Laura Heller writes great articles on her blog: Call me a hippie: a search for a natural life. Tiffany Schrauwen BookDifferents' dedicated marketeer has been interviewed by Laura about her hippie-ness. We are proud to share this interview with you.
Written by Laura Heller:
As I was doing research for my thoughts on responsible travel, I stumbled across an intriguing website called BookDifferent. After a little digging, I knew I wanted to share more about them with you all, so you can imagine then how excited I was when one of their own agreed to share about her own hippie lifestyle as well as the purpose and vision of BookDifferent!
Though I sadly wasn’t able to head to the Netherlands to meet her in person (yet), after our correspondence, I have a feeling this fellow hippie and I would get along great, and I’m sure you will enjoy her insights as much as I did…
So without further ado, meet Tiffany Schrauwen.
QUESTION: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY YOU ARE MOST PASSIONATE ABOUT?
One strong feeling I always have is that I want to contribute towards making the world a bit better. I try to do this in multiple ways. For my fulltime job I work as a online marketing project manager at a small agency. That sounds like a very commercial job and for a big part it is, but the reason why I really wanted to work at this agency is because our clients are charities like Oxfam Novib and Save the Children. In my spare time I do volunteer work for a social enterprise, called BookDifferent. This is a hotel booking site that shows the booker which hotels are eco-friendly and donates to charity for every booking made. Next to my work, I spend a lot of time with my friends and family and find it very important to make them feel appreciated and to pass on a positive attitude.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU DO TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF YOURSELF?
For a long time I wasn’t really aware of what I was putting in my body. I got as far as knowing that fruit and vegetables were healthy and fast food and Coca-Cola weren’t, but never really knew what exactly made food healthy or unhealthy. For the last two years I have started to learn more and more about the different nutrients that are in the food we eat and how important it is to take good care of your body. I have changed my diet and feel healthier and more energetic since. Simultaneously, I started to work out regularly which makes me feel even better.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU DO TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF OTHERS AROUND YOU?
Every time I go shopping I try to buy products that are fair trade and/or local. For food products I find it relatively easy to choose a better option, but for other products like clothing I still find it tough to figure out which brands are socially responsible. Luckily, more and more initiatives like Rank a Brand keep popping up, which makes it easier to make informed choices on where to buy your products. Next to buying fair trade or local products, I do volunteer work on a regular basis and when I travel I always make sure I’m well aware of the local culture and customs.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU DO TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF THE WORLD?
In my daily routine I have included lots of little things to take better care of the world. My showers are no longer then 5 minutes, I divide glass, plastic and paper rubbish for recycling, lights or other electronic devices are only on when I’m really using them…and the best thing about living in the Netherlands, I have my bike so I rarely use public transport or a car.
Q: WHAT HAS BEEN ONE OF THE HARDEST”HIPPIE” TRANSITIONS OR CHANGES FOR YOU TO MAKE? EASIEST?
My hardest hippie change was working out regularly. I never played a team sport and I still haven’t found an individual workout that I really enjoy. I tried the gym for about 5 months and succeeded in working out 3 times a week, but after those 5 months I got over it and started looking for something else, which now is bootcamp and running. My easiest hippie change is eating healthier food. I thoroughly enjoy cooking an eating healthy food, so it isn’t hard at all. I wish I developed my interest for healthy food sooner.
Q: WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR NEXT “HIPPIE” GOALS OR PROJECTS?
Keep learning more and more about healthy food is definitely on the top of my list. I have the feeling that I have just seen the tip of the iceberg and want to get deeper into it. Next to this, I want to start buying products that are in season and challenge myself to reduce my rubbish by avoiding as much packaging as possible.
Q: WHO IS A “HIPPIE” THAT YOU LOOK UP TO OR ARE INSPIRED BY, AND WHY ARE THEY INSPIRING TO YOU?
The person who inspires me the most to make hippie changes is my boyfriend. He has grown up with a healthy lifestyle and keeps pursuing it day-to-day. He made me aware of how easy it is to choose healthier options if it comes to food and motivates me to keep fit. We also motivate each other to change little things in our daily life to take better care of others around us and the world.
Q: HOW DID BOOKDIFFERENT GET STARTED AND WHAT IS IT’S MAIN VISION/PURPOSE?
The main purpose of BookDifferent is to make traveling more sustainable and socially responsible. The concept was born about 3 years ago…. late at night in an Amsterdam café. The founders, all web developers and travel enthusiasts, with some experience in developing hotel-related websites, all agreed that traveling should become more socially responsible. They came up with the idea to let bookers donate a portion of the proceeds to a charity of their choice. And BookDifferent was created! A couple of months after the launch the sustainability aspect came into play and by showing which hotels are sustainable, BookDifferent hopes to motivate non sustainable hotels to start thinking green.
Q: HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH BOOKDIFFERENT AND WHAT DO YOU DO THERE NOW?
I was looking for an opportunity to work at an organization that was socially responsible. Soon I found BookDifferent and got very excited about their work. I emailed Lonneke (business developer at BookDifferent) straight away to see if there were any opportunities for me to contribute to BookDifferent and before I knew it I was helping out as marketing executive.
Q: HOW MIGHT SOMEONE USE BOOKDIFFERENT TO PLAN THEIR NEXT TRIP?
Anybody who travels can use BookDifferent to find hotels at their travel destination. Even travelers that are not specifically focused on making traveling more sustainable and socially responsible. We offer the same benefits as any other hotel booking website and even more by supporting charity for every booking made. Of course, we hope that travelers use BookDifferent to find green hotels at their travel destination or even start with looking for a green destination.
Treehotel, Photo credit: Nikolas Jumlin
Q: HOW DO YOU RATE A HOTEL’S ECO-FRIENDLINESS?
We use a combination of two different indicators, namely the carbon footprint of a hotel per room per night and whether or not a hotel is eco-certified. To calculate the carbon footprint we use a mathematical formula that was developed by the Breda University of Applied Sciences (NHTV) in cooperation with BookDifferent and the Dutch tourism sector as part of the CARMATOP project. We are continuously optimizing this formula to calculate the CO2 emissions to be able to show our bookers actual values. On our website you can read more about the carbon footprint, the ecolabels we work with and of course how you can find green hotels.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE, OR THE MOST UNIQUE, HOTELS YOU HAVE AVAILABLE THROUGH BOOKDIFFERENT?
Treehotel, Harads, Sweden: this in one of the most extraordinary hotels in the world. The owners have succeeded in giving people a chance to experience nature amongst the tree-tops, whilst staying in a uniquely designed room. Carbon footprint per night per room = 13 kg
Chole Mjini, Chole Island, Tanzania: this lodge has amazing open-sided treetop units, created by indigenous craftsman using local materials. There is no electricity on Chole Island and the lodge has a minimal carbon footprint. Carbon footprint per night per room = 3.9 kg
Conscious Hotel Vondelpark, Amsterdam, Netherlands: a great city hotel with simple and stylish rooms. All the energy that the hotel uses comes from renewable resources, all the food products in the restaurant are local and they even have a bee hive on their rooftop. Carbon footprint per night per room = 6.7 kg
Q: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE CHARITIES THAT ARE SUPPORTED THROUGH BOOKDIFFERENT?
Fairfood International: an organization that fights for fair wages and safe and decent working conditions for farmers, fishers and all other workers in the food industry in developing countries.
Daktari Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage: a bush school in South Africa with that inspires and educates local underprivileged children to care for their environment through the medium of a wildlife orphanage.
Q: WHAT THOUGHTS OR ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WANTING TO GET STARTED IN NATURAL LIVING OR RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL?
Start with a small change in your day-to-day life that you feel comfortable with. Once you have successfully made that change you can start thinking about the next steps you want to take towards natural living. My advice for responsible travel is to always keep your impact as small as possible. There is an endless amount of options to travel more responsibly so you’ll definitely be able to find ones that fit your style of traveling.