The next time you travel, consider the way you travel, where you stay, what you do, what you consume and what you throw away. As destinations are becoming increasingly ovewhelmed by tourists, environments are destroyed, resources strained and local cultures compromised. Without going to any extreme lengths, try making these eco choices and lighten your impact on the places you love.
- Choose eco-aware accommodation: Check the establishment’s green credentials, research their environmental and sustainability practices.
- Choose greener transport: Minimize your carbon footprint by choosing best mode of transport available. Walk where possible, or ride a bicycle, or look at using the local rail networks, which are usually efficient and cheaper. If you need to hire a car choose a fuel efficient model. If you have to travel by air, consider contributing to a tree-planting, forest rehabilitation cause. you can also reduce your personal impact on a flight by packing light.
- Take your own re-usable water bottle and shopping bag: This is so easy to do. Most places have water fountains, if the tap water isn’t safe, and you can also take water purification tablets, if you are concerned about local water. A stylish reusable shopping is very useful and more comfortable to use than plastic bags.
- Take your own take-out lunch box and cutlery: Take out food containers and utensils are some of the biggest polluters of the environment. It might sound extreme, but if you find eating with disposable cutlery frustrating you’ll end up loving having your own. Try the camping/hiking shops they have great compact cutlery and containers.
- Say no to unsustainable food: Think before you bite – that shark fin soup or rare animal delicacy you are about to taste may not exist in a few years because of market demand. Do some research and check that your food choices are sustainable.
- Say no to unethical animal interactions: Riding elephants petting snakes and monkeys, swimming with dolphins, donkey rides, photos sitting with Tigers and lion cubs – the list is endless, and these interactions inevitably involve captivity in inhumane conditions and cruelty to make the animal submit. Often the animals are underfed and overworked. Just don’t support these practices.
- Take a facecloth: Wet wipes may be best thing since sliced bread, but they are terrible for the environment. Rather make the effort to take your own wet soapy reusable facecloth in a bag – it’s the old fashioned way and its great.
- Use bio sunscreen and soap: Have you noticed when you go for a swim, that an oil slick follows you – your waterproof sunscreen is quietly polluting the beautiful river/ lake sea your are enjoying. Sunscreen can destroy coral reefs, harm fragile species and damage ecosystems. Buy biodegradable organic creams and soaps.
- Shop responsibly: Take a closer look at the curios on offer. Be careful of purchasing animal products, like reptile skins, butterflies and insects in frames, ivory and tortoiseshell. the animals may be threatened and the sale of these goods may be illegal. Other things to watch out for include shells and items made from rare wood. Don’t support junk gimmick curios you are probably going to throw away when you get home either.
- Respect the locals: Are you invading their space and privacy? What impact has tourism had on the place they live in, on their food sources and culture? Place yourself in the locals’ shoes, and treat them and their environment with respect and appreciation. Tread lightly and remember your manners.
Travel is about the experience, but not at the expense of the environment. Every tourist leaves an impression and your choices make a difference.