Posted by Lina Cronin on 5 March 2020 | Comments

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How a South Australian adventure tour company is offsetting their carbon in the local community

From 2016 to 2019, Calypso Star Charters, in South Australia’s Port Lincoln, was a carbon neutral tourism business. But when their carbon auditing and offsetting provider stopped offering carbon offset services in mid-2019, the company knew it was time to think outside the box.

With a clear personal investment in the local community – Calypso Star Charters is a family-run business – the idea arose to start a local environment fund. This fund would provide an opportunity for the company to invest the same amount as was previously put towards carbon offsetting schemes, many of them overseas, into local community projects instead.

“We didn’t know what to do, initially,” explained part-owner/operator Andrew Wright. “But then we thought, why aren’t we spending the money locally?”

From September 2019, the Calypso Star Charters Local Environment Fund has been receiving funds equal to the cost of former offsets (emissions are audited regularly, and the funds adjusted annually) and distribution has begun to local groups and projects that can demonstrate tangible environmental benefits.

Coast Care Group school project 2

Photo credit: Calypso Star Charters

One such project has been working with the local Lake Wangary Primary School and the Lower Eyre Coast Care Association to assist in revegetating Greenly Beach, 60km west of Port Lincoln. What began as a tree propagation day involving year 5, 6 and 7 students in 2019 will continue as a tree planting day in 2020, in line with World Environment Day.

Andrew said it’s been great seeing the younger generation actively engaged in environmental management programs and being able to pass on the importance of caring for nature.

A second project already completed thanks to the new fund is the installation of LED lighting at Port Lincoln’s local gymnastics club.

“My kids go to the club and I kept thinking – do these guys know how much money they could be saving if they switched to LED?” Andrew said. With the support of the South Australian RESS (Retailer Energy Efficient Scheme) and a $3,114 donation from the Calypso Star Charters Local Environment Fund, the change was made possible and it’s now anticipated the club could reduce its energy running costs for lighting by about 60%.

“That will save them about $4,000 a year,” Andrew explained.

Port Lincoln gym lights 1

Photo credit: Calypso Star Charters

So, what else is on the agenda for the Local Environment Fund?

Andrew told us that the it’s the newest project on the agenda that he’s most excited about: a composting solution that involves a former concrete mixer, a friend with a gardening business and leftover bait that previously got sent to landfill.

What will happen to the compost?

“Not sure yet – we’ll most likely sell it for beer money!” Andrew laughs.

One thing’s for sure – new ideas keep emerging from Calypso Star Charters, and with so many benefits flowing back into the local community, that’s definitely something we can all toast to.


For more news and updates on the Calypso Star Charters Local Environment Fund, visit the website.

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