Travelling can be an enriching and humbling process. By visiting and interacting with other cultures, we can learn about ourselves and our place on the planet. However, as conversations around climate change and the impact of travel intensifies, we may wonder about sustainability and travel. For those of us who want to be climate-conscious, this poses an interesting question. Is there an ethical and eco-friendly way to travel?
While it is inevitable that travel has an environmental impact, many global explorers are finding ways to reduce their travel footprint or to give back to the communities they visit. This is often referred to as ‘ecotourism,’ which is when travelers aim to act in responsible and green ways. So, how can you make your travel more sustainable? We’ve laid out a list of 10 ecotourism examples or ways that you can reduce your travel impact.
What Is Ecotourism?
Ecotourism is the process of traveling that seeks to negate the carbon footprint of that travel. This can mean traveling in the greenest and most eco-friendly way that you can, reducing waste during your trip, or traveling specifically to help with ecotourism projects. This can include activities like beach cleans, tree planting, or visiting an ecotourism resort. When it comes to ecotourism vs tourism, ecotourism is more sustainable because ecotourists consciously engage with their environmental impact and try to think of ways to reduce it. This mindset is becoming increasingly important and necessary as the effects of climate change become more apparent worldwide.
10 Ecotourism Trends 2021
1. Fly Less
Flying is one of the most heavily polluting industries in the world. An important way to reduce your carbon imprint is to fly less in general. Of course, if you are traveling around the world, a flight will be necessary. However, when it comes to domestic travel, try to opt for trains and buses as much as you can.
2. Hire a Green Car
Hiring a car can make your trip run more smoothly and give you the freedom to explore remote areas at your own pace. Many car hire companies offer electric cars or reduced emission cars. If you are visiting a country where electric cars are common, charging points are bound to be everywhere, making this an ideal option. Meanwhile, a reduced emission car is a good option for saving money on a road trip as it will keep fuel costs low.
3. Research Your Destination
When it comes to ecotourism, human geography is important. Human geography refers to information about the indigenous population and how they live. A big part of ecotourism revolves around supporting local communities and helping them to become more sustainable. This includes supporting local produce growth and local industry.
If you are visiting a poor country or one that has been affected by climate change, look at some relevant ecotourism facts before you go. This will help you learn about ways you can help during your visit. You should also try to buy local produce during your stay to support indigenous economies.
4. Join An Ecotourism Venture
If you are interested in giving back to local communities during your stay, look up some environmental ventures going on in the area you are traveling to. When it comes to ecotourism, deforestation prevention projects and litter clean-ups are often popular choices for people to get involved with. Reach out to ecotourism tour operators in the area or to charities that run green projects. These organizations are often delighted to receive help and interest and will be able to advise you on ways to lend a hand in the area.
5. Visit Green Organizations
If you want to learn about green efforts in the country you plan to visit, contact local green organizations to find out about events or stays they offer. You could also stay at an eco-hotel or visit a green resort. Just make sure the ones you pick are genuinely eco-friendly and not simply greenwashing. Check out their ecotourism management plan online before you go.
6. Pack Green
Disposable travel items are obviously a no-no if you want to go green. Opt for eco-friendly items, such as refillable shampoo bottles and bar soap, rather than buying plastic bottles. You could also try a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush to stay green on your travels.
7. Don’t Approach Local Wildlife
One of the most important ecotourism principles is not to interfere with local wildlife. Even if they look cute and cuddly, wild animals exist inside delicate ecosystems, which human contact can upset. For example, you may think solo baby animals have been abandoned, when really the parents are away finding food. Touching or approaching these babies can scare the parents off and may mean that they won’t come back. Be content with viewing wildlife from a distance so that your visit doesn’t have any unintended consequences.
8. Eat Local
Buying local produce is a great way to support indigenous communities. It also generally means that you will be eating products grown in season rather than imported into the country. Food imports and eating seasonal foods perennially are some of the least sustainable practices in our modern societies. By eating at local restaurants and buying from local markets, you support small businesses and help the planet. These are great examples of ecotourism positives.
9. Carry A Reusable Water Bottle
When you are exploring and sightseeing, you don’t necessarily know when you will be able to stop for refreshments. Carrying a reusable water bottle that you can fill up when you have a chance is a great way to cut back on plastic waste when you travel. You can also look up areas you are traveling beforehand to see if there are water fountains available. This way, you will know how much water to take with you.
If you want to go green on your travels, it is also a good idea to avoid takeaway drinks and coffees. If you want to grab a coffee, go to a sit-down coffee shop instead. Or try and find a place that uses biodegradable cups.
10. Use a Carbon Calculator to Offset Your Travel
If your traveling involves a lot of long-haul flights, you could always use a carbon footprint calculator to offset some of these effects. This basically involves working out the eco-footprint of your flights and paying a certain amount towards offsetting these costs. This can include things like paying into green energy funds or into sustainable projects in the area.
Most good carbon footprint calculators offer suggestions for things you can pay into. Many regular travellers also use a more hands-on offsetting approach, such as getting involved with a litter clean up or volunteering with a green organization while away. This way, you know that your money and effort is going towards something good while you travel.
Regular travel doesn’t have to spell the end of your hopes to live a more sustainable life. These ecotourism hacks can help travel enthusiasts put their skills and savings to good use in order to help the environment. Many poorer countries and popular ecotourism locations also rely heavily on tourism to boost their economies, which will ultimately lead to more sustainable options becoming available for them.
So, should you feel bad about regular travel? No, just make sure that you behave mindfully while away and try to think of things you can do to minimize your carbon footprint. Remember, sustainable living is not about perfection but about trying to do your best for the planet.
Final Call: Are you a fan of ecotourism? What are your best sustainable travel tips? Do you follow any of these? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Thomas Glare of Yorkshire is determined to make his neighborhood more livable, greener and healthier than it is today. He took the initiative, developed a plan to rebuild the blighted waterfront, received a grant, created Sustainable Yorkshire, and embarked on a project that is growing and growing.