advertisement

Each time you take a flight or drive a car, CO2 is released into the atmosphere. You can help neutralize the damage by purchasing "carbon offsets," from Carbonfund.org (www.carbonfund.org) and TerraPass (www.terrapass.org) in the U.S., and from Climate Care (www.climatecare.org) in the U.K. Iceland has its own reputable Iceland Carbon Fund (Kolviður; www.kolvidur.is); the website helps calculate your damages and choose a tree-planting project or other remedy.

Once in Iceland you can base your activities on hiking, biking, horseback riding, or other activities that do not consume fossil fuels. Several Icelandic companies have earned certification from Blue Flag (www.blueflag.org), a Danish organization that certifies beaches, marinas, whale-watching tours, and other businesses for sustainable oceanside development.

Nordic Swan, located in Stockholm (tel. 08/5555-2400; www.svanen.nu/eng), certifies accommodations for adhering to strict environmental practices. The only certified Icelandic accommodations are the Reykjavík City Hostel and Eldhestar.

Green Globe (www.greenglobe21.com) is another important eco-certification label. Icelandic recipients include Íshestar, a horseback riding tour company; Whale Watching Reykjavík; and every community on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The only Icelandic accommodations to receive full Green Globe certifications are Hotel Hellnar on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and the Country Hotel Anna in south Iceland.

The village of Suðureyri in the Westfjords has set an intriguing precedent by basing their entire economy on environmentally sustainable principles. Visitors can participate in local fishing life.

The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) (www.aito.co.uk) is a group of specialist operators leading the field in making holidays sustainable; plenty of Icelandic tour operators are listed.

Environmental issues often come up in conversation with Icelanders, so you may want to read up on the hot-button topics. Iceland has resumed whaling and the subject often provokes emotional responses. For information about the ethics of whaling, visit the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (www.wdcs.org). The most heated political debate in Iceland's recent past concerned Karahnjukar, a dam built in the eastern highlands to provide power for an aluminum smelter in the Eastfjords.

The website www.savingiceland.org has a pronounced radical slant but contains links to informative articles on environmental issues facing Iceland.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.