Bodhi’s newest intern is Spencer Dunlap, a former Environmental Studies major from Travis and Gibran’s alma mater, the University of San Diego. Spencer arrived in early December and is helping us in our quest to go Carbon Neutral. He has single-handedly taken on conducting a carbon inventory and overall audit of our footprint here at Bodhi. He has also been “getting his hands dirty” with a number of crafty projects around the lodge! We’re so excited to be undertaking this process and to have someone who has studied this very topic putting his knowledge and skills to use in such a valuable way. Read about his experience finding and becoming an intern for Bodhi!
Ocean Guardian connections
I first heard about Bodhi Surf + Yoga School from my baseball coach at the University of San Diego, Rich Hill. Taking into account that I was both a surfer and Environmental Studies major, he figured I’d be interested in Bodhi as a place to put my interests to work after college. He connected me with Bodhi co-founder Travis — a fellow USD alumnus who had also played baseball for Coach Hill. Shortly after reaching out to Travis, he told me about Bodhi’s 2016 Ocean Guardian Contest, a contest that promotes “taking action in your everyday life to protect the earth and shape our world for the better”.
At the time, I was already working on a project for a Sustainability Capstone course I was taking. I decided to enter the contest by highlighting the innovative ways in which I was creating a positive environmental impact in my local community. Although I didn’t win, I was proud to tell the story of how I was raising awareness of environmental issues at USD, and promoting actual concrete changes at the community level. If you are interested in learning more about my 2016 Ocean Guardian Contest submission, you can read more about it here.
Finding the path back
After graduating in the spring of 2016, I moved to Kauai where I spent three months living off the grid on a small Taro farm (Taro is a root vegetable used to make Poi, a staple of traditional Hawaiian cuisine) on the windward side of the island. It was there that I cultivated a deeper appreciation for my natural surroundings, and realized that living a low-impact lifestyle was an attainable goal. As my time in Kauai came to an end, my priorities shifted toward pursuing a career. I lost sight of my inclination for living a simpler lifestyle. It’s funny how effortlessly priorities change when chasing the almighty dollar, and as human beings we tend to forget that “we are nature, too”.
It wasn’t until a recent month-long road trip through the Western United States that I was reminded of my affinity for nature. I decided to reach out to Travis in an attempt to rekindle my relationship with Bodhi Surf + Yoga. This time I was in luck: Bodhi had recently committed to going Carbon Neutral, and I could help them pursue this goal.
Conducting the Carbon Neutral inventory
And so here I am, Bodhi’s most recent intern, working on the company’s mission to achieve Carbon Neutrality. You might be wondering what this certification process entails. How does a company like Bodhi Surf + Yoga become Carbon Neutral? Well, other than collecting, organizing, and crunching data, the process is really quite simple. First, we have to calculate our Gross CO2 Emissions, taking into account both emissions directly produced by Bodhi (electricity, waste, freight), and emissions indirectly produced by our guests (flights, transportation, accommodations).
In order to reduce our Carbon Footprint as a business, we can mitigate our CO2 emissions by composting, recycling, planting trees, offsetting guests’ flights, and retrofitting appliances for energy efficiency — all actions that Bodhi is already taking! Once we subtract our Reduced Emissions from our Gross Emissions, we are left with our Net CO2 Emissions, which is what we must offset in order to achieve Carbon Neutrality.
My job is to calculate Bodhi’s Net CO2 Emissions within a given fiscal year and submit the data to a Carbon Neutral certifying body. In our case, it is a company called NativeEnergy — a fellow B Corp out of Burlington, Vermont. Ultimately, we will be able to offset our Net CO2 Emissions by investing in renewable energy, and in doing so, we will continue to raise the bar for environmentally responsible tourism.