Green Dream Tours Owner Elie Sasson was dedicated to sustainable tourism long before he launched his company in 2008. Find out more about what drives Elie’s commitment to green tourism and Green Dream Tours’ best practices.
1. What prompted your interest in sustainable tourism practices?
I have always had a keen interest in the environment. It started when I was 7 years old in summer camp in New Hampshire. We would go hiking in the White Mountains once a week and learn about the nature there.
In college I majored in Environmental Studies. When I decided to start a tour company it seemed natural to make it as green as possible. I started the business with a diesel mini-bus, which I was running on 100 percent bio-diesel. Unfortunately, I had mechanical issues, and ultimately bought a new mini-bus that ran on regular fuel. To offset the emissions, I decided to buy carbon offsets each year to offset the carbon footprint of the fuel use. Since the beginning, we have been a carbon neutral company!
2. Name one the most valuable insights you gained while majoring in Environmental Studies at University of Vermont.
The most valuable insight I gained as an Environmental Studies major is that everything on the planet is interconnected. What we do here in the United States can have an impact halfway around the world in India, for example. The developed world uses roughly 80 percent of the world’s energy, but only accounts for 20 percent of the world’s population. And the United States uses about 25 percent of the worlds energy! This behavior has an impact on the entire planet.
3. Which best practices does Green Dream Tours implement?
We are a carbon neutral company. We also use recycled paper in our office and for our business cards. We are also striving to become paper-free all together. We recycle all paper, bottles and cans that guests discard.
4. Why have you chosen to purchase carbon offsets?
I want our company to be as green as possible. We burn a lot of fuel every year, and the money generated from buying carbon offsets goes toward projects such as reforestation, which works to eliminate carbon from the environment. It also fights climate change.
5. Which organization does Green Dream Tours use for the purchase of offsets?
ClimateCare. You can find them at climatecare.org
6. What can Green Dream Tours do to be more eco-friendly?
We could use water bottles made from corn and other natural elements, as opposed to plastic.
7. What are the company goals regarding sustainable tourism?
We are always striving to improve upon our green practices whenever possible. And we also encourage other individuals and companies to follow suit.
We often visit sustainable wineries on our tours. There’s lots of emphasis on sustainability in Wine Country, which matches our mission. In Sonoma, for example, Nicholson Ranch is committed to sustainable farming practices. Starmont Winery and Vineyard is a certified Napa Green Winery, generating electricity from solar panels.
8. Which simple practices can tourists implement to make their visits to San Francisco and Wine Country more eco-friendly?
Recycle everything you possibly can. Carpool whenever possible, or use public transit. Join tours, instead of driving your own vehicle.
9. What are a few steps tourism suppliers can put into place immediately to lessen their footprints?
For starters they can buy carbon offsets, just like we do. They can also make sure their vehicles are not idling for too long while waiting for passengers to load or unload. If loading is time consuming, vehicles should be turned off.