With the world slowly reopening new traveling prospects arrive. The Woman Post brings you some advice on how to do it in more eco-friendly ways.
The Woman Post | Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra
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1. Transport matters, fly less and share more
Take fewer planes and compensate when you take them, they are huge polluters as they represent about 3 percent of total global climate emissions. A single flight produces three tons of carbon dioxide per passenger, according to TreeHugger. Unfortunately, some destinations can only be reached by air. However, if you are mindful when choosing your destination and you try to fly as direct as possible as well as offsetting (paying more to fund ecological projects to compensate), can reduce your impact. Also, selecting an eco-friendly airline that uses sustainable aviation biofuel is essential.
The cleanest way to travel is by bicycle, however, trains and buses are better options than planes for longer routes. If you travel by car remember that the more passengers, the lower the carbon footprint per kilometer per person. Sites like blablacar.com, or carpoolworld.com can help you find who to share the ride and the driving with, at affordable prices.
2. Use less of everything
Don't accept plastic. Single-use plastic has a lifespan of mere minutes to hours, yet it may persist in the environment for hundreds of years affecting animals, humans, and ecosystems. If you really have no choice, take back your rubbish to bigger cities or places where trash processing and recycling are better. If you can, choose glass or patch options instead, they can be easily reused or recycled.
Travelers Against Plastic concluded in a study that adventure travelers use almost 30,000 single-use plastic water bottles per year. The CEO Shannon Stowell said “Reducing plastic waste while traveling is critical. Plastic often ends up in nature, poisoning the environment and even directly killing wildlife, but we can greatly reduce the waste being generated with reusable bottles and filtration systems”. Tablets that purify water can be found in pharmacies around the world.
3. Choose local and be culturally aware
The World Tourism Organization has reported that of each $100 spent during a trip, only $5 benefits the destination, which showcases the missed opportunity for travel to support local economies. Buying from local artisans and avoiding, as much as possible, chain stores and objects cheaply made and imported, can help your income really reach local hands. Adapting to local fashion and buying things that last also reduces your carbon print.
In terms of food following the locals will take you to the meals more likely to be fresh and locally sourced. Avoid all-inclusive resorts with western-style buffets that represent a lot of waste and highly polluting food-importing processes. Instead, seek local gastronomic experiences.
Look for an eco-friendly and local tour company that is not subcontracted and that positively impacts the community. This includes being aware of culturally sensitive issues and problematic tourist activities. Don't ride elephants, pose on memorial war sites, stroke drugged tigers, or go to drug lord tours, far from being cool it makes you disrespectful and an accomplice of cruelty. If you want to observe wild animals in their habitat, choose ethical and sustainable animal interactions such as elephant sanctuaries and marine conservation projects.
4. Use sustainable products
To take care of water sources, find a sustainable replacement for your daily use items. Non-acid shampoo, conditioner, and soap are essentials. Other products to take into account are a sustainable toothbrush (remember bamboo is not as green as it seems), and both sunblock and anti-mosquito made of natural ingredients. Even if it seems like one tourist's body chemicals washed into the sea is not a big deal, multiply that by the millions of tourists received a year, especially in fragile environments.
Also, consider replacing your plastic bottled shampoo and conditioner for bar options. These last around 90 washes. Always carry a tote bag, reusable cutlery, and small containers. They don´t occupy too much space and they allow you to carry those unexpected souvenirs or treats without using plastic. If you’re short on space, taking a foldable spork can help reduce your impact as well as a reusable straw.
5. Leave a positive impact
From an improvised beach clean with your hostel friends to a volunteering tree planting day with your family. There are many options to volunteer in a respectful and non “savior complex” way that can positively impact a community. Conservation, education, and artistic exchange projects are some options to consider.