Traveling is a great way to learn about different cultures and see life from a different vantage point. It can do wonders for personal development as it forces them to go out of their comfort zones and have unique experiences. Because of this lure, travel and tourism is quickly becoming one of the world’s most prolific industries.
A study published in Nature Climate Change describes it as a “trillion-dollar industry.” While a booming tourism industry bodes well for a country in terms of its economy and employment generated, there are several environmental implications that should be taken into account if we do not practice green traveling. One of which is its growing contribution to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and subsequently, climate change.
Capitalizing Tourism with Negative Environment Impact
In the bid to capitalize and market target destinations, regulating bodies can lose sight, or put in the back burner, the development, implementation, and management of sustainable tourism practices. Think of the Boracay Islands – a top destination that has earned the moniker “Best Island in the World” from may travel organizations and magazines.
In 2018, the negative impact of overtourism came to light. On the brink of an ecological disaster plus the numerous health and safety risks the situation posed to tourists, the island paradise had to be closed down and rehabilitated. The government recognized the problem and developed a plan to push sustainable tourism. Even popular destinations in Europe have been suffering from negative impacts of overtourism.
Planning for a sustainable tourism
This is not meant to put the travel and tourism industry on blast or tag travel culture as bad. Instead, this is to shed light on the importance of having and following proper environmental management practices in order to mitigate ecosystem damages, environment pollution, and local exploitation. Governments and other regulating bodies have already started with this. But on our side, as consumers and individual tourists, what can we do to be part of this collaborative effort? Simply put, do your research.
How can you help with green traveling?
Be aware and make green choices wherever you go. Of course, due to external factors that are out of your control, it is not reasonable, nor is it possible to expect your leisure trips to be absolutely green. But you can make certain decisions about your chosen activities, modes of transportation, and selected accommodation that will show your compassion for the environment. Keep reading to know how!
1. Do Your Research
You’re going into new and unfamiliar territory. Make sure that you know a few basic but vital information, such as local conservation laws. Dig deep in the Internet. Thoroughly explore your options when it comes to food, activities, and accommodation that you will patronize.
2. Feel At Home
When looking for places to stay, don’t rely on reviews. You can go a step further and contact prospective properties directly. Send an email. Ask them about their sustainability practices. Choose which one you think has the best policy, that’s also within your budget.
You may be far from home, but that doesn’t mean you have to act that different. Do as you would in your own house. How can you decrease your water and electricity consumption? You may have gone on this trip to relax but still, stay aware. Many people do this, but don’t be one of them. Don’t leave your lights or air conditioner on when you leave the room. It’s easy enough to power them off. Don’t leave your towel draped just anywhere. Make sure to let the hotel staff know you will be reusing them. All this if you care about green traveling.
3. You Gotta Walk Before You Ride
Let’s talk about mobility. How will you proceed to go from point A to point B? Point B back to point A? The first question you need to answer is how far apart are these two destinations from each other? Are they walking distance? Can you ride a bike to visit these places? Find out if there are any bike rental facilities. Ask a local or the front desk personnel of the hotel you’re staying in. Try out the local transportation. The point is, there are many options. You don’t need to go straight for a taxi.
Think about the dreadful amount of carbon emissions if every group of tourist had their own form of transportation. It would be convenient for them, sure. But it wouldn’t be that good for the Earth. If you’re able think carefully and go with the least environmentally damaging option. The Internet is a very useful thing. It will help you make a decision.
4. Plan With Care (For The Environment)
In crafting your itinerary, consider eco-sustainable activities such as hiking, trekking, or camping. Get in touch with nature but leave no trace. Don’t litter and make sure you bring a bag or container for all of your waste. A travel utensil kit will come in handy.
Be responsible enough to know about the local rules and regulations and follow them. Almost a decade ago in Chile, irresponsible tourists caused a forest fire that damaged a national park and forced it to close.
In terms of food, try out local delicacies. Enjoy the variety but set boundaries. In some parts of the world, local specialties have become endangered species. You can choose to opt out of that experience. In terms of their packaging, politely refuse single use plastics.
Wrap It All Up
For most people buying souvenirs for their selves and their loved ones is a fundamental part of the trip. Beyond the memories created, souvenirs serve as physical reminders of the time spent in a beautiful place. Taking that into consideration, pack a reusable bag or an ecobag before leaving for your trip. This way, you can minimize plastic consumption by refusing plastic bags and other packaging for your purchases.
Go ahead and spread your wings, satisfy your wanderlust. Just keep in mind that the Earth doesn’t have to suffer from your adventures. The key is awareness – acknowledging that everything we do has an impact on the environment and knowing that we are capable of adjusting out ways of being to reduce our environmental footprint. Remember that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. These small actions you can adopt are not insignificant. Done by several individuals, these meaningful actions will make a difference.