If your reading this, then your probably eager to engage seriously with the concept of travelling more mindfully and responsibly. Like us, you’re probably one of those people who feels guilty about flying, and finds the whole idea of sustainability and travelling challenging. We get it, the CO2 emissions per-passenger are huge! But there is a lot you can do to minimise your impact and travel more sustainably and responsibly. Here are a few of the things we try to do:
Always offset your carbon emissions. Yes, it does cost that little extra but your conscience and the environment will thank you. Organisations like Conservation International allow you to calculate the carbon footprint from your trip and offset your impact for a fee. The fee you pay goes directly to support community driven projects that protect and restore critical forests around the world.
Always consider the length of your trip in relation to the distance you’re travelling. So if you are travelling quite far, try and spend as much time in that destination as possible.
Intensive livestock farming is still the number one cause of CO2 emissions, so eat less meat. Also eat less fish, especially in areas where local people rely on the ocean for their daily protein as these fisheries are likely to be under considerable strain.
Always take your rubbish with you and reduce your plastic consumption. Many countries are not well equipped to deal with waste as effectively as others, especially things like plastic and disposing of batteries. A lot of countries just burn their rubbish without recycling it, so take what you can home with you.
If you see rubbish on beaches, forest, or in the ocean, do your best to collect it and find somewhere suitable to dispose it. Not only is the sight of rubbish off-putting, but it flows into rivers, lakes and oceans causing significant threat to wildlife and marine life.
Bring your own drinking flask and re use it. If the water in your accommodation is not safe to drink, ask your accomodation provider to refill your flask. Don’t let them get away with providing you with drinking water in plastic bottles.
Bring your own tote bag for shopping and avoid the need for a plastic bag.
Refuse those plastic straws in your cocktail. Enough said. We don’t need to show you a photograph of a turtle with a straw up it’s nose to know that plastic straws are evil.
Try and stay in environmentally-friendly accommodation. The word ‘eco’ these days tends to attract a higher price tag but there are some exceptions. If the accommodation is made from locally sourced materials, uses locally sourced ingredients when cooking, and uses solar electricity then you’re almost there.
Try to avoid leaving shower and taps running for longer than you need. In many countries fresh water is scarce.
If you are not in your room, turn off air conditioners and lights. Try not to waste electricity.
Don’t stay in large hotel chains or resorts. While they provide jobs for local people, many are foreign owned and it’s unlikely that the economic benefit from your stay will flow back to the local community.
Try and visit lesser known destinations where the impact of tourism is less. This not only gives you a unique and different adventure to that of your friends, but will give over-popular destinations a break and disperse the economic benefit from your stay to other areas that need it. Just remember to lessen your impact in these destinations as they don’t often have the facilities to deal with tourism.
Don’t support animal tourism and don’t touch, tease or harass wildlife or marine life. Whilst it’s amazing to have a wild animal experience you are probably totally unaware of the abuse that often goes on behind the scenes. Instead, go for a quiet walk in the jungle or forest, or grab a snorkel or scuba gear and see what you can find for yourself. Just be mindful of fragile eco-systems including plants and coral reefs.
Use local businesses and tour operators. E.g. support the local fisherman that offered you a tour in his own boat. In many countries having an income from tourism prevents locals from engaging in environmentally damaging practices like shark finning and slaughtering Manta Ray for their prized gill plates.
Don’t buy products or souvenirs which have been made from products from the ocean such as shell or coral ornaments.
Leave motorised vehicles and scooters behind if you can and instead hire a bicycle. You’ll get some exercise and will be closer to nature. After all, what could be better than riding through a forest or feeling the salt air on your skin?
Finally, remember that travelling is not just about having a good time, but is about gaining a broader view of the world. Engaging and respecting other cultures and learning new things is key to travel, so why not volunteer some of your time to a local social or environmental project.