Words by Mathias Winterberg.
Even though Midgard’s Sustainability Week had to end one day, our sustainability efforts go on: and that’s just one – but the most crucial one – of many take-aways. The week has just flown by before finishing with a big bang: with the Icelandic rubbish collection day. A day, which is far more than just a day!
Plokkdagurinn is celebrated all across the country for the sixth time. And of course, if there is something to celebrate, Midgard can not miss – how could we? Even more, since it is all for a good and sustainable cause: for leaving our beautiful Icelandic nature in a better place than it was before! But “Plokkdagurinn” is not just a one-day thing, it has become a national movement.
In every corner of Iceland, we clean up our beautiful country after winter. Yes! Sustainability starts with all of us. And it does neither halt from anybody, nor halt on a particular day.
“Plokkdagurinn is not only a big thing in our capital city or in the busy south of Iceland: even here in the east fjords we organize to go out and clean up in the community. And afterwards, we celebrate with a big hotdog party.”
Erna Rut Runarsdottir, “plokking” in Seyðisfjörður with her children
It is the organization “Plokk á Iceland” that organizes the day, which is intended as the beginning of the Plokk season and as an awareness raising and encouragement to all of us to consider our environment and consumption. On the day itself, we grabbed a bag and went for a round of “plokking”. And we added the sporty version to our program: “plogging”!
Plogging is the combination of picking up litter and jogging. The idea originated in Sweden and is simple to both understand and take part in. While there are plogging groups emerging all over the world now, we made sure that Iceland goes with the trend.
So you decide: Are you in the team “Plokking” or in the team “Plogging”?
Three Questions to …
Hildur Guðbjörg Kristjánsdóttir, Midgard co-owner, Head of Sustainability and adventure guide.
Why do you emphasize sustainability as one of Midgard’s core values?
Midgard would not work without the environment or the community we live in. Nature is the base for all our tours and we have to operate our activities in cooperation with nature and do our very best to protect it. We are all nature lovers and we see ourselves as role models that need to inform on our tours how to behave in nature, such as through the principle of leaving the places we visit with no traces – or in a better state than before.
What do you mean by “Sustainability Starts With all of Us”?
It sounds so simple, but it makes the difference. Let me give you an example: if some trash is flying off with the wind, we make some effort to collect it. For us, sustainability has also to do with respect. Respect for ourselves, the people that surround us, the guests that visit us and respect towards the environment and nature that we are so lucky to live in. We all have a responsibility to take. And if all of us start thinking and acting this way, we can make a difference. Every person can make a difference.
But Midgard is still a business-driven company in the sector of tourism and not a Non-Profit-Organization. Isn’t that contradicting sometimes?
Yes we are a company but we are foremost a part of nature and part of the community we live in. We want to give back both to nature and the community. We pay our taxes to the local community, support it by providing all year round jobs, host events for the locals, support the local rescue team, and buy our supplies locally. To continue doing what we love doing, we need to be smart and think sustainably in every aspect: socially, environmentally and economically. We take this seriously and question each big decision we take if it is sustainable in that matter.
Recognition of our Commitment…
Midgard is extremely proud to have received an environmental award from The Icelandic Soil Conservation – as the first tourism-company in Iceland! It is a recognition of Midgard’s clear environmental goals in relation to the use of land in tourism and emphasis on environmental education for staff and guests.
…. Motivation for the Future
We will continue on this journey and we are very excited for what is to come. A lot is in the works and we are confident that sustainability is the future. Why we believe so? Because you – our guests – give us encouraging feedback:
Talk To Us
In our environmental talks, we love to share our experiences, our challenges and our best efforts in trying to be a sustainable tourism-company with our guests. These rounds turn out to be fruitful and enlightening exchanges for all of us.
“We loved the insights we got about Midgard’s sustainability policy and the general environmental issues in Icelandic tourism. It is important for us that we go with our students to destinations, where sustainability is lived. This is why we chose Midgard Base Camp as our camp for our study trip.
Birthe Daber, teacher at «Eyrekka Folkehegskole»
How We Can Do Better
However, just having sustainability on the menu isn’t enough. Midgard is well aware that there is always and in any aspect room for improvement. That’s why we want to encourage those interested to take a look at our sustainability policy that you find here.
And of course, if you have any questions or suggestions, we would love to hear from you. This is not just a phrase. Let us give you an example – let’s talk about food waste.
Midgard Restaurant strives to minimize food waste. We measure all food waste after breakfast and dinner. And we aim to reduce food waste by 20% in 2023. We know that this is a highly ambitious goal. In the first months of this year, we achieved to reduce food waste at least by 5%. Is that a failure? We don’t think so.
We need ambitious goals and visions to do better – they make sure that the topic stays on the agenda, that we review our efforts over and over: “where can we do better?” or “how can we get closer to that goal?”.
Yes: sustainability starts with all of us. And it has just started. It is an ongoing process.
About the Author
Mathias came a long way from Switzerland and joined the Midgard family for a month, giving space to a project of his heart: while he is normally commenting on cross-country skiing and athletics for national television, he put all his efforts in the organization of the Midgard Sustainability Week.
“I’m looking back to a most meaningful project that has come to an end. But as pointed out in this last blog: the spirit, the motivation and the efforts to act sustainably live on with the one and only Midgard family. I just can’t wait to come back: to help in another beach-cleaning, to meet the glaciers again in hopefully their same width and beauty, and of course to see our Midgard Sustainability Forest growing up. And just to spend again such a wonderful time with the Midgard family!”