Bears + Bulbs = A Bright Idea

We’ve already got plenty of reasons to like Natural Habitat Adventures, a tour outfitter whose work to offset all of their carbon emissions has made them, according to their claim, the “world’s first carbon neutral travel company.” But we were struck by the amount of effort they put into their mission, even during the off season.

During October and November, the group runs polar bear expeditions to Churchill, Manitoba, a.k.a. the “Polar Bear Capital of the World.” It got its moniker because each year, the bears gather on the ice while the tundra freezes, waiting until they can cross over Hudson Bay. Thousands of travelers visit Manitoba every year, so NHA started looking to extend their green habits to the hotels and other facilities they use in the area. They first decided to donate CFL lightbulbs to the properties to help them cut down on their energy costs. But the idea snowballed, so to speak, and after creating a partnership with Gaiam, a company that produces the bulbs, NHA created a “Bulbs for Bears” program for the entire city. They’re now working with the mayor to distribute over 3,000 lightbulbs to homes and businesses throughout Churchill. They’re also planning to provide the city with a bulb crusher, to ensure that when the bulbs do run out (they last an average of eight to fifteen times longer than regular bulbs) they won’t pollute landfills with harmful chemicals.

“We’ve always been very involved in different initiatives that concern climate change,” said Matt Kareus, spokesperson for NHA. “Since a third of our travelers visit Churchill, we wanted there to be a way to educate [them] and do something that was directly related.”

Kareus also informed us that Churchill is one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights each spring. So we can’t help but think it’s appropriate that they get recognition not only for their natural lighting, but their interior lighting as well.

Read More: Natural Habitat Adventures has cropped up on our Tours of a Lifetime list. Learn about other ways to conserve energy while traveling here.

Photo: © Steve Morello