'Eco-tourism is but a piece of the puzzle of sustainable tourism' - Kelley Louise Impact Travel Alliance
Lately in the travel world phrases like 'green travel' and 'eco-tourism' have been thrown around quite a bit, with more and more environmentally conscious travelers trying to do their part during their travels.
While this is a truly excellent practice that we are picking up in the travel world, it is important to distinguish the difference between what many are calling 'greenwashing' and truly sustainable travel.
The Oxford Living Dictionary defines 'greenwashing' as disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image. So what exactly does that mean? Basically, it means that there are several companies boasting green travel methods simply for a marketing ploy. And what's worse, many travelers are easily falling for it!
When it comes to being a sustainable traveler there are few things more important than thinking local. Not only is being sustainable about lessening your negative impact on the environment itself, but also on the culture and economy of the place you are visiting.
As Green Global Travel puts it, 'when done well, green travel is the antithesis of mass tourism'. By buying and eating local, choosing more eco-friendly transportation and hotels, and interacting with the locals in a positive way, you are already doing a bigger part in being a sustainable traveler than you may be by booking an expensive volunteer, 'do good' trip.
Here are 15 tips for you and your group to consider on your next big adventure! Give us a call to start planning today!
- Book non-stop flights when possible.
This lessens the overall carbon emission for your trip.
- Take the train over the plane.
Choosing a 'slow travel' train trip also lessens your carbon footprint during your trip.
- Rent hybrid/electric cars.
This option is usually cheaper and saves fuel.
- Walk and bike more.
Again, this will lessen carbon emissions during your travels.
- Bring a refillable water bottle.
The number of water bottles and drink containers, in general, you use during travels can be astounding, so bring your own!
- Don't go brochure crazy. Save paper.
Many travelers like to stock up on all the information at the visitor centers when traveling but rarely use it later. Take only what you will use!
- Use your 'do not disturb' sign to save on cleaning.
If your room really isn't that dirty, skip a cleaning day, which will save the hotels water and energy resources.
- Turn off AC/heat and lights when leaving the hotel room.
This will also save hotel energy resources.
- Recycle wherever possible.
This is sustainability 101, just recycle any and everything you can along the way!
- Don't bother local wildlife.
Entirely too many tourists and tour operators allow selfies with animals and close animal encounters in general. You are doing much more to harm the animals and their natural habitats by doing these things.
- Skip on big name souvenirs. BUY LOCAL.
Don't buy all your souvenirs from the airport or city mall, instead find local boutiques and shops that clearly embody the community.
- Book small, local tour operators.
Instead of booking big-name tour operator chains, go small and go local. This helps boost the economy of the place you are visiting, plus the facts you learn will be much more authentic.
- Learn and honor local customs.
Don't be a rude tourist, interact with locals and be respectful of their customs.
- Dine at local eateries over big name chains.
Again, if you choose to eat at local restaurants over well-known fast food or casual dining chains you are doing your part in boosting the local economy. The food will undoubtedly be better as well!
- Donate to local nonprofit institutions.
Many small cultural institutions and museums are open to tourists as nonprofits but allow donations. Donating even the smallest amount will help keep these things running!
Like this blog? Check out our Eco Trip suggestion blog as well!