The Space Tester is all about showing you how to lead a healthier and more curious life and about becoming more conscious about the impact we have on the environment and local communities we interact with on a daily basis.
As a professional blogger with a platform that influences others on their purchase-, lifestyle- and travel decisions in one way or another, I would like to take this opportunity to talk a bit more about the (small) changes we can all make in our habits and daily behaviour to contribute to a better world.
The good news is that there are many ways to do this and most of them cost nothing extra, perhaps just require a little mind-shift.
THE SPACE TESTER CODE OF ETHICS & GREEN POLICY
When I say that I’m a professional blogger, I take that term very seriously. I often see media coverage of bloggers or ‘influencers’ trying to rip companies off with bought followers, an awful attitude or the incapability to deliver what was promised. And it’s painful to watch. This behaviour doesn’t just hurt their own name, it hurts the industry as a whole.
I started blogging around 2005 and back then there were only a few people making money from their blogs, let alone fully live off them. What started for me as a hobby, grew into a business over the years, and I’ve worked hard on building not just my technical and creative skills, but also my network and my reputation.
There is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes of a blog than you probably would think and I believe that if you would like to blog for a living, you need to see it as a business and set yourself standards to go along with that.
Together with a core group of business-minded travel bloggers, I’m doing my part to further professionalize this industry.
Curious to find out how? Keep reading!
BLOGGER CODE OF ETHICS
Since 2015, I’ve been an attendee and speaker at the Social Travel Summit (STS), a unique conference where top international travel influencers meet with industry representatives to exchange expertise, experience and ideas.
The event, organised by iambassador (a professional travel blogger network that I’m part of) in cooperation with Traveldudes (a social travel platform of which I’m also part of the team) and the German Reiseblogger Kollektiv, has the key objective to focus on the way the industry and bloggers already work together and find practical ways to improve it.
One important component of the Summit is their ‘Think Tank‘ session in which delegates will have the opportunity to brainstorm and discuss issues affecting the industry-blogger relationship.
You can find the Think Tank Reports from 2014-2019 on the STS website, but from each report from the past years, I’ve picked the topics and action steps that resonated with me the most and combined them into my own ‘Code of Ethics‘ that you can find below.
I strongly believe that every blogger should have their own set of ethics that they will use when working on brand collaborations and travelling the world (and beyond it!)
THE TRAVEL TESTER CODE OF ETHICS
AS A BUSINESS OWNER…
- I expect to be paid for my work, not my opinion.
- I ensure that my influence and services are adequately rewarded.
- I view press trips/blog trips/fam trips, group or solo trips, as an important and effective way to gather content and research destinations. They are not ‘perks’ but a necessary part of the job.
- I will not falsely represent my online influence/statistics, or inflate my statistics by buying false readers, followers, fans etc.
- I will not falsely claim an expertise or skill that I do not have.
- I expect to work with companies, tourism organisations, public relations & advertisers/marketers, and I expect my readers to both understand and accept the commercial nature of that relationship.
- I will always seek to agree clear objectives with commercial partners and make clear any limits of cooperation (eg. subjects I will not write about or promote).
- My first loyalty is to my readers for whom my credibility and individuality is crucial.
- I undertake to publish/deliver all content that I have agreed in a professional and timely manner.
- My standards apply not only to my own blog but also to my ‘brand’, across all social media platforms.
AS A CONTENT CREATOR…
- I only publish about experiences and discoveries on trips that I (or a guest writer) have actually made and/or thoroughly researched with the help of locals.
- I only write about my experiences subjectively and all opinions expressed are my own.
- I will protect the editorial integrity of my content.
- I always clearly label any advertising, advertorials, sponsorships, competitions, product tests or 3rd party reviews, published by me and declare any commercial relationships or associations.
- I respect the copyright and moral rights of others.
- I will use my platforms to educate, inform and encourage readers by building environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
- I will not let my editorial independence be compromised because a trip is hosted. However:
- I will seek to clarify in advance the expectations on both sides.
- If discrepancies, complications or negative experiences occur in the course of a trip, I undertake to consult first with the host to clarify and, if possible, resolve the situation. In exceptional circumstances, if the situation cannot be resolved, I reserve the right not to write about the venue/trip/experience and inform the host of the reasons why.
AS A TRAVELLER…
- I will offset my CO2 emissions once a year for all air, train and car travel I make, both as part of my job as a travel bloggers as for personal trips.
- I will choose transport alternative to flying when possible.
- When travelling, I bring my own prepared snacks, so I don’t have to use the single-use plastic (and let’s be fair – gross) airplane (or convenience store) meals on my journey.
- I will choose accommodation options that provide a more positive environmental impact, for example because they are located on walking distance to attractions I plan to visit or have green initiatives such as recycling- and water saving schemes.
- I make sure towels & linen are not washed daily in my accommodation.
- I report any possible leakages in my accommodation quickly, so they can be fixed by the property as soon as possible to not waste more water.
- I bring my own toiletries and don’t use the mini-bottles of shampoo, etc. from the hotel.
- I don’t order room service to control my portion sizes and the type of food I consume.
[FOOD & WASTE]
- I will choose local restaurants over big chains to support the local economy.
- I will choose vegetarian and vegan options as much as possible.
- I bring a keep cup to take-away coffee shops to reduce my waste.
- I bring collapsible food containers and Bee’s Wrap food wraps to store (leftover) food.
- I bring a reusable water bottle (for example by 24Bottles, S’well or Vapur) or a bottle with a water filter and don’t buy bottled water in plastic.
- I bring a foldable tote bag, so I can refuse plastic bags when I shop.
- I bring a bamboo cutlery set and metal straws (for example by Home & Harvest or Final Straw), so I can say no to single use plastic.
- I won’t leave things behind in any natural environments I visit and will dispose of trash only in designated places.
[TOURS & ACTIVITIES]
- I will choose for locally run tours and book through local tour operators where possible (have a look at: WithLocals, AirKitchen, ViaHero, EatingEurope and Evaneos)
- I will buy souvenirs from small shops that sell products made by locals, for example craft markets.
- When visiting sacred or community-based locations, I will dress modestly.
- When choosing my travel destination, I try and avoid cities grappling with over-tourism and go for the lesser known places instead.
- I will consider visiting a destination out of the high season.
- I will avoid attractions that use captive wild animals for entertainment (think about: elephant rides, visiting captive whales, petting tigers and swimming with dolphins. I enjoy seeing these animals in the wild, where they belong instead! (Check World Animal Protection and Wildlife Watch for more information)
- I will choose activities that get me in touch with nature and teach me more about life on earth and planet care.
Thank you so much for reading this far, I hope it made you think about your own ethics as a travellers and perhaps a blogger! Spread the word and remember:
Small changes DO have a big impact and by doing your part wherever you can, you create a ripple that can grow into a wave of change