growing global problem. After the Japan tsunami in 2011, our community began to experience more marine debris than ever. Since then, awareness and community initiatives have grown but so has the plastic pollution problem. Aside from natural disasters, some sources of this pollution are; lost or abandoned fishing gear, micro and macro plastics brought by currents from the Pacific gyre, waste disposal at sea from cruise ships, fishing and shipping vessels, cargo ship container spills and litter from outdoor recreators.
The Pacific Rim is a small but passionate community and we are one of many organizations working on regular clean-ups. Annually, we partner with The Den and the Ucluelet Aquarium to clean up three locations along the Ucluelet Harbour. We are going into our third year together and we are already seeing a positive impact. We also partner with; Cameron Ocean Adventures to do a spring clean-up, the Rotary Club for two clean-ups a year and the BC Marine Trail through the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC guide’s exchange. We choose locations based on priority of need and access.
Through collaboration with Surfrider Pacific Rim and the BC Marine Trail Network, we have agreed to regularly maintain and clean the following campsites and locations; Beg Island, Francis Island, George Fraser and the Broken Group Islands.
We have also integrated clean-ups into our kayaking day trips, 1 hour from each tour is dedicated to cleaning, sorting and packaging marine debris for removal.
Citizen Science Participation
While on tour, our guides use iNaturalist to monitor and report wildlife sightings. Why are sightings important to report? The data collected helps prove habitat use, seasonal behaviours and more, which is all helpful when establishing or maintaining protected areas and measures.
Ethical Ecotourism Practices
More than ever, people are inspired to have the kind of incredible wildlife encounters they see online. Canada has some of the strongest wildlife viewing regulations worldwide, especially when it comes to marine mammals. Our guides educate our guests on those guidelines and how to ensure an encounter is safe and has the least impact possible on the wildlife.
To keep their habitat pristine and prevent any habituation of campsites as food sources we follow “leave no trace” practices on our overnight trips.
Our Zero-Waste Efforts
One thing that helps us follow “leave no trace” camping practices is having very little waste to begin with! The Den, a local zero waste and refillery store, curated a camp essentials package for us with refillable products. The package includes products like toothpaste, soap, bug spray and sunscreen that would normally contain problematic ingredients. The products in our kits are all made with environmentally responsible and ocean-safe ingredients.
We invested in a LOMI electric composter to deal with any leftover food scraps from our trips. Now, instead of going to the landfill where it would release methane, any leftover food is turned into compost that our team can use in their gardens.
To cut down on our paper usage we switched from printed to downloadable, digital brochures. For places we need to supply a printed brochure to (like the Visitor Centres), we have reduced the size to a single-page rack card.
Other zero-waste efforts included our recycling program and single-use plastic reduction with help from Surfrider Pacific Rim. Under our sustainable purchasing policy, we also shop for food and gear locally. When we need to order from manufacturers we contact them before delivery to try and reduce plastic packaging.
The more collaborative a community is, the more sustainable it can be. Community programs and initiatives are important to the long-term stewardship of nature, creating a sustainable tourism economy and the health of our community members.
Here are some of the programs and initiatives we are proud to be a part of:
- Youth programs
- Courses through the Ucluelet Community Centre
- Member of the Tourism Ucluelet Executive Board
- Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC Executive Board Member
- Speaker for the Youth Career Exploration Workshop hosted by West Coast Nest
- Promote donations to local environmental non-profits on our website
- Donate gift certificates or money to environmental non-profit programs
Putting Our Profits to Work in 2023
Starting this year, for every Ucluelet Harbour Kayak Tour, one tree is planted with the Blue Green Planet Project and for every Multi-Day Kayaking Trip 1% is donated to Ocean Wise’s We Need Kelp program.
Staying Accountable to Our Commitments
This year we will be taking the WildSafeBC Business Pledge, this pledge means we have committed to; keeping all wildlife attractants secure at all times, training staff to follow WildSafeBC best practices, providing guests with accurate information and advice, and reporting any conflicts with wildlife to the Conservation Officer Service.
To measure our impact and ensure we’re taking advantage of all opportunities to create positive change, we will now have a third party company evaluate our sustainability plan every two years. Stay tuned to hear about more exciting initiatives in the works!
Read More About Our Sustainability Initiatives
West Coast Traveller Article (March 2023): You’ve heard of ‘leave no trace.’ What about tourism that improves treasured places?
Blog Photo Credits: Andi Wardrop and Nikkey Dawn