Gavin Tollman

During this year’s Earth Hour, Trafalgar CEO Gavin Tollman reflected on planet earth, the way it is being compromised and what we can do about it. Here is what he had to say.

As I embraced the symbolism of the darkness of Earth Hour on March 24, I considered this simple yet significant gesture that has resulted in a global movement. This led me to think about the many ways that our planet is being compromised every hour. My thoughts turned to Cape Town, one of the world’s leading locations for spectacular holidays.

Cape Town, South Africa.

Cape Town, South Africa.

All my life I have taken great pride in being able to call South Africa, and Cape Town, “home.” Every year my extended family gathers here from across the globe for our year-end reunion. Our last trip, however, brought a heightened sense of awareness of the fragility of the city’s natural beauty. “Day Zero”, the day publicised by authorities as when the taps run dry, had become a global, SOS.

Back in Europe, I have reflected on how some of the communication around this crisis was at times misdirected. It was South Africa’s worst drought in over 80 years. Sadly, the warning signs had been there, but were disregarded. Late to the game, government officials and business leaders hurriedly joined forces to try and mobilise secondary water supply sources, with desalination projects and water resource management infrastructure initiatives becoming a priority.

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But still, “Day Zero” needed to be addressed. As water restrictions were imposed on residents, new rules were in play on this previously freely-available natural resource: 50 litres per person per day, showers restricted to 90 seconds and grey water being used for everything from gardening to flushing. Not a good situation. Alas, also not a unique issue.

Being Earth Month, I acknowledge the sad realisation that this stems far beyond Cape Town. All of this, a direct result of climate change. A warning that we need to pay urgent attention to what we’re doing to our world and what we can do for it. More than 120 cities globally are facing crisis level water challenges.

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The only positive is that by default, Cape Town has taken the lead for global learnings in recovering and reinforcing future water preservation. Throughout my travels I have also seen California’s paralysing period of drought between 2012 and 2016, one that cost the state in one year alone over 2% of GDP and 21,000 jobs. But living in it, versus visiting is different and this crisis changed the way Californians use water forever.

This is our new reality, but we need to take a proactive approach to preserve our planet – as individuals. According to the United Nations, the global world population is set to explode from 7 billion today to 10 billion by 2050, climate and weather patterns changing previous natural water patterns and industrial pollution is making water an increasingly scarce commodity. With global changes and human factors altering the course of the earth’s long-term sustainability, it’s imperative that we find ways to counteract these effects. Immediately.

Busy city by Jason Ortego on Unsplash

Busy city by Jason Ortego on Unsplash

So many of the water-saving measures adopted by Cape Tonians and Californians during the crises have proven to be simply good life habits. We should feel thankful for the freedom of access we have. It is a privilege afforded to many, not all.
From being a high school student who wanted to make a difference, Brad Follett reminds us how his action turned Earth Month into a global movement, almost five decades on. He didn’t need a position of power. He was driven by passion and a proactive desire to make a change.

As Earth Day nears (April 22), we see the drive to tackle another critical issue impacting our world, the desperate need to end plastic pollution. As both JoinTrafalgar and TreadRight, we are humbled to work with sustainability ambassador Celine Cousteau, an exceptional individual impassioned to change the world, who has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the damage plastic is causing to our environment, particularly our oceans and the untold harm its causing marine life. We are also a proud partner of One Tree Planted, working with them to make it easy for everyone to support reforestation projects around the globe.

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The most beautiful human truths and privileges of travel is that it changes us, sometimes openly, sometimes subtly. Who we are, the things we can so often take for granted, come under the spotlight. It is these flickering lights of awareness, that when we take action, make us better people.

I hope for us all to be changed, for the better, in 2018 and beyond. It’s heartening to recognise the momentum of Earth Day, that more than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world. We all need to take steps to ensure we are creating actions for the planet’s gain. And it starts right now. With You.

READ: A salute to the women of the Trafalgar Tribe: Gavin Tollman, CEO Trafalgar

READ: 7 Travel trends to take advantage of in 2018: Gavin Tollman, CEO Trafalgar

What do you think of Gavin’s thoughts? Let us know below.