A Clean Expedition with Green Char – the Elysium Artists for the Arctic
On August 29th of 2015, Ocean Geographic and a team of 65 of the world’s most well known and respected photographers, videographers, explorers, artists, and scientists embarked upon the Elysium Artists for the Arctic expedition. This 3-week journey to the top of the world was to raise awareness about the fragility of this northern polar region by documenting stunning visual interpretations of the flora, fauna and landscapes of the Arctic and draw attention to the impacts of climate change. Throughout the planning process, we decided it was of utmost importance that our expedition was carried out in an environmentally responsible fashion, so we searched for a way to make the trip carbon neutral. We found the solution in a promising company called GreenChar.
GreenChar, a for-profit social enterprise in Kenya, was founded by Tom Osborn on the vision of access to clean energy for everyone. They produce and distribute charcoal briquettes made from agricultural waste. The briquettes are affordable, nearly smokeless, higher energy, and longer lasting than conventional wood charcoal and firewood. Beyond the direct benefits to their customers, recycling agricultural waste into charcoal briquettes also curbs local deforestation. GreenChar’s vision is to not only fight climate change in Kenya through offsetting carbon emissions and reducing deforestation through its charcoal briquettes, but to also uplift the local communities out of poverty through a unique distribution model that empowers women and young adults. The use of this green charcoal also has the potential to vastly improve the quality of life for millions of people in the region, women in particular, by providing them with a nearly smokeless energy option that will eliminate the health risks associated with burning other sources of energy.
We partnered with GreenChar for the Elysium Artists for the Arctic expedition by purchasing carbon credits that offset the 250 tonnes of carbon emissions produced by the expedition. This ensured that our expedition did not contribute to the already serious threat to the Arctic region posed by carbon emissions and climate change.
We will continue to work with GreenChar to attain carbon neutrality for our other ventures while helping them grow and expand. Ideally we would like for all Ocean Geographic expeditions to be carbon neutral, and through our partnership with GreenChar, we will likely be able to achieve this goal. We will also support them via ongoing fundraising activities to aid in the manufacturing of these green charcoal briquettes and their distribution to needy communities in Kenya free of charge.
Michael Aw, the founder of the Elysium Projects and Ocean Environment is passionate about increasing climate change awareness and educating people about its impact on the world’s oceans. “Everyone around the world, from the wealthiest to the poorest nations, has a responsibility to try and protect our oceans from climate change. GreenChar is a unique partner in that it not only reduces carbon emissions, but it also provides clean, safe energy to needy communities. We are proud to work with them on a combined mission to help provide people with access to green energy while protecting our oceans without which we, as human beings, would not be able to survive.”