Sustainability Beyond the Hottest Summer on Record

As a lover of travel, I recall when I first began seeing data of the detrimental environmental impact my favorite pastime can deliver. It was both a wakeup call and a discovery of the many things responsible travelers and the industry itself can do to ensure positive environmental and social impact.

Travel is on my mind for a number of reasons, including the above noted “hottest summer on record”. July was the hottest month recorded on planet earth according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Here in Austin, Texas, July was also our hottest on record along with the longest streak of 105 degrees or above at 11 days from July 10 to July 20. As of this publishing, most of the Lone Star state is in the midst of burn bans due to the prolonged drought and extreme temperatures. Thus, it’s time to travel OUT of this heatwave!

Obviously, travel can be a fossil fuel bonanza on planes, trains, automobiles and power boats/ships. Bikes can only get you so far (but they can be great once you reach your final destination). Out of concern for a healthy, travel-worthy planet of the future, I became involved with a nonprofit/educational group (now called Impact Travel Social Club) and earned a Better Traveler certificate from Sustainable Travel International.

Fortunately, we’re seeing most of these transportation sectors make improvements on reducing their levels of carbon emissions. Electrification continues to grow and innovate in the auto and train industries. The airline industry is developing more fuel-efficient engines and aircraft designs.

Travel is just one example of an industry that not only recognizes but is acting to make sustainability the norm in daily operations. Other sectors of note include renewable energies, food and beverage, architecture, construction and beauty. Businesses and organizations of all sizes benefit by incorporating sustainable practices whether it’s recycling waste, minimizing paper use, supporting local farms or using smart thermostats.

Studies are plentiful that prove consumers demand and often expect product and service providers to incorporate sustainable practices from eco-friendly packaging and reducing waste to ethical manufacturing and use of renewable energies. When consumers are asked if they care about buying environmentally and ethically sustainable products, they overwhelmingly answer yes: in a 2020 McKinsey US consumer sentiment survey, more than 60 percent of respondents said they’d pay more for a product with sustainable packaging. A recent study by NielsenIQ found that 78 percent of US consumers say that a sustainable lifestyle is important to them.

As public relations professionals, we know that verifiable, sustainable business practices can result in positive media coverage and improve reputation. And at Breakaway, we proudly partner with organizations who embrace sustainability and work to make measurable improvements. A client in recent news, the Greater Austin YMCA implemented human-powered cardio equipment, resulting in zero-energy waste. Sustainability is one of the Y’s four core goals of their 2023-25 Strategic Plan which encompasses a Green Practices Plan. Another client, Flaneur Travel Co, specializes in responsible travel itineraries for those seeking unique experiences across the globe. Owner Kristy Hanft penned a recent blog on the topic and the great strides being made in Scandinavia. And our friends/clients in Georgetown, Texas, were among the first cities in the United States to shift to a majority of renewable energy providers.

Integrating sustainable practices into any business operation is an important step in protecting the environment for future generations. It is absolutely vital and the clock is ticking. At Breakaway PR, sustainability is high on our litmus test when prospecting for new clients and working with current ones.

The temps will eventually drop but resilient and responsible environmental action cannot.