Rick Steves (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Rick Steves (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Rick Steves to give $1 million yearly to stop climate change

“If we are in the travel business, we are contributing to the destruction of our environment,” he said.

EDMONDS — Rick Steves sees climate change in nearly every country he visits.

Drought keeps Ethiopian farmers from growing crops, skiers can no longer enjoy the Swiss Alps in summer, and people flock from southern to northern Europe to escape the heat.

Steves says the travel industry contributes to these problems, including his own business, Rick Steves’ Europe in Edmonds.

He’s decided to donate $1 million each year from his company’s profits in an effort to combat climate change. The program is called Climate Smart Commitment.

He plans to give $30 for each of his customers. Experts say it takes about that much to lessen the impact one traveller has on the environment.

About 30,000 people book the company’s services each year. That adds up to about $900,000, and is then rounded up.

The company’s prices are not expected to change.

According to Steves, one person’s round-trip flight from Seattle to Europe can create as much carbon emissions as six months of driving.

The company doesn’t book flights, but provides travel planning and hosts tours through Europe.

The donations are an important part of running an ethical operation, Steves said.

“It’s not an issue of can we afford it,” he said. “If we are in the travel business, we are contributing to the destruction of our environment.”

The money is now going to three different organizations, and possibly more in the future.

So far they include Project Concern International, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America World Hunger and Bread for the World.

Each helps those in poverty through climate change, such as farmers who can’t grow food during a drought, or those who go hungry because of the ruined crops.

Steves also has written dozens of travel guides, hosts TV and radio shows, and writes a weekly column that appears in local newspapers.

He hopes other travel businesses are encouraged to start similar practices.

Steves, who grew up in Edmonds, also has donated millions of dollars to local causes. Those include a 24-unit YWCA housing project in Lynnwood, the Edmonds Center for the Arts, an Edmonds community center and a community center planned at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood.

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; sdavey@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant. Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology.
EPA loans King County $96.8 million to prevent untreated water from spilling into Puget Sound

Loan comes a week after an over 10 million gallon overflow into the Puget Sound and Lake Washington.

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance
Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

Courtesy photo
Survey shows rent debt to be disproportionately distributed among minorities

More than half of Black renters surveyed said they owed rent money from previous months.

National Guard troops, pictured Jan. 11 at the state Capitol in Olympia, have been on standby in case of violent protests. (Photo by Roger Harnack, Cheney Free Press)
At the state Capitol, a quiet day amid heightened security

There were no protests or arrests as troopers patrolled and the National Guard assumed a lower profile.

West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle. Photo courtesy of King County
Power outages cause massive wastewater spill into Puget Sound, Lake Washington

King County estimates millions gallons of untreated wastewater overflowed into surrounding waters.

Democrats in the Washington State House are proposing to pay for transportation improvements partly by raising the gas tax by 18 cents. (Sound Publishing file photo)
House Democrats lay out massive $26B transportation package funded by gas tax hike

An 18-cent gas tax increase and a fee on carbon emissions would fund new roads and more.

File photo
Report: 70 percent of gun deaths in Washington are attributable to suicide

Research done at The Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program at Harborview… Continue reading

June 2018 algae bloom. Photo courtesy of Department of Ecology
Human-caused ‘dead zones’ threaten health of Puget Sound

Wastewater treatment plants account for about 70% of the excess nutrients.

Robert Allen, 61, had never been homeless in his life before 2019, when he lost his housing. The chef has been trying to get back on his feet, and hopes to open a nonprofit and make hot sauce. File photo
King County implements 0.01% sales tax to raise money for housing the homeless

Officials plan to buy hotels, motels and nursing homes for conversion into permanent housing.

Most Read